TravisV pointed me to a story about the layoffs by IBM in Endicott, NY and other areas around the US that started last week. I looked it over and then headed down to the comments section to see what people were saying about it.

Here’s one example of venting by AhBrightWings:

Let’s make ten do the job that twenty used to, with no overtime, raises, or perks, and toast the shareholders with champagne for a job well done.

The mask that has concealed Capitalism’s truly hideous face has slipped off at key moments in history, but quickly been shoved back on by those with enough money and sense to get that everything rides on pretending it’s humane and fair. In the “good” years workers are tossed enough bones to keep the rumble down. Maybe it’s time we finally ripped off the mask and exposed that “cult” for what it is: institutionalized exploitation little different from any corrupt religion. It has good points and ideals that remain theoretical while the high priests screw the common people they pretend to tend.

And here’s another by bodrules:

Same old, same old, the plebs need firing so that the bosses’ mouths can be stuffed with gold in order to ‘motivate them’.

Being angry and suspicious is natural. But allowing such a thing to rock you to your core is a little over the top.

There isn’t much I can say that would provide comfort. But I’ve been there, done that. Being laid off hurts – there’s a sense of loss almost like going through a divorce (been there and done that too). And it hurts especially when it happens the way it happened to me and three other people in my group. We weren’t even warned. We arrived at work one morning with our separation papers waiting for us. I signed mine, packed up my belongings, and that was the end of a twelve-year career. In the course of about an hour it was all over with an escort out to the parking lot with a cardboard box full of personal effects. And to make matters worse, my office nemesis was out in the smoking area that was located right next to the parking lot and saw the whole thing – insult added to injury.

I went home, laid down on my bed and bawled until I fell asleep, just like a baby. When I awoke, the light coming into my room was dim, as if it might be close to dawn and I thought it was all a seriously vivid nightmare. But then I realized it was actually dusk and the experience I had that day was very real.

The funny thing is that I do not remember much about what happened afterward except focusing on trying to get another job. It’s one of those things that one just has to deal with and I tried as hard as I could to just get over it so I could. But getting another job was almost impossible on the cusp of the Great Recession. Some big employers in NYC and in NJ had expressed some interest – mostly banks. Selling a house then was also next to impossible. The last interview I had for a job in my area was in September 2008 and then I received no calls at all for about 18 months.

Finding oneself jobless going into the nastiest recession since the Great Depression isn’t a normal kind of experience, however. But if I were about 20 years younger, there are some things I think I would have done differently. The first one is the selection of a location to settle down. The suburbs of Rochester is a great place to raise kids. It’s mostly middle class and most people around are pretty average. There is almost no crime. The schools are decent. But there are only three big corporations here and if one has a job that is found mostly in big corporations, like my job title was technology strategist, the pickings are pretty slim. So it’s not the brightest thing, if being some kind of corporate specialist is your ambition, to settle in an area such as this, unless you can be prepared to leave in a bit of a rush. There have been times when I have seriously regretted having bought a house here, thinking of it as some kind of albatross around my neck. I am sure that it’s much worse in Endicott where IBM is the only big corporation there. It’s pretty much out in the sticks.

The next thing is that you have to live your job specialty. And by that I mean, you have to keep up with everything that is going on in your field and demonstrate it beyond whatever you may have in your portfolio. I knew a lot about a lot of things, like a generalist. It was a requirement for my job to be able to translate designs on paper, imagine them fitting into the infrastructure and pick out places where there might be kinks and plan governance processes for them. But I had been promoted to that from a day to day operational setting, and it really hurt me when I needed to find another job because my operational experience was rather aged. If you can get certifications, get as many as you can, even ones that are only remotely related to your particular job.

The position I was in was part my fault for not being prepared and part unique set of circumstances of jobs drying up and vanishing. But I can’t say that it was entirely the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Having that kind of change foisted upon me was probably the most difficult thing to deal with. One moment I was in control of my life, and in the next moment I was discovering that life can throw nasty curveballs at anyone – not just someone else. And certainly it isn’t something I would volunteer for, but I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know or remember. One of them is that I can survive. I also learned how to set healthier boundaries with my employer. While having enough money to get by with some leftover is very nice, indeed, there are some things I simply won’t do any more. And I feel empowered to simply turn down propositions that I am not comfortable with. The experience was, in a sense, liberating – to not eat, sleep and breathe the company. My life is now about me – and I like it much better that way.

HT TravisV