Wednesday, January 28, 2009
And there you have it
I knew it was coming. We all did. Our company has been dying a slow, painful death over the last few years, and especially during the last 8 months or so. We were just never sure when. And with all the games, the intimidation, the finger pointing, keeping your head down was a priority and you expected the ax to fall at any moment. Seriously, every day was agony. Would it be today? Who would go? How would they go? They have botched previous layoffs before. People were sometimes notified by hearsay from others about their own layoffs. Or the "angel of death"—an employee chosen to retrieve the unlucky ones from their cubes and take them to the HR office—would incite fear and panic every time her head could be seen bobbing along a department's row.
Yesterday was no different. The early email about a company-wide meeting was the first panic alarm sounded. Then it was the glimpse of corporate higher ups milling about. Finally, seeing the HR person on site on her off day (she only came by our company twice a month) incited nervous chattering and upset stomachs. No one could focus, and you could cut the tension with a knife.
So when we all finally sat down in that meeting, some of us with kleenex at the ready, others already wiping the tears away, we all knew. That didn't make it any easier, although the certainty of it happening and having an end date (April 1st) for our doors to permanently close was somehow a huge relief. Never knowing if you might be working your last day or not was agony; knowing you were working toward your last day is strangely not. Not being singled out as in previous layoffs, but instead leaving in one large group, together, was easier to stomach too. And although not all of us will likely make it to April 1st, we are fairly certain we'll be around in February for the job search seminars. March, on the other hand, is another matter entirely.
So the severance packets have been passed around, an HR meeting is scheduled for today (there are so many questions), but life at our company goes on for the moment. It's a scary world out there right now, with record unemployment levels and a global financial downward spiral underway. But I think this current dark and ominous path will lead to brighter and happier places ahead. To have nowhere to go but up can be a good thing in a way. It lends an air of hope and promise, and gives one a sense of purpose when job hunting, especially if careers are to be changed and professions to be re-examined.
Until that time, however, our company's slow painful death continues—but with all of us in this together now, until a definite end, which has finally been granted.