Blockbuster recently announced they would be closing up to 950 more stores in coming days. I guess the location across the street from my office is just ahead of the curve.
On September 30, 2008, I lost my job. Yesterday was the one year anniversary, but I didn’t write about it for a couple of reasons. One was the great shot I had of the yellow mushroom, which has nothing to do with the economy. The other, quite simply, is that I hadn’t figured out what to say.
A day later, I was walking through this strip mall, and I thought it was time to acknowledge some feelings on this subject.
A year ago yesterday, I went for work happy with the knowledge that my wife was starting a contract position after being out of work for six months. I didn’t know we would spend less than an hour as a two income household. About thirty minutes after I arrived, my senior VP asked me to join him in his office. He said one bad thing and a lot of nice things.
It’s not your fault. You’re doing a great job. Everyone who works with you recognizes the changes you’ve brought to the company are what we need in your department. If you need any help, let us know. I can help you with a letter of recommendation. Let me know if I can introduce you to anyone.
And still, I was unemployed. Half my company’s clients were automobile manufacturers, and we all know how well they were doing. It didn’t trickle down, it poured like a fountain, and my company was in trouble. I went back to my office and started cleaning out my desk. A couple of my employees came by and asked for help on a project I had assigned them. I stopped packing and grabbed a dry erase marker, and we spent ten minutes going over what they needed to do in order to be successful with a task that was outside of their experience, but one I knew they could accomplish with a nudge in the right direction. Then I had to run, because they were going to be told about me in a couple of minutes, and I had promised to be out of the building by then.
I don’t talk about it much. It was a very hard day in many ways. Like so many people, I tend to tie up a lot of my personal value in my career, making the pain of job loss that much more.
One thing I never had was bitterness toward my old company. Disappointed? Absolutely… but I’m an MBA, and I know how the math is done. I’ve been the guy in charge of making the decision. It’s awful (though admittedly, not as bad as being on the receiving end). My senior VP and I had chatted about where I lived a couple weeks prior. Beautiful house I purchased in New Hampshire. He was surprised I wasn’t renting. I now understand he was just learning that my financial commitment to New England was stronger than he had hoped. He had, after all, just moved my family from Arizona six months prior. Still, that was a sunk cost. Whether he kept me on board or not would do nothing to recoup the money spent moving me.
He had a business to save. Hundreds of employees that depended on him and his decisions. Payroll needed to be reduced, and positions were being eliminated to save the company. I was new. Even though I was doing a great job, that didn’t mean job security. In fact, I had automated so many processes that my department was in pretty good shape to be successful without me. Whoops!
So all that to say I wish the survivors of that company’s layoffs nothing but success. They’re a good group of people, including the ones who made the decision to let me go. I think they would be more successful if I was still working there, of course! But I have a good job working for TGSC Group. I’m a blogger for TeleGlass. I’m developing new Web based and back end systems for insurance companies. The work is very exciting. A year from now, our company will be stronger, larger, and have several more dynamic products helping companies do business faster, better, and cheaper than they used to.
In the mean time, I know the economists tell us the recession is “probably over,” but for all of you who are unemployed, my deepest hopes are for the recovery to reach your home as well. It’s scary out there, I know, but I believe things will get better soon.