Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Elephant in the Room

I got an e-mail at work today: "Congrats, I heard you made the cut." No, I didn't get a promotion, what I did was manage to avoid getting cut - cut out of a job, that is. This has been a horrible, sad two weeks at work. It's actually been longer. For months, there have been hints that a "Reduction in Force" was coming and we've lived with Damocles sword hanging over our heads because what else was there to do but wait? That has been the Elephant in the Room of my life for the last few months. I've talked of so many trivial things on this blog, always avoiding mention of the one thing most likely to affect my immediate life.

Well, the time finally arrived and that sword came down and did some bloody damage. Long time employees, sometimes with twenty years or more with the company, have been packaged along with employees that were hired six months ago. People have not been slotted for jobs at the same time that their positions, or very similar ones have been left open. Alternatively, people have been slotted into positions in which they have no interest, thus keeping them from being able to receive a termination package. It's been awful, and no one really knows what criteria was used to decide who goes and who stays.

I've been kept awake at night thinking of a co-worker currently undergoing radiation, who is hoping that her package will last at least as long as her remaining treatment, because that is also the length of time that she will be covered by insurance. I think about another co-worker who has an enormous tumor in her stomach and was waiting for her overall health to stabilize before scheduling further surgery, and whose husband of 13 years just walked out on her. What is she going to do now? There are so many other stories.

Yes, I survived the cut. My job is changing completely, although I'm keeping the same salary and benefits. But it saddens me that when they slotted me they showed so little understanding of where my strengths lie (It's nothing personal, Maria. I know, I know . . . ). I'll do the best I can with the job, it's not in me to give less than my best. And, who knows, maybe it'll be better than I think right now.

I keep telling myself that this job does not define me, that maybe God or the universe has another plan for me and I should go with the flow and let the plan reveal itself. And I'm trying very hard to be grateful that in this economy I have a job.

But right now, it's painful going to work and seeing the living dead: Those that have been told that they will no longer have a job as of next Monday. I think of John Donne's lines:

"Each man's death diminishes me
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
for whom the bell tolls
It tolls for thee."

May God watch over us all.


Angela2932 said...

Oh, Maria, how sad! I think John Donne's words are very fitting for things we're seeing everywhere these days. Grand Forks has been somewhat spared from the recession until recently, and more and more my work days have been shortened as fewer people can afford/or have insurance, to schedule. I see all the little businesses getting more worried, and stores increasing the level of desperation of their sales. Hopefully, we'll all see a dramatic turn-around soon.

Barb said...

I also hope things will turn around soon. So many companies are in the same situation and it puts so many people in unfortunate situations. And, I think it weighs on the minds of everyone. The ones remaining feel guilty and somewhat hopeless. The morale in many places is so low that I am sure interferes with progress.