So, this is awkward, but…I got laid off in mid-March.
I am ambivalent about it to the extent that paying bills, paying down debt, and buying groceries are good things, but I was so miserable working there that I would come home and cry some nights and every morning was a struggle to get out of bed.
I was laid off with about 65-70 other people so any embarrassment I might have felt is mitigated by the fact that I got laid off with many really excellent people who worked there much longer than me—four years, five years, seven years, twelve years—so there was not any chance that the broad ax was going to spare me. I mean, a couple of those people won iPads and trophies for being awesome employees last year, and this year, they’re gone.
The company was struggling during the time I worked there. Our C-levels rushed in and out through swinging doors. The old guard had rested on their laurels and when they were finally fired off, the new guard chased their own tails for a year. I was the last writer hired and any writers and editors who left while I worked there weren’t replaced.
In the end, I worked there for two years and thus expected the two-months’ pay as part of my severance package. I had also made liberal use of my PTO, so I couldn’t get too riled up when they told us that they wouldn’t pay out our remaining vacation days, either. But for my colleagues who had measured their time with the company in eras, who hadn’t taken PTO in order to prove their dedication to their work, the cost-efficient severance package added insult to injury. And after wrestling with the lack of direction and persistent disappointment in our newest projects, not a lot of people were sad to leave, but plenty were angry.
Obligatory Office Space clip:
It was definitely a wake up call for me. At work, we complained incessantly about the leadership, the management, and the known issues in our products. We felt like we had no agency and were never “allowed” to change things, but instead of leaving, we kept our heads down and our nose to the grindstone. If something was terrible, if customers complained, if a new product wasn’t received well, it was management’s fault and we were “just doing our jobs.”
Basically, we were all smart enough to realize that the company was flailing, but we stayed on board—for the money, for the people, out of loyalty, or out of fear. And then we got laid off. In my existentialist way, I believe the responsibility for our current individual situations rests on our shoulders because we sat like smug Nostradami predicting the eventual downfall of a company built on outdated technology, faulty content, and poor management, but we still we sat. It’s like seeing all the signs for the perfect storm, then standing there and watching it brew and waiting for it to touch down instead of getting yourself to safety. We shouldn’t be offended that so many of us were let go in an effort to maintain and increase profitability when we knew things couldn’t continue as they’d been going on.
I’m just gonna call it a learning experience and continue to march in my own way toward a future that doesn’t require me to sell my time and skills for a paycheck and a dental plan (fingers crossed and here goes the cold water). I never want to have another corporate teat shoved down my throat so I’ll be freelancing for grocery money and the retirement fund. I’m fortunate that my husband is able to pick up my slack while I get reoriented, but I can’t help but think that being let go when I was finding it hard to leave because of the paycheck and because of the stability–was just a mercy kill, and I’m okay with a little cosmic tough love. I hope everyone else that was mismanaged out of a job moves on to better things in the near future.