Monday, March 23, 2009

The recession hits home

I've never worked at a company that laid off several people at once. I've never sat at my desk worrying that I might get that call telling me to come down for a chat, i.e. the figurative pink slip. I never experienced those things until last week. My company had let a few people go toward the end of last year, but it wasn't anything major and it was mostly eliminating positions that weren't needed. I was worried, but not too worried. I thought I was safe for at least a few more months, that my company wouldn't let anyone else go until the middle of this year, if at all. I was wrong.

I heard rumblings last week that 70 people were going to be let go at the end of the week. I didn't know how much to believe. Was it really 70? Would there be layoffs at all? Would it be that week? But I was scared. Who wouldn't be? I may be young and good at my job, but in this economy that doesn't mean much. Even people my age with my skills are having trouble finding jobs. I barely slept that night, thinking about how I'd pay off the $2,000 in furniture I bought just the weekend before, thinking my job was safe. Here I went out and tried to help the economy by buying something big, and it was going to bite me in the ass, possibly. I should have kept my money under lock and key like I had been, because of my fear of losing my job.

It turned out my company let just over 30 people go, and I wasn't one of them. Not that it makes me feel that much better. People I knew and talked to, who I had worked with for five years, were let go. I was on the verge of tears the whole day, and every time my phone rang, my heart beat faster, until I looked at the display and realized it wasn't my supervisor calling me for that chat. I don't think anyone did anything that day because we were all too consumed with who was being let go. Staff members were calling other staff members to let them know who they had just heard was escorted out. By the end of the day, it was over, but I was no more relieved. Because I realized no one is safe. I always thought if I worked hard, was knowledgeable and received good reviews, I was safe. But I don't believe that anymore. Because in this economic climate, sometimes companies have to let even the good people go. I don't know if there will be more layoffs down the line, and I don't know if it will be me next time. But a day doesn't go by now that I'm not anxious over the possibility, that I'm not looking at my bank accounts to see how much I have available and how I can save more. I'm afraid to buy lunch even one day out of the week because I don't want to waste the money. Not like $7 is going to do much for me. I don't buy anything with my credit card because I don't want the balance, and that furniture that I bought on a 12-month no interest no payment plan will be paid off shortly, just so I don't have that balance hanging over my head. And I won't be buying any other big ticket items this year. I'll be saving my money -- just in case.

I never thought I'd be this scared. I never thought I'd be afraid of getting laid off. I never did, but now I am. And it's not a good feeling.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Schoolyard politics

So is this how politics works?. Like the schoolyard? There is a bully. The bully says you will do this or else. Everyone else complies.

This weekend, a group of black pastors from Chicago rallied on behalf of Sen. Roland Burris and said that those politicians calling for his resignation need to leave him alone. And if the calls for Burris's resignation don't cease, these pastors will not support those politicians in future elections. Wow, so that's how things get done? I thought people would just laugh it off. You can't expect people to take you seriously when making threats like that. Then I heard on the news today that Gov. Pat Quinn is backing off on calls for Burris's resignation. Wimp.

I'm glad to see Rep. Bobby Rush came out of the woodwork for this little gathering. I was starting to wonder where the support he gave to Burris a month ago had gone. But I guess when the subject is race and how Burris is only being treated this way because he's black, Rush will be present. Of course, his claims are asinine. The Sun-Times column quoted Rush as saying that Sen. Larry Craig, for example, was treated better than Burris has been, even though he pled guilty to a crime. Sadly, Rush needs to read his history, because fellow politicians called for Craig's resignation. Mitt Romney said Craig had disappointed the American people. Craig didn't get a free pass because he's white. Nor did Randy Cunningham. Nor did James Traficant. Or even Gary Condit, who wasn't guilty of anything except bad judgment. These are random names, but just ones I could remember or found while reading other items. There are three congressman who are white and who weren't allowed to just skate by. Four, if you count Craig.

But, you say, these guys were convicted of or under suspicion for more serious crimes than Burris. True. But no one really knows what Burris is guilty of, because the story has changed many times over. If Burris was appointed by a governor who was squeaky clean (to the extent that any politician can be that clean), I don't think his waffling would matter to anyone. But Burris had to know when he accepted the appointment that he would be subject to closer scrutiny because of his connection to Rod Blagojevich. The uproar over Burris's revised testimony should come as no surprise to Burris or the black pastors who support him. The problem never was Burris's race. The problem was that he was appointed by a crooked governor. And then his changing testimony about which one of Blago's aides and friends he spoke to, or whether he did or didn't raise money for Blago, made the situation even worse. Burris wants our trust, but how can we trust someone who says one thing at one time and then says another later? And this is not the media attacking Burris. The media reported the facts that were out there. It's not their fault those facts paint Burris in a bad light. Burris himself is responsible. And I love this quote in the Sun-Times column from Rev. Janette Wilson: "You're all at his home every morning; when he goes to bed. You didn't do this for priests . . . wanted for pedophilia." Ha, that's rich. The Church did a pretty good job of covering up the pedophilia scandals, but when the news came out, there were stories. Many of them. Like the Church, Burris was able to cover up the true story about any connections with Blago. But once the news came out, the media reported it. Wilson also said, in the Tribune article, that they would not allow "you to force our senator to resign." He's not our senator. We didn't vote him into office. If anything, he's Blago's senator and we're just forced to go along. What about the people who don't want Burris to represent them? We have no choice. So why should people like Wilson be able to force their senator down our throats? I want a special election. If Burris wants to run, and Wilson and others want to vote for him, then so be it. But at least the people of Illinois would have a say in who represents them in the Senate.

I know racism is alive and well in this country, but where it doesn't exist, why must others make it an issue? Don't we have enough true racism to deal with? Burris's race is not an issue. This isn't a black vs. white issue. But the black pastors for Burris have now made it one by threatening not to support politicians, many of whom are white, who called for Burris's resignation. This is about what is best for Illinois, and it is not in our state's best interests to be represented by someone who can't keep his story straight. If the black pastors for Burris want him as their senator, they can vote in a special election.