Of Layoffs and Dreams

So yesterday, I almost got laid off. Well, not really, but that’s how I felt. I’m sure the decision to keep me on wasn’t made yesterday morning as I came into work, but I didn’t know that. Neither did the 800+ people at my job who did get laid off. I’m sure they walked through the doors thinking that 10/16/08 was going to be just another ho-hum Thursday.

The night before, I received a phone call from a co-worker who got a tip-off that axes were going to be falling the next day. I was worried, sure, but I’m a good worker and my bosses know it. Well, by the time I got in, two of those bosses were gone. Actually, one hadn’t been told yet, the other was tearfully packing up her things, so upset she couldn’t speak. My direct boss was so nervous she was throwing up in her mouth. I quickly realized that I had no reason to be cocky. They were phoning people, one by one, and asking them to come to the conference room. Inside were three top managers, an HR rep, and a box of Kleenex. My phone kept ringing; each time, I jumped a foot.

By noon, it was all over. Head Office, where I work, had lost around 150 people. My division had lost 19. Only 1 was from my immediate work-group (plus one temp, which was a crying shame, really. I didn’t care for the full-timer that was let go, but oh well).

So last night I had a dream: I was told that I was going to be taking over for another gal in a different department. I was shown to her desk, told to sit down and get to work. “But I’ve had no training,” I protested. Doesn’t matter, I was told. There was work to do, and I needed to do it. Plus, my phone was ringing, and I had better answer it. I woke up very quickly - and quite shaken.

I’m lucky. Others weren’t. Today, a lot of us experienced survivors’ guilt.

I have been an engineer in the Auto business in Detroit. I have seen many layoffs and it is never easy. I was a an auto supplier when they laid off 30 percent. They came in early, put black paper over a conference room window and proceeded to call in people one at a time. It took all day. While a person was in the room security came to his desk and packed his personal items. They then walked him to his car and he was gone. Big bosses and bigger bosses got axed. Hundreds of workers. It was a gut wrenching experience. Lives changed one after another.

Oddly enough, if I was one of those people being laid off, this act alone would have sent me into a towering rage. It would be like someone having a friend pick my pockets while they were beating me up.

Ditto for Mr. S . . . when he got tapped on the shoulder and asked to come to the conference room back in 2001. It was a decision made purely by the numbers; he had one of the higher salaries, so out he went, along with a bunch of other people. Everybody hated to see him go.

He hated that job, so it was somewhat good for his mental health . . . and he was glad not to be one of the people left behind, waiting for the next stroke of the ax.

And he did get to pack his own stuff . . . but his (nice guy) boss had to stand there and watch while he did it, and then escorted him out.

I’m glad he’s working in a slightly understaffed state-run veterans’ home now . . . his job feels pretty safe.

Scarlett67, how long did it take before he found the job he’s in now?