This makes twice in my career that I’ve been laid off. Circumstances pretty much the same each time – big project all tied up and handed off, no others on the horizon, two major household appliances gone bad..
First time, eight years ago, it was the fridge and the stove. Everything went pretty much all at once, and pretty much out of the blue. Fridge, stove, job — bim,bam,boom. Now it’s the fridge and the dishwasher. And, of course, the job. But this time the progression has been anything but quick. The VP told us layoffs were coming (but not who would get whacked) about 5 weeks before they happened. About then is when the dishwasher went south. As layoff day neared, the fridge started gurgling in a funny way. Remembering the way things transpired last time round, I started to get the hint. Layoff day came. Got the news. Fridge soon morphed from gurgle to rattle to buzz. Past few days, it’s sounded like there were a couple of little lumberjacks in there, chain-sawing their way through the eatables.
Today, a couple of weeks in, the fridge buzz spluttered back down to a rattle. A death rattle this time, as the thing finally called it quits. As for me, I’m just starting the funny gurgle part. Expect to be worked up to (or, maybe, not-worked up to) a full, agitated, buzz by August, when my ‘notice period’ runs out. Notice period? Well, as I mentioned, this is a slow-motion cycle. Most of us who were laid off are actually still on the payroll for varying amounts of time, depending on time of service. We’re — more or less theoretically — working from home, on variously challenging ‘special projects’. It is nice to have a cushion, and I do appreciate it. On the other hand, it would be nice to be able to acknowledge the inevitable and make a clean break of it. In short, hey, Mr. Director, uh… what’s my motivation for this scene?
Hmm. Must be entering the ‘angry and bitter’ stage of the ‘grieving’ process the HR folks told us about. Best we get back to the appliances. They do seem to have a knack for prognosticating my job prospects, at least on the down side. Maybe next time they’ll be sufficiently evolved that they can cut the cute stuff and just give me the news straight up..
..”and, by the way — you’re out of a job. But remember, by not driving to work everyday, you’re doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint and stop global warming. Together, we can save the planet. You’re low on half and half. Have a nice day.”
Which brings me to another troubling household implement. Being home all day, you realize how much the phone rings. It’s always ‘UNKNOWN’, and UNKNOWN is always, it seems, looking for money. For some reason, you answer, then there’s that predictable yet always annoying standoff. You did call me, right? So why don’t you, like, say something within, the first, oh, twenty seconds?? Finally, some voice, sounding either indifferently weary or stridently perky, does say something. It’s, of course, down hill from there. Anyway, the exception to this — and this is one of those things you just can’t make up — is Big Brother. So far, I’ve tried to give it the the benefit of the doubt, assuming it’s the charity, trolling, like UNKNOWN, for the odd donation. Just the same, when the phone rings and the caller ID lights up ‘BIG BROTHER’, it is a tad alarming. I give the ‘end’ button a quick finger slam. And stuff the phone under the nearest pillow.