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.