I was rehired by my former employer a couple of weeks ago and my first day back was the day after Christmas. My employer is a former Fortune 100 manufacturing firm known widely for its technology research products. Its main research department was located in Palo Alto with a large subsection of it located here in the Rocherster, NY, area; and that is where I began my technology career. After a handful of years furlough, going back is a happy occasion on a personal level, but being back is quite depressing.

Last year the company sold its research department to a company based in India. It wasn’t a typical kind of sale. Included in the deal were all of the assets attached to research, excepting intellectual property, but not the scientists and engineers or the buildings in which they worked. The majority of the related employees were laid off and the buildings were emptied out, all of the equipment loaded onto ships to make its way to India. In the intervening period, two of the manufacturing buildings were torn down and sold for scrap metal.

I remember back in the early days of my career, there were people everywhere around the complex. The company cafeteria was always full of some of the most intellectually gifted people in the world. The benefit I received from that experience, with my hunger for learning, is immeasurable. They are now all gone. The cafeteria is just empty space, but it is difficult to breathe while remembering having to go early to get a seat.

My office area is dark; or rather, my cube area is dark. We are all squished in like sardines and there is one very dim ceiling light per six cubes. The décor is cloud gray. I have a fluorescent desk light attached to an overhead storage cabinet that covers half of my desk and an incandescent light attached to the adjacent cube wall. There is no sunlight. It’s hard to keep my sense of humor sitting in the dark. Everyone else is grim and quiet. I can hear a pin drop. I work in a tomb.

I take a mercenary attitude. They pay me for a certain thing. They get it; I go home and enjoy my life there. It used to be a fun place to work.  I worked many extra hours and achieved great things because it was fun and very interesting.  Now it is lifeless and somewhat depressing, a great place for those very serious people and perhaps slabs of beef. Since I don’t moo and I prefer only to be serious about the quality of my output, I doubt I will be there very long. Life is too short to spend it that way. The past is in the past – and I will have to go find a brighter future.

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