Monday, November 24, 2008

Potholes and detours

I've been kind of letting the whole thing sink in so I didn't bother to mention that I got laid off last week. Everyone at the company knew something was coming. I kind of figured I'd get laid off in January; I was a couple months off.

During my honeymoon, I was a little frustrated to be missing two important events. First, our company was holding their earnings call. The next day, an all company meeting was scheduled for the afternoon. This meeting had been moved around three times and finally settled on the day before I returned home.

As soon as I got back to work, my colleagues filled me in. The earnings call was more than people expected. An analyst asked point-blank when the company would be having layoffs. The executives must not have been prepared because my manager said they poorly answered the questions. Our president didn't dodge the question and instead said that a first round of layoffs would be in the next few weeks. Imagine hundreds of employees listening to this teleconference at their desks and learning this. Such as critical announcement should be first made to employees in person, not during a call with financial analysts.

The next day, our president confirmed that HR was busy preparing for layoffs. The financial situation of the company is not dire but clearly spending needs to be curbed. No plans were spelled out. It definitely put a damper on the rest of the week. To make matters worse, HR sent out an e-mail cancelling a planned happy hour in the cafeteria schedule for two day later. Come on, if you knew that spending was an issue, cancel it earlier, not after scaring everyone with looming layoffs.

A director send out an e-mail to form an unofficial happy hour in his department to make up for HR's cancellation. It was a good way for everyone to get together despite HR. When my colleague left the party, he thanked the director for organizing. The director wished him a good weekend and added, "good luck on Tuesday."

"Tuesday, what's on Tuesday?" My colleague couldn't figure out what he was talking about. After a few seconds, he realize that it must be a reference to coming layoffs. It was just so strange that the guy had been so open about it. Clearly, he had warned his whole department. I wish our manager had given us some warning.

Tuesday seemed like a very regular morning. Still, I was keeping my eye out for anything unusual. At my last company, I saw six layoffs over the span of two years. I learned all the signals and knew the procedure. The question was how my new company would conduct the layoff - call only affected employees to a meeting or call everyone to different meetings. So when I received an e-mail at 9:30am that read, "mandatory HR meeting" I wasn't sure what to think.

My gut told me that I was getting laid off, but I wanted proof. My colleagues had gone off to a meeting so I couldn't ask them. Instead, I sat quietly listening to passers by. I figured if anyone else received the e-mail I might overhear them mention it in the cubes nearby or at the copier. Nothing, it seemed like a regular day for all the people sitting around me. I knew that could only mean one thing.

At least I'm getting paid through the end of the year. We were given our walking papers and a cab voucher to take all of our belongings home (for those who use public transportation). I consolidated my files, erased my personal files, and packed up all my personal effects. I said a brief goodbye to my manager who had to leave for the airport. She also gave permission to my counterpart to go home early. It wasn't exactly the most fun day to hang around the office.

It's a really frustrating situation. On the one hand, it's good timing because it gives me the opportunity to wrap up all the post-wedding stuff. You wouldn't believe how much of time is filled with wedding and cohabitation related errands. On the other hand, this is fairly bad timing as it's not easy to find a job right before Xmas, and we had been hoping to start looking for a house. It's so frustrating to not be able to buy a house when we really want to have more space and start planning for a baby. We've decided we'll probably still try for a baby starting January whether or not I have a job. I just hope that I can find a new job before any bump starts to show (if we're lucky enough). Added to all this is the fact that I really liked my job. It was challenging, but I really felt like I was part of a great team of people whom I respected, could learn from, and had fun with. That's a hard thing to find.

I have a job interview coming up. I'm hopeful but not as enthusiastic as I would like to be. I plan to volunteer once a week to get myself out of the house. I also carpool with Tim and spend a day at the local library and then go to the gym before picking Tim up to go home. We're extending our holiday vacation now that I have more spare time. I'm making the best of it.


Lost said...

Sorry to hear about the layoff, but it sounds like your severance was fair and you can enjoy the time off for the holidays!

mini said...

yikes. so sorry to hear that. you're very matter-of-fact about the whole thing--i really respect that. best of luck with the interview and certainly for babies in January!

teahouse said...

Hey, sorry about that! I'm sure you'll land on your feet just fine. And like you said, it's a chance to relax and deal with life for a little bit. Good luck!

Pandax said...

Thanks all. I hope that you're all secure in your finances to get through this tough time.