Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday - Lord, please make my words tender and sweet ...

After I finished posting my journal yesterday, my wife read over what I’d written and she brought something to my attention that I didn’t think about until she did.

When people lose their jobs, it’s not funny.

I didn’t mean to poke fun at the people around me that lost their jobs. Certainly, there was an attempt at mirth and lightheartedness in my posting, but I didn’t mean it from a malicious or gleeful view point. I was just trying to show how funny things have been over the several months at work. The sad part is, I didn’t take in consideration that I’ve prayed for the women that lost their jobs since their release. I’ve been there – I’ve been blind-sided by termination that I never saw coming. It happened to me when the economy in the US was at it worst, and the devastation that was brought to us is chronicled in my writings on this and other pages on the Internet. I didn’t take any joy in the firing of those individuals, even though they’d been sources of angst and ire for me more than once. The reason was easy to identify: it was because it hit me too close to home.

I was cut too close to the bone, particularly when the second individual was released earlier this week. This is a similar transpiring of events to the way that I was released from the last permanent position I had, back in 2002. It came from out of the blue, unexpected and without warning of any kind from any front. It’s a sucker-punch to the gut; it makes you want to vomit, cry and scream all at the same time, but you can’t do any of those things. Shock steals any sound before you make it.

The terror that came on the heels of that blow is worse by far, though, and lasts much longer. It’s always there, waiting in the wings, lurking in the shadows just beyond your conscious efforts to push it aside and look at “the bright side.” It’s waiting for you when you sleep, and comes in nightmares and cold sweats. It steals upon you in the broad of day with anxiety attacks and sudden surges of realization that you’re out of work, there is no income, you’re not going to be able to pay your bills, etc. It begins to strike when the phone rings, or when the mail arrives. It sets in when any glimmer of hope in the form of a job interview or even email of inquiry is never responded to or even acknowledged. It’s there, waiting for you when you least expect it, or even when you are expecting it.

A young man working as a desktop support tech (for those of you that don’t know, that’s the person that shows up to fix your computer after you’ve contacted the help(less) desk and gotten nowhere) at the company where I’m now contracting spoke to me several months ago regarding his contract ending. He told me that his two-year-maximum term of employment would be up in August; I asked if he’d started looking (this was in April or May, I think). He said no, and that he wasn’t worried about it, really. He felt that, if the company didn’t offer him a full-time job, he wouldn’t have any trouble getting another one somewhere. The parent company from which this one spun off two years ago would probably take him if nothing else. He was completely confident, and very relaxed.

I spoke to him again in June, and he told me that he’d been informed his last day with us would be on August 25, 2006. I asked again if he’d started looking, and he said he’d been checking websites like Monster or Yahoo!, but nothing serious. He (still) wasn’t worried about it, he reiterated. I shook my head and told him how I admired his confidence; after 10 years in his field, I wasn’t getting ANY offers that met my salary requirements in the last 18 months. It’s the reason I’d taken the job I have; I didn’t really have any other choice, and it at least was in the pay-range I needed.

On Thursday, August 24, 2006, I saw him again. I asked him how the job search was going. He shook his head and grimaced a bit. He’d not been offered anything over $9 an hour LESS than he was being paid at this company. Oh yes, there were offers, but nothing that was equal to what he was being paid. I asked him about the potential for going to the parent company. He glanced up at me briefly and said that they were “trying” to get him in there. He hadn’t heard any more than that. I wished him well, and sincerely meant it, and walked away wondering how I could have communicated to him that I told him so without saying “I told you so.” I decided not to bring it up at all. I just resolved to pray for him, because I’ve been where he is and it’s a tough, tough row to hoe.

There are people in this company all around me being dropped like so much garbage into a waste bin. It’s true, there are a lot of changes taking place, now that the company has completely severed itself from the parent organization. It’s also true that they’ve re-evaluated the cost of running their IT department, and have decided that they need to cut costs and bring that expenditure under control. Other companies operating at this size and doing similar things have costs that are anywhere from half to three-quarters what this company is spending, and that’s a deep concern to the C-level management and, I’m sure, the stockholders. So things have to be done; salary and benefits is a quick and easy way to reduce budget, and it’s usually the first thing cut to get costs down. And so it’s going that way here.

Nevertheless, the circumstances and the pressures of those things didn’t really impact the people that were let go from our group the last couple of weeks. In fact, one of the people terminated was facing the two-year limit anyway. But she expedited her termination by being a problem employee and proving herself undependable and inconsistent with quality. Her position was sacrificed earlier than planned to the great and angry god “Budget,” but the truth is, it was going to happen anyway. My sorrow and concern for her was that she’d been offered nothing higher than $3 an hour less than what she was making in her position with this company, and she’d been turned down for more than one of those. I feel for her. I can empathize, but do not sympathize, because she didn’t take any effort to be anything more than a temp. She was, therefore, treated like one.

As for the second person, her circumstances amuse me if not the outcome. She brought all the havoc that befell her onto herself. She might have gotten away with what she was doing (see yesterday’s entry for more information) had she just remained quiet in terms of her pay. She was a chronic griper and complained about anything and everything. Her complaints about her pay is what triggered the events that led to her termination. She may as well have held up a sign indicating what she was doing; it may never have been found without her help. She offered nothing in the way of an explanation when given the chance to do so, and has yet to blame herself for what happened. The last communication some of my teammates had with her on Friday reflected only ire toward the manager of the department and expressed feeling that he favored men over women. They feel this is the reason they were released.

That’s terribly sad to me.

So, if I sound calloused about what happened, forgive me. I don’t mean to; it’s just that, while it’s not funny that two people have lost their jobs in under two weeks, it’s something of a bemusement to me. Someone losing their job isn’t something to poke fun at; the circumstances for these particular firings are a bit comical, though, especially the second person.

It’s not funny, but it is ironic.

I’m still praying for them, by the way, and I will continue to do so. I hope that any of you reading this will continue to pray for us, because the end of the year is coming.

God bless you all.


Animatrixie said...

Oh!!! I'm so glad to see that you've posted here, and sorry I didn't check sooner! Since your last post was from so long ago, I figured you might not revive your blog!....
Mannnn, I know what you mean about ALL of the things you've mentioned here...In my industry, I think the PITA factor weighs more heavily than it did pre 911 and since feature animation took a down turn. I remember one artist - I won't mention names - but he was the most obnoxious person on the face of the planet, and well known for exactly that. Unfortunately, he was also considered a "genius" and so, could get away with anything he wanted to. He ended up marrying and impregnating some rich executive type so he'd never have to worry about money and now spends most of his time screwing around and working when anyone can stand him....It's hateful. It's very very hard not to resent people like that....On the other hand, I can't help but feel terribly guilty for my attitude with my job lately....It's not that it's a bad one, it's just that I'm so burnt out....I am SO fried....Teenage Robot was a 4 year energy sponge I devoted all of my creativity to. 4 months before I was scheduled to be laid off, I started freelancing on my next job - The Replacements....I went into it with fresh energy and excitement brought on by the prospect of working for another outstanding crew, but there was no break.....I had two weeks around the holidays, but that was it. The Replacements went on (full time at least) from the end of January up until a few weeks ago when I was moved on to another show with another very nice, very friendly crew. Again, no break. I'm certainly not complaining! All I'm saying is that I'm soooo beat, it's really hard to motivate myself every day. I sit in a very dark area which makes me tired and seems to bring on headaches. I've gone home early on more than one occasion as a result of them. It might be the stress talking, there, I don't know, but I'm trying to make the best impression I can, even though I've hit an all new level of depression when it comes to thinking about going in to work....Any time I can escape for the morning or some point early in the day, I look out my bright, sunny kitchen window at home and think to myself..."There must be some way I can enjoy this - my favorite part of the day - more often. I feel as though I'm going to die before I really get the chance to fully enjoy days like this!" ....and I really do feel that way....As though there MUST be more to life than going into a darkened cubicle every day during the best part of my day...It's truly depressing to me at this stage........My job is not difficult and everyone on my crew is wonderful and very kind to me, but I just hate going in there every day. I love getting up early to experience the only fresh, cool air of these hellish, endless SoCal summer days, but once I get into the building, my energy goes down several notches and I feel as though I'm in jail.....I pray to God that this is just the fatigue talking, and that I get a comfortable break somewhere along the line....I just need a break.....And on top of that, I miss my mother at times like these, so much. She was such a comfort to me when I've felt this kind of broken down. The anniversary of her death is coming in October. I'd like to get out to Chicago for it, but don't get the feeling I'll be able to....Ohh...For all the worse things certainly *could* be, I'm a mess here. I appreciate the good fortune I have in still having work (many people in my business don't right now!), but I'm SO TIRED....I don't know what to do.

Psht...Well there we go. A perfectly selfless response to your work posts. ;) Sorry to be such a damn pill. I just wish I had a place to turn to at a time when I feel like I've been dragging the boulder of my life, my security and my well-being uphill for the past 5 years. I know that I can't let go, or it'll drop down into a deep dark pit, but...where does it END? When will I reach a plateau or the top or even just a vista point??? *sigh*...Oh man, I should get to bed.

Take care, hon....Sorry to be such a pain in your booty. I will pray that you're able to hang in there and keep your job. I know it's a scary time - I've been in that place, too. Have a peaceful night and try to rest easy, ok? *hugs*

DarcKnyt said...

I have so much that I want to say to you, Jill, and of that, not much would be meaningful or worthy of writing. On the other hand, you deserve a thoughtful, and if possible, insightful answer to your well-constructed and cognizant post.

I’m sorry about not posting here more often … I’ve really had very little opportunity over the last eight months, and when I did, something more important always seemed to crop up. I’m going to try to be more dedicated to my blog, but the truth is, I’m not a very interesting person and one of the things that makes a blog worth reading is that it’s interesting. Meh.

First off, you must know by now that, regardless of your emotional or mental condition, you’re always welcome here. We’re friends; that means that you’re always able to come here and just be YOU -- whatever that happens to be at the time. This is a place for you to come and let down your burdens, hon. You’re able to come and dump them on me and my family, because one of the things that we’ve learned in the last three years is that you can’t always count on people. So, we determined that we want to be people that can be counted on. You’re luggage is not too heavy for us; we can help you carry it, even if for a short while. We won’t always have an answer, or even anything clever to say, but we’ll always be willing to listen. So don’t feel bad for coming here and letting off some of that load. We don’t mind.

Secondly, you’re not being selfish by doing that. This is a place where you’re among friends. Your views and opinions, your joys and pains, heck, even your perversions -- all welcome. Say what’s on your mind. We may not always agree with you, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to listen to you.

Thirdly, I really liked hearing about what’s been going on in your life over the last several months. I’ve missed having contact with you, and when we were on DA there were sooo many sycophantic younglings there, eager to stroke you and be among your “in crowd” that it was hard to have anything meaningful to say and not look like one of them. I don’t mean that as cruelly as it sounds; I’m sure they mean well. It’s just that they didn’t ever seem to want to do anything but worship at your feet, and I certainly didn’t want you to think that our relationship was that shallow. I hope you know me well enough to know that I’d be honest with you if I saw something glaringly wrong in your work, or that I’d be frank with you about your situations if I felt I had something valuable to add to it by speaking. It was refreshing to just hear your voice, not the retorts that you had to deal out to all the people that only wanted to be ornery and the graciousness you shared politely with those adoring throngs. It’s been nice to just find a place where Jill can be Jill, and I can see that in you again. And finding that there aren’t already 274 comments before mine means that I’ll provide you feedback again -- I didn’t always feel it was worth your time on DA. I’d be intimidated if I had so many remarks to read and weed through, never mind respond to.

Okay, enough preamble … yes, that’s a preamble. Can I amble or can I? J

Your situation at work is very familiar to me. No, I’m not a professional artist, and short of the intervention of God and the sudden alien abduction of all the TALENTED artists on earth, I never will be. But I can relate to it because what you’ve described is very much the desperation, and the sensation of being trapped, that I’ve had for … well, since I was about fourteen. That’s more years than I can count, but it started about then, I’d say.
We know desperation, love. We’ve been caught in a web of trouble and woe for many years now; nearly half of our marriage has been spent trying to figure out how to make ends meet, and that’s a long time. In that time, we’ve found lots and LOTS of people that would happily help us -- so long as we did things their way and paid homage to them in some manner. We found the government was unwilling to assist us -- there are so many others more needy than we, after all; all those illegal aliens who have entered our country as criminals and fugitives, for instance, or the unwed mothers who are having babies to up the amount of welfare they draw so they can afford more drugs. You know the scenario, and I’m not being a bigot here -- I’m just saying that my need was never enough. We applied for public aid once and we had no car; so on the form, there’s a little check box with the instructions “Check here to have a phone interview done if you have no vehicle.” I checked the box. Three weeks later I received a notice that I’d missed the appointment at the office, and I should reschedule. So I filled out the form AGAIN, and with a big, bold permanent marker I again checked the box for a phone interview. Three weeks later, same letter came in the mail indicating I had missed two consecutive appointments and would have to wait three months before applying again. I got a job before that time passed.

So, I know instability. I know insecurity. I know injustice. I’ve know all those things, and I’ve raged against them until I was blue in the face, exhausted and hoarse. It didn’t make one little bit of difference, of course, but I did.

Wait … why am I talking about this again? Oh hell, I forgot. OH WAIT! I’m saying this because you mentioned that you didn’t want to seem ungrateful for your job. I know exactly what you mean, because I’m feeling exactly the same way. I am grateful, and spend as much of my morning as I can force my brain to focus on, praising the Lord Christ and King for His providence with this job. But it doesn’t mean that I didn’t hope for more, and do still hope for more. It doesn’t mean that I’m not tired, and burned out, from all the havoc and fear that seeps into my everyday life. I’ve never been so comfortably scared before -- do you know what I mean?

“Comfortably scared” means that I’m making a comfortable living, but I’m afraid because this could dry up any moment. I could get a tap on the shoulder and a pink slip tomorrow. The worst of it is, I probably won’t even get a tap; I’ll probably get a call from my contracting firm sometime after I get home and be told not to come in again. That’s the way things seem to work with this company, and with this manager in particular. At the same time, I hear that he wants the contractors to be “comfortable” working for him.

His idea of humor is to yell out “Thanks for coming in today” to all of us as he’s leaving. It’s not quite nerve-wracking enough as it is; he has to remind us that we’re not just contractors on a two-year maximum project, we’re day-to-day. It could be over tomorrow.

The stupid thing is that I keep trying to live my life, because my wife and my children need to have a life. We can’t just store and stockpile, and wait for the inevitable; we have to have lives and go on like things will be okay. You know, I’m into my fourth decade now and I have absolutely NOTHING saved for retirement. Not a cent. As far as I can see, I’ll need to work until I die, and hope it was enough because my wife can’t make it on her own (financially) and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do for the kids. I have to work long enough for them to have their own lives and things plotted out. It’s a source of nightmares for me.

So I understand the things you said about your industry. And I understand how much you despised working with someone heralded as a “genius” when they aren’t worth their weight in fecal matter in any other area. One of the people that works on our team is a “programmer” (I still don’t agree with that label, but that’s me) who’s supposed to be bringing a system online that will enable our department to go completely paperless. It would help if you understood what I do for a living right now, but that’s a long post in itself, so I’ll save it for another time. At any rate, the guy is lauded as “brilliant” by the manager, but he can’t seem to make any aspect of the software work. In addition, he keeps telling everyone in the company that the next version is going to be the salvation that they’ve been promised for the last year and a half. I guess that means it will actually work the way it’s supposed to. Yet, he can’t be bothered to take five minutes out of his day to train someone on the system HE OWNS. The last person that asked him was ignored for something like two weeks and then referred to me. He shoots me an email saying “Can you please show her what to do? If she has any questions you can’t answer, send her to me.”

Those he HAS trained have come to me anyway, saying he’s incompetent as a trainer. In addition, he owes a couple of people money because he has to ride a train and a bus to work -- he may be the highest paid of all of us, but he has to borrow money and won’t buy a car. It’s really hard not to be resentful of someone like that, as you mentioned.

So, what does all of this have to do with being burned out? I think everything … in fact, I think the whole situation and the way I’m dealing with it is a result of being burned out. Not just on this job (which is taxing and draining at best), but on working away in a cubicle wondering if I’m going to die before I ever get to just do the things that I love to do. Sound familiar? J

I wake up every day and there’s something inside, something I can’t put my finger on just yet, something nagging that tells me there’s something different just around the corner. I don’t know what it is, or more importantly when it is, but it’s there, just out of reach, just out of sight. That feeling is followed all-too-swiftly with the sinking suspicion that, this is it; this is my life. This is all there is -- an endless rut of workaday droning that slowly crushes my spirit and drains the life from me. It’s inexorable and inescapable; it’s the destiny for which I was born. That is so morbid and heavy, but that’s how I feel. Some days, I weep. It doesn’t help, but the tears come anyway. There’s more that I want for myself, for my trusting, loving spouse, for my innocent and wonderful children. It’s just out of my grasp, though.

Okay, I don’t want to be a downer here, and I’ve gone on (and on, and on) long enough. What I really want to tell you (and probably could have in a single sentence instead of a tome) is that you’re not alone, you’re not an ingrate, and you’re not crazy. I think creative people suffer more from that “Oh God I’m going to die plodding my life away” sensation than non-creative ones, just because their spirit wants to soar. I know you’re grateful, but I know you’re tired, too, and I know that part of the reason you’re tired is the weight of that confinement, that ball and chain dragging on your ankle, that makes you jump to the alarm’s beckon, race out the door into snarls and tangles of traffic, huff and puff into a tiny cubicle and stare out that window at the wonderful sunshine and wish. I know.

Don’t be afraid to say it, not to me. I’m your friend, the incompetent and intrepid Irken invader bent on the destruction of humanity and ushering in the Armada’s glory. But I don’t ever seem to get there, because I don’t recognize my own incompetence. I’m the one person in all the world that doesn’t want you to be anything other than just Jill, straight up and in whatever she’s in -- be it crap or euphoria.

So there -- I said it. I said it in a long and very rambling way, but I did say it.

Did you understand it? ;)

I hope so, and I hope we’ll speak of cabbages and kings again soon.

We love you, and we’re praying for you.

Animatrixie said...

Thank you SOOO MUCH for such a kind and thoughtful response - as always!!! :)
I'm at work right now, so I can't leave detailed reply, though I will tell you one important thing (and you might already have known this anyway). Half of the acting out I did on DA was as a result of being stuck in that fishbowl. When everyone's eyes are on you, it's impossible not to feel as though you have to act a certain way. Sites like that are so drama prone you NEED to toughen up and be ready to fight because it makes more people afraid to even go there to begin with. I'm not a violent or even an angry person at heart. I guess in the end I found that alienating most of those people was the only way to NOT be subject to drama. That site felt like jail in the end. I felt as though I *had* to perform, like a damn dancing bear. My having been banned there was planned, for sure. I was just waiting for the right thing to come along to make the nazis dispose of me and I can't believe how FREE I felt once I was gone! I tried Sheezy for awhile, but it was boring and I kinda feel like I'm over those kinds of sites. What I love about blogger is that I'm UNcensored, can post my feelings and opinions about whatever I want, and don't have to deal with drive-by flaming from morons. That's freedom, and if DA were smart, they'd make it so you can moderate your comments, as well. They wouldn't have to have so damn many rules concerning flaming if they'd just do it that way. Sounds like a pretty simple thing to integrate into their rigid interface. But...That might be allowing too much personal freedom, god forbid....Damn fascists. ;)

I'll be back hopefully tonight with more thanks for your kindness...I appreciate it so much, you have no idea....THANK YOU, friend!!!

DarcKnyt said...

Ah, silly girl ... you don't need to thank me for understanding. The way my life's been, I'd be an ass for not understanding. Pbbpt.


Be well, sunshine. I look forward to hearing from you again.