Having been sitting inside beige walls for over six months now (at the writing, but currently another 8 months after that!) with trips only for house supplies, food and the rare ‘get me out of the fucking apartment’ trip to the bookstore where there’s never a crowd (at least not in Pickerington, OH), I’ve had oh-so-much time to reflect on being laid off in the first week of January 2020. If you remember and I’m sure you do, the pandemic kick-off was officially in March, so I was laid off prior. Two days after returning from a long Xmas vacation, January 2 I believe, I and 18% of the workforce was laid off. The weird and ironic thing is that I had planned over the holiday break to give my notice the first Friday of returning. But of course as the date approached, my inner capitalist told me I didn’t want to give up the money, right? Perhaps there was still a way to salvage this dumpster dive. Apparently, there was not. I was sent on my way with a hug from the CEO and a “this is not about performance at all. We thought we’d try project management, but…”
But those are footnotes to today’s rant.
I initially took the first month to decompress from an extremely stressful job, an equally harmful ego blow at being blindsided by layoffs, and decided to trigger the cross-country move that I had been threatening for years.
Enter – was it 30 million? unemployed. (Two sequential offers in April and June got as far as final salary discussions and possible start dates; when both decided to kill the reqs as their projects started to bail and their revenue start to shrinking.) Remember everybody initially wanted to wait a few weeks to see what was up. Well, a lot.
Have I come to love the color beige? No.
What I was doing, both in my decompression time in CA and still in OH, is try to reconcile being told “I’m doing the right work and doing it well” with being laid off. That seems…counter-intuitive. And I went round and round with that anger, trying to figure out what could have been done differently- by me or by them. And I generally decompressed over the first half of the year, with or without a catharsis. But I did ‘let it go’. (did i really? stay tuned)
Okay, here’s the thing. Being laid off has a stigma.
Yeah, I guess I’m still pissed.
- Being laid off hurt my ego. Someone decided that they could do without me, or the role I played as if I wasn’t providing the benefit I was asked to. They alluded that I cost too much by saying that “we need to save money” and “we thought we’d try project management, but…” which seems to be another way of saying ‘you’re not worth what we’re paying you’ even though I said to my boss, “If I’m working on the right things…it shouldn’t be this hard.” And yet I was assured that I was doing the exact right thing. So goodbye, best wishes.
- Because people who are fired say they are “laid off”. But if you’re the only one laid off, you’ve bene fired, let’s be honest. If your company lays off multiple people, that’s a reduction in workforce and not my fucking fault.
With another company’s final video interview, the CTO squinted when I told him “mass layoffs” was the reason I wasn’t there. We already weren’t getting along, but still. I could see his suspicion. The stigma is that you were picked at all to be in the laid-off group…see #1 for “not providing enough value”.
Enter fierce competition when approximately 13% of my fellow Americans were unemployed. (The job I accepted had 275 applicants on LinkedIn’s total count).
Getting my references together for the new job’s background and reference check renewed my reflection, my anger, my disappointment, my frustration.
Was I actually a bad employee and nobody told me?
Did they tell me, but I ignored them?
Who then might have a positive review of my less than a year tenure? Two recent co-workers (where I was just laid off) said “it would be an honor to give you a reference” and “you’re a rock star and a thought leader. Do you want to have a video chat?” from my direct manager. (my answer…no. fuck off. you didn’t fight for me in the job in which I was miserable, so why exactly did I want you to fight for me especially since three days later was my self-chosen exit?)
These beige walls are calming, I guess. Helped by the fact that there’s a raging pandemic outside these beige walls, I look within. I reflect. I genuflect. I overflect. Not a word, but fitting. I think and think and think and can’t quite move-on because the world has stopped. The pandemic go round and so do I.