I lost my fucking job

I wasn’t going to write about this because it’s personal but I feel inexplicably compelled to do so. Only my family and some friends know this happened. Well…until now.

In December I lost my job. Benevolent Dictators, Inc. was J.P. Morgan. I lost my job at J.P. Morgan a year to the day from when I lost my job at Morgan Stanley. The reason I steered my career into investment banking wasn’t because I found the work to be so fascinating. (Unfortunately for me, most of those things are not money-making ventures.) My rational was, what could possibly go wrong? It’s New York City finance, for cryin’ out loud!

Losing my job a year ago at Morgan Stanley was heartbreaking. During the course of 2008, I watched many good friends get canned, but I survived several rounds of layoffs. I began to think I was immune. If they hadn’t laid me off by now, I surmised, then I must be safe. But at the end of the year my department was gutted. I loved the work and despite what you’ve read about the industry, Morgan Stanley wasn’t such a bad place to be. It retained its humanity, even in it’s darkest hours.

Four wretched months of unemployment followed. Unless you’ve been through it yourself, you can’t imagine what it’s like. Each morning, my two little girls would get out of bed, walk downstairs and see their father humped over a laptop trying to find any kind of job while all the other dads went off to work. I was damn lucky my unemployment only lasted four months. I have friends who were laid off the same time I was who are just now finding work.

I was hired by J.P. Morgan last April. That’s when the real fun started.

J.P. Morgan is a great place to work if you’re obsessed with money and career and don’t give a shit about your children or your marriage. 10-12 hour days were mandatory. By the time I got home at night, The Daughters were fast asleep. I went a solid eight months without ever seeing them. I became a ghostly specter who floated through their lives on the weekends. Tucking them in over the phone became the norm. I had the same, sad conversation every night with 3-Year Old:

3-Year Old Daughter: Daddy, are you almost home now?

Me: No, sweetheart, I can’t come home yet.

I became detached and isolated. When I was single and lived in the city all those years, I use to thrive on isolation. I loved it. This was different.

I wasn’t the only one at J.P. Morgan who missed their kids. The air was thick with sadness. Nobody spoke to one another. It’s as if Kafka and Dickens collaborated on a nightmare. I would have quit except I had nowhere to go and if you resign, you’re ineligible to collect unemployment and COBRA healthcare coverage. [Don’t get me started on COBRA.]

I was let go just three weeks before Christmas which I initially thought was a callous thing to do. But instead of having a miserable holiday and not seeing my family, I was liberated. I reconnected with my girls. I was torn between the wretchedness of being unemployed for the second time in 14 months and the cathartic joy of being home again and no longer working in a pit of greed and despair like J.P. Morgan.

* * *

This time around, my period of unemployment only lasted five weeks. I have a job. Sort of. I found a consulting gig at Retirement Conglomerate, Corp. I’m not making as much money as I use to, don’t have any benefits or job security and my tenure could end at the conclusion of my project. But getting a paycheck and having a place to go in the morning again is delightful.

Behind every silver lining, there’s a dark cloud. My job is in New Jersey. That means that for the first time in almost 25 years, New York City is no longer a part of my daily existence. Even when I moved to New Jersey eight years ago, I still worked in the city and saw it every day. For the time being, that singular joy is over for me. When I step out of the office, my feet no longer alight onto brightly lit Manhattan streets. It feels like someone took a metal scoop and dug out an important part of what defines me and dumped it in the gutter. What am I without New York? Anything? I can occasionally grab a train into the city in the evening, but it‘s not the same.

My heart’s desire is to find a job in the city. This morning, The Times reported that unemployment in New York is at 10.6%, which is well above the national average.

Here’s hoping. Keep a light on for me, NYC.

20 thoughts on “I lost my fucking job

  1. I do hope you find something in the city for your sake but also for my own selfish reasons. I love your NYC pictures and reviews. Until then I hope you have extra time to spend with the family.

  2. I’m sorry it’s been such a rough time for you, but leaving J.P. Morgan really sounds like a blessing in disguise. Work should never be a “job or family” dichotomy.Here’s to hoping you find something in the city soon (when I was transplanted to the city, I felt the opposite – like I was nothing without the countryside which defined me around me).

  3. I’m very sorry about this, though glad you chose to share with us. I have every fiber of my being crossed for you! Really.It’s no small thing that you’re able to hang with your family. It is very very good to have daddy around after a long dry spell without him, and I know whereof I speak.xoxo

  4. Cat: I’ll still make my brief sojourns into the city. It won’t be as easy, but I’ll make it happen.PG: Thank you. JP Morgan was one of, if not the, most wretched experience in my professional life. I was glad to leave it behind.Leah: I was never supposed to be the “fatherly” type. Not quite sure how this happened. But getting back to the garden was quite nice.

  5. “What am I without New York? Anything?”yes. you are a father. and clearly, that is the most important thing in your life… a tough decision, no doubt, but it’ll be there for you. and you can keep looking… onwards, Mr. Banishment…

  6. I’m sorry about this (even though you know i already am) You are a father, the man of the house, some one to look up to. you have a family. its okay. you can still visit ny. you have a purpose that is much more important than to be some boring city dweller.but anyway… I am looking up and adoring you with much love and respect for making a hard decision that does have much benefits for you personallyLove,Nicole

  7. “….3-Year Old Daughter: Daddy, are you almost home now?…”Ow…hang in there. as a father, you are an ace in my book. i see all the posts where you find the time to be with them and be something they will remember fondly in the future. kudos.you will find something, surely. and, hopefully, something that will give your time with your kids back to you.

  8. UB: Speechless. Thanks for sharing. Ironically, the wife and I were discussing the “recession” over dinner tonight. The fact is, not one thing has changed in our lives due to the “recession” and yet, for so many others, much has changed. And not much of it for the better.If I may speak frankly (and I will) the one lament from your post that struck me was your relationship to Gotham City. All I can say is that a place does not define a man. Man defines his place.It seems like you know what is important in life (wife, daughters, family, friends even). The rest? It’s just window dressing.Think of all that *TIME* you now have – that you were losing before – to what? A commute? Time is the one thing you can never get back, my friend. Use it wisely. Because you just never know how much you have left.

  9. Oh, that sucks.You have such a great attitude, but it must be hard.And I get the missing NYC part; my dad worked at Exxon for a million years, then went with them to Florham Park for the final decade of his career. He missed the city every day.But it will definitely keep a light on for you; that’s what it DOES…

  10. Savannah: I feel the vibes. I mistakenly thought the sensation was indigestion.Point: I am offering my deepest virtual thanks.Daisy: Yeah, I know. But damn, I miss it. Onward. As you suggest.Nicole: You’re too young to be so perceptive. Where the hell did that come from? Gnu: Thanks, pal. I know it’s only a matter of time. And having my life back will help bridge me until I can get back to where I belong.Rob: You would be amazed. Those people feel no remorse for what happened and are aghast that the government would even *think* of adding banking and investing regulations! Make me ill to be in the same industry.

  11. JP Morgan sounds hellish. I hope you find somewhere to work that allows and appreciates the fact that you’re a man with kids at home. There are companies like that around, it’s just a really shitty time to try and find an opening in one. Good luck monsieur. New York isn’t going anywhere.

  12. I’ve been wondering for the past few weeks what was wrong. Glad you decided to share and glad also that you’re out of the soul sucking place.In the meantime you’ve got an income and less commuting time to be grateful for. Here’s hoping your dream job turns up soon xx

  13. Wow powerfull post-between you & Nicole not sure which is more touching. Hang in there enjoy the extra time with the girls, you will be back commuting when the time is right. For someone who was not going to have kids your sure doing a great job. Mom would be proud!MY

  14. So sorry to read of your job troubles -hoping you will one day look back at it all as a blessing in disguise. Your girls are growing up relentlessly – embrace this extra time with them. The city will always be there – enjoy it with your family or alone when you can, and be happy for the fact that commuting hours are now hours spent with the loves of your life.As always, thanks for blogging. Thinking of you and hoping it all works out for the best…

  15. Shit, man. I’m sorry to hear about your career troubles. There’s no job security for anyone anymore. My Dad’s generation had it. You signed on with The Company out of college and as long as you were competent stayed with them until you retired with a nice pension. These days it’s scrabbling, late retirement and social security – if you’re lucky.

  16. Sorry to hear about your unemployment period. Just before Christmas. I don’t understand how ppl can do that. Would one month really kill them? New York … that was my big dream. I was going to work there for 8 months even if that meant I was going to be a waitress.

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