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.