Some Post-Thanksgiving ThoughtsI've never taken Thanksgiving for granted, but this year, I looked back at the last 12 months in a different way. For most of the 2000s, I've heard everyone complain about the economy. During that span I've worked for two not-for-profit government organizations and one private firm. At all three places we've had budget cuts and hiring freezes. Both scenarios were challenging. I had to cut back on my software purchases, we scaled back from two interns to one. I've also seen people lose their jobs, but they were always performance-based decisions.
This year, everything changed.
During 2009, I've seen too many people lose their jobs. Some were based upon reorganizations while others were simply because work was too light. The first wave hit in late January and early February when several people at work were laid-off. In a sense, everyone knew that was coming. That portion of our company simply didn't have much work. Some of that was related to the weather, but their workload was light. I have been working in the real world since mid-1995 and that was the first layoff I experienced since IBM let three people go in 1996.
In mid-May, I received a random email from one of my college friends. In his email, he stated that he was let go. On his first day back from vacation, someone entered his office that afternoon and told him that his department would no longer exist in the morning. Fortunate for him he found a new job in September, but he was unemployed throughout the entire summer.
Back in early August, I participated in a golf outing with a coworker. I remember the two of us sitting in the golf cart and enjoying a day out of the office. Both of us were playing reasonably well. We were waiting on the tee somewhere on the back nine and my coworker started telling me how much enjoyed the event. He even told me that we needed to play in this outing every year. I agreed. I'm not sure if it was the free beer on the course, but he continued to open up. For some time, he'd been telling everyone in the office that his wife wanted to have kids, but he wasn't prepared. He told me that he wasn't ready to share some news with the office yet, but they learned that his wife was several months pregnant at that point. I congratulated him, we finished our round of golf, participated in the dinner and went home. The next morning, another wave of layoffs were announced and my coworker was among the batch. I also lost another coworker whom I worked with in the past. That was a difficult day to stomach.
All of this made me appreciate the people who helped me along the way and made a difference. It's easy to roll your eyes and stomp your feet, but this year more than others, I was reminded that all the inconveniences that pop up are truly minor compared to the struggles of others.