They say losing your job ranks up there with a personal health problem or a death of your spouse when it comes to life-threatening, depression-causing stress.
I don’t think you’re ever ready for a lay off. I’d been working in that place, the old place, just shy of seven years, doing a fine job, getting great evaluations, raises, clients liked me then: Bam! Just like that. Buh-bye.
That one was a big layoff, a major corporate bloodletting, me and a couple hundred other poor saps out on the street. A newspaper photographer camped outside our building at the time to snap pictures of people whose lives just took a turn for the destroyed, leaving with all their stuff. They call it downsizing sometimes. Nice and impersonal, cold, wordsmithed to make you feel better as you packed your things.
RELEASE OF RESOURCES
INVOLUNTARY SEPARATION FROM PAYROLL
Pick a euphemism, it’s good old-fashioned fired.
Employees name layoffs days Black Wednesday or Black Friday, Black (whatever) Day. A reference to the black plague, I guess, black death. The language of the layoff is death language:
“Did Kevin get it?”
“Bob got the axe.”
“Tina got cut.”
Modern layoffs aren’t classic layoffs. They aren’t the we’ll-call-you-when-we-start-assembling-Pintos-again layoffs. Modern layoffs are more like: you have to go now for no particular reason. Hey, nothing personal. No, not at all. Because to the giant faceless corporation to which you gave sizable portions of your life never to live again, you aren’t a person. You’re a thing, a number in a column, a digit. You’re a resource. Notice there’s no Personnel Department anymore. Companies call it Human Resources. Humans stacked and cataloged with the paper clips and post-it notes and the toner for the laser printer.
Layoffs are passive events; they simply happen. It’s the feeling minnows have in a baitshop tank. You're swimming around and every so often the lid opens, a net swoops in and some of you aren't there any more. It’s Corporate Passover, the specter of unemployment roaming the hallways touching certain workers with the scythe and leaving others alone, never with any real solid logic to the decision; survivors left with a low level of good stiff fear to keep us on our toes until the next round.
So, yeah… I’m feeling pretty good these days.