Friday, November 27th, 2009

Some Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts

I'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.


Tags:  holidays, work
5 Comments
lgrant
Very appropriate. I've had people at my office assure me I could never be laid off or let go. I don't think there is such a position anymore. When I want to grumble, I just think "I could be out of work tomorrow". That's even scarier now that I've bought a house and am committed to a house payment. In the past I've always been able to say "well, I could downsize and cut my rent payments". Not anymore. We all grumble about our jobs and the company and our co-workers but no one wants to be let go or laid off. The job market is just too tough. I hope 2010 is better for everyone but my concern is we will still be struggling in the coming year and things could get worse before they get better. I think we all need to feel they will get better again. Maybe not to the level they were before this all hit but at least better than now for jobs and the economy. Well said, Bill.
LGrant   Friday, November 27, 2009
billpearch
I laughed when I looked at this photo I posted earlier in the year.

http://www.humzoo.com/billpearch/photos/57/5/

Who knew I would be thinking about these issues 30 years in the future.
Bill Pearch   Friday, November 27, 2009
lgrant
HAHA--not a care in the world. Just having fun and everything looks possible. :)
LGrant   Friday, November 27, 2009
RAGrise
For weeks after buying this house last year I had nightmares about Richie losing his job. He grumbles and complains a lot about his boss and coworker, LGrant knows just how much. 2 years ago their company started cutting positions and called it reorganizing the company. Saving salaries is the easiest way to save money. Of all the "remote" positions (IT work) that were created and then a year later eliminated, Richie and his brother were the only 2 who managed to keep a job inside the company as "remote" employees. Some others got into other depts during the first round of cuts, but too many were let go.

This story is so sad. Getting ready to bring a baby into this world and not be employeed--at Christmas. I can not imagine a more hopeless feeling. This blog is so real, and so well written...I agree, it will take longer to get things back to what will be normal--not what has been normal.
Richie & Ashley   Saturday, November 28, 2009
billpearch
Thanks for the comments about this blog. I'll admit that I waffled a bit on whether or not to post it, but it seemed like a way to get it off my mind and into writing.
Bill Pearch   Saturday, November 28, 2009
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