Last Friday afternoon at Benevolent Dictators, Inc., they called an emergency all-departmental meeting. It was announced that the Head of Asset Management had been let go. He’s about five or six levels above me, so it’s clear that a lofty title cannot protect you against a catastrophic economic meltdown. It was also announced that another round of layoffs would take place sometime this week. So we all had that to think about over the weekend. Consequently, I have not slept a full night since then. It has occupied every other thought in my head for almost a week. I hold a grandmaster black belt in obsessing.
Yesterday morning they let many of my colleagues go. Many. The 9th floor at Benevolent Dictators, Inc. has been gutted. Someone would get a phone call, walk to Human Resources, be escorted back to their desk by someone from Human Resources, gather up their belongings and be escorted out of the building. It was one of the most callous spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. Those people in Human Resources have ice water in their veins. This went on all morning. I lost some good friends. I have never seen so much crying in all my life. This is the fourth round of layoffs in the past 18 months and this one was the most heartbreaking. People—some with young children—are being thrown out onto a dead job market just before the holidays.
I, somehow, managed to survive again. Sometimes, it’s good to be a small fish in a big pond. Tonight I am going out with Nurse H for a series of stiff drinks. I will toast my fallen colleagues and my splendid luck.
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Yeah, layoffs can be tough. Layoffs before the holidays can be especially tough.But sometimes, getting laid off can provide the impetus for a person to go in a direction in life that they’ve only dreamed about before.It can mean the opening of new frontiers.When I was younger, much younger than now, I used to obsess and worry about being laid off. Older now, I’ve managed to develop an idea of what I’m worth and, even though I’m only performing at a small percentage of what I once did or am capable of, I don’t sweat it.In fact, a lay-off – with severance and the kind of options my employer has as parting gifts – would be almost welcome these days. Because I’m currently too lazy and too comfortable to initiate the change myself.Americans pride themselves on their self-reliant, rugged individualistic ideals (at least that’s what we hear all the time) so it’s time for some to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. When going gets tough, the tough get going.How’s that for a comment full of cliches?