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.


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

I'm sorry that you have to go through this.

It's even more frightening when you're middle-aged, have a mortgage to pay, and have children to clothe and feed and educate. When you're middle-aged, you don't always have parents around, and if they are around, they might not be in a financial position to help you out. And when companies start hiring again, they don't want to hire the middle-aged, because middle-agers have lots of experience and usually can't live on the lower salaries that companies pay younger, less-experienced employees.

Anonymous said...

My company had another round of layoffs today. We weren't a large company to begin with and now there's a skeleton staff of about seven people left.

I'm still here, but only because my job is one that must be done. I'm only here for another two weeks, to "transition" as they outsource the work.

I guess what I'm saying is that I sympathize with your feeling of shock and relief. Long ago I, too, believed that being a good employee, hard-worker, and team player were assets that would save me in the bad times, but sometimes the times are so bad that no one is safe.

I'm bright, hard-working, and good at what I do. Fortunately, I have neither dependants nor a mortgage. Just as fortunately, I saw the economy headed toward the cellar a couple of years ago and started paying off as much of my debt as possible.

Unfortunately, I'm not young. I was grateful to get this job last year and I'm not looking forward to this new round of job searches.


NoSoupForYou said...

It's definitely past time for revolts every time a job is lost and sent overseas.

Americans should have been torching property and buildings belonging to corporations that closed down to move overseas. It may not be possible to prevent the mass emigration of jobs and assets but, companies and their investors should not be able to leave without paying a terrifying price for such evil against the American people.

It is practically impossible to acquire and hold personal property without stable payroll employment in this current age. To rob a man or woman of the jobs needed to secure property is the very same thing as an armed robber breaking in to steal your stuff. Jobs = personal property. By the very words of the U.S. Constitution, We The People are the posterity that the Founding Fathers wanted to pass on the American Commons to and all the wealth generated within.

I know it's popular to bash the French but, I admire any people who are willing to go on strike at the drop of a hat, kidnap bosses, and commit vandalism to protest violations of their rights. Americans thought they could resolve disputes and find justice through the legal system instead of street action or the barrel of a gun.

With the recent daylight robbery of $23.7 TRILLION from the Treasury by agents of Goldman Sachs, the Busheviks, the Obamanoids, and the Fed, the verdict on legal process is in: guilty of universal malfeasance.

Time to arrest the bankers, claw back all TARP funds, audit and dissolve the Federal Reserve and arrest everybody at the Fed. Send assassin teams to take out the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds for starters. RETROACTIVELY OUTLAW ALL DERIVATIVES. Declare them all null and void. Make it forever illegal to create them.

Begin progressive nullification of everything done since the end of WW2. But, keep millions of shootin' irons pointed at our elected and appointed "officials" to make sure there's no backsliding. Lock and load, Second American Revolution, baby!