ninanevermore: (Default)
[personal profile] ninanevermore
These last few days I've been replaying the day I got laid off in my mind. As far as layoffs go, it wasn't that unpleasant. Getting fired is unpleasant. Getting laid off is only sad.

The corporation I worked for has been in a slow state of decline for many years. It was in a slow state of decline the day they hired me. In its beginning, it was a heady and exciting place to work, or so I hear. In those days, venture capitalist would pour money into dotcom companies and no one seemed to think it was a problem that they weren't making any of that money back. Then one day the venture capitalist sobered up, took a look at their books, and heads began to roll. One of the things that my employer did was move a lot of its operations from the San Francisco Bay area to the Houston area, where the cost of living is much lower. You can pay a Houstonian half of what you could pay a Californian to do the same job. Texas is kind of like India as far as San Francisco is concerned. So 5 years ago the jobs went to Texas, where I picked one them up.

For awhile the Houston office grew, but then it began to shrink. And shrink. And shrink. We had 24 people. Then 12. Then 8. I knew it was a bad sign when the board of directors laid off the upper management, leaving an office of 4 peons - Matt the Manager, Astro Joe, The Cajun Queen, and me. When The Cajun Queen left, they replaced her with Melanie, who I like a lot and would have mentioned here before except that I know for a fact that - unlike Matt, Joe and the Cajun Queen - she reads this blog (Hi, Mel! Any leads yet?) and so the protocols of tact and privacy made it easier not to mention her at all. Still, she plays a major role in this story, so I have to bring up her name.

With an office of only 4 people who sit in close quarters, it's hard not to get attached and become friends. You care about each other. You know about each other's personal lives. Everyone had mementos on their desks brought back from the vacations and trips that the others had been on. Which meant that giving Mel and me the ax was very stressful on poor Matt. Matt's dad is a former CEO of the corporation and his dad sits on the board of directors, so he's got more job security than the rest of us. When they close things up, he will be the one who gets to turn off the lights on his way out.

Our tiny office had three rooms: a break room, the main office, and a file room. The file room has a small table in the middle of it so that it can serve as a conference room, if needed. Thursday morning, Matt asked that Mel and I step into the file room with him.

"There's really no easy way to say this..." he began. He was holding two folders in his hands. I wondered if we were getting written up for something.

"I'm going to have to lay you both off today."

There was a long pause.

"I'm sorry."

Mel and I looked at each other, and then at Matt. Mel looked surprised, but calm. Matt looked miserable.

"Well, Matt, you know this leaves us no choice," I said with a wry smile and a shrug, "Mel and I are going to have to unfriend you on MySpace for this."

"Oh, God, please don't," he said. He glanced up at us from where his face was resting on his hand. I was kidding, of course, but he was serious. The act of unfriending a person on a networking site is highly symbolic when you do it to someone you know in real life. When you do it to a stranger, it means I no longer find you interesting, but when you do it to a real-life friend it really does say our friendship is over. I was only teasing him to lighten the mood, but the gallows humor was too much for him to take at that moment.

Mel assured him that we wouldn't unfriend him over this, because it wasn't his fault. The board of directors eliminated our positions, not Matt. We knew this.

"If there's anything we can do for you, anything you want from your desks, just let me know," he said, "We're pretty much closing this office. Joe and I will be working from home in a few weeks."

"Letters of recommendation saying how great we are would be a nice touch," I suggested.

"Of course! If you want a letter of recommendation, just ask. I'd be happy to write you one."

"Matt, don't make us ask for that," Mel said.

"Okay, yes, we both want one," I told him, "Consider this asking."

"Good, fine, okay," he said. He looked relieved to be able to offer us something positive.

"Will you miss us? Say you will," I told him.

"Of course I will. I mean, yes, you know, we're all friends here. I'll miss you both. I mean it."

"That's all we needed to know."

Next he would need to talk to us one at a time, to sign paperwork. After the paperwork, we were free to leave as soon as our desks were cleaned out.

I've cleaned out a desk before. It takes one box to leave a company, no matter how many years you've been there. All your photographs, your calendar, your pencil holder and its contents (it's a closeout, they didn't need it back), your personal effects and all yours odds and ends fit nicely into a single copy-paper box or a 12"x15" bankers box. I even got to keep my Swingline stapler, which I plan to spray paint red (Rustolium should do the trick).

One box that fit nicely in the back of my car. One door in my life and career closed quietly and politely behind me. Somewhere up ahead a new door is waiting for me to open it. The tricky part is finding the right door and seeing if my key fits.

And so it goes.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * # * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

PS. Friends, Romans, LJers: please forgive my lack of comments for the time being. DSL is not available in the sticks where I live and the cable company in my area is in a state of transfering from one provider to another. Until then, I am stuck with (and it pains me to even type this word) dialup. I hope to return to the civilized world as soon as possible.

Date: 2007-02-20 05:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What kind of work do you do? Is 1225 North Loop West, Suite 950, Houston, Texas 77008 too far for you?

Date: 2007-02-20 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My resume is pretty diverse. For my last company I did a combination of due diligence (credit, fraud, licensing & background checks), customer support, tech support, accounts receivable, and even a little marketing. The more people they laid off, the more duties we all assumed. In fact, my last job was in 77008 (at 1445 N Loop W). I admit I hate the commute, but I'm entirely capable making of it. I was in walking distance of Thomas' BBQ ("It's Pretty Good!"), to give you an idea.

Date: 2007-02-20 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Title Data has an immediate opening for a Quality Assurance Technician. This position will evaluate property description and map drawing decisions made by individuals in our Locate Department. The successful candidate will be a non-smoker who has good spatial ability, a strong work ethic, and works well with others." is still showing up on my bulletin when I log in in the morning. their web site is I think the pay is fairly decent considering the referral fee they will pay for sending someone to them.

This is a strong company. I sent Dawn Christian there for an interview and everything went well in the test, until she had a "been sick and just had baby " brain fog moment in the interview.

contact Shirley Speer at or call 713/880-2600.

If you get an interview, let me know and I will go over maps and surveys with you so you can know something about it walking into the interview.

Date: 2007-02-20 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! Email me with your name and info at I doubt that I can say that megerber from LJ refered me and have any hope that they figure out who to give the proper credit to. :D

Date: 2007-02-20 07:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
lol. Yeah.. that likely wouldn't work.

Date: 2007-02-20 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
LOL! Do it, do it! But you need to refer to someone with a wackier/funnier username, like "zippytaco77" or "sexygrammy4u"...

On a more serious note, I've been in your position before, twice, in fact. I definitely know how sucky it is, even if you know it isn't your fault :-/

Date: 2007-02-20 09:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
oh.. then if you do, use

but you have to do it with a completely straight face

Date: 2007-02-20 07:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
sent. Good luck.

Date: 2007-02-20 08:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Here's to hoping that my bad interview doesn't give megerber a bad name for applicants. Sorry you'll have to work harder to impress them after my *do'h* moment.

Date: 2007-02-20 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm sure they've forgotten all about you by now. Unless the d'oh! moment was particularly memorable. Either way, I will try and redeem her in their eyes. :D

Date: 2007-02-20 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
sweetie, anyone that has had a baby had the brain fog .. it is fine

Date: 2007-02-20 09:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That doesn't mean that everyone else remembers that - meaning the person who interviewed me was an older woman so, chances are, she had kids.

In fact, I think I remember her mentioning her daughter.

And so it goes.

Date: 2007-02-20 05:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
just hold your head high and go with it,'ll be fine,..:)

Re: And so it goes.

Date: 2007-02-20 06:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know; I always am fine in the end. The problem with being able to roll with the punches is that you feel a little dizzy until the dust settles. :)

Date: 2007-02-20 06:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Having been through 3 layoffs before, I can completely empathise. Two of those lay offs were for the same company - lol. It won't be fun and it won't be easy but you'll figure things out in the end. But for now, more quality time with the family will be a gift.

Date: 2007-02-20 06:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Having actual time to spend with my family is a little surreal and weird for me. I'm just not used to it. It's sad, really.

Date: 2007-02-20 06:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have never been laid off, but I did leave a company a few weeks before it was forced to declare bankruptcy. I never did get the money the owed me.

I've never made close friends at a job before, so leaving my positions in the past has never been hard. IF I ever leave my current job, though, I think I will know exactly how you feel.

Good luck, kiddo, and best wishes!

Date: 2007-02-20 06:36 pm (UTC)

Date: 2007-02-20 06:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm sorry to hear this. It is unnerving as well because my husband's job sounds like it could do what yours has done in some short amount of time. In my selfish self interest of planning for the future, please update with what happens next.

Date: 2007-02-20 07:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
But of course. I'm unemployed now; it's either blog, or do housework...

Date: 2007-02-20 07:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
best of luck in your future ventures.

Date: 2007-02-20 07:22 pm (UTC)

Date: 2007-02-20 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good Luck!

Date: 2007-02-20 09:31 pm (UTC)

Date: 2007-02-21 12:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*HUGS NINA TIGHT* That had to be rough on all of you, especially since y'all were friends..

Date: 2007-02-21 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think it made it harder on Matt - I actually felt sorry for him, when I was the one facing unemployment. It added an element of weirdness to the mix of emotions, that's for sure.

Date: 2007-02-21 01:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"When you do it to a stranger, it means I no longer find you interesting, but when you do it to a real-life friend it really does say our friendship is over."

how true. I'm waffling over doing this.

Well, enjoy the freedom :D Sounds like you wont have to wait long to find new work.

Date: 2007-02-21 07:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I consider myself on vacation for the time being, since I am living off of the unused vacation I had save. My mental state of being unemployed starts in another week or so.

Date: 2007-02-22 12:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
well..lack of $ aside, I find it fun :)

Date: 2007-02-21 07:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm entering into that delirium that only comes in certain hours of the morning, but I stumbled upon your journal and find you quite witty. Hope you don't mind; I've just started this lj.

Date: 2007-02-21 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Welcome! I've added you as a friend (you have a new journal, so it looks like you could use some). Feel free to add me back (this will make me show up on your friends page so that you don't have to go looking for me). :)

Date: 2007-02-22 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am so sorry, hon. I left my job last May and walked around in a fog of "what do I do now that I'm not working?" for a little while. I hope you have some luck real soon.

Date: 2007-02-23 07:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you!


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