end of things
Some nights, you are so very cold. And so you put on those flannel pajamas to keep warm.
Too quickly, the body forgets the memory of another body against it, how skin warms skin and obliterates the need for clothing. It should be as natural as this, when bodies cling together for warmth. We should need nothing more when we are with one another. We were made to lie close, body to body, nestled in a nurturing embrace. This was how our ancestors survived since the beginning of time, when caves were cold and damp, the darkness — absolute.
Now we have the embrace of flannel pajamas, made all pretty with a length of ribbon. We have the heater on. And in one corner, a night lamp burns quietly, trying to keep the darkness from swallowing us whole.
Precognition? Premonition? ESP? A mirror that opens a view into the future? Or just logical deduction? I don’t know. What I know is that I wrote about this ages ago—about the strange quality I seem to have— the ability to somehow see things with such clarity. Half blessing and half curse, this spider sense allows me to intuit things beforehand, and oftentimes I use it to prepare for the eventuality of them happening.
Part logic, part intuition, and maybe a large part common sense, this inner antenna gives me a crucial head start in averting or coping with dire events in my life. I learned quickly enough (deduction?) that when I ignore my instincts, I get into trouble. Or at the very least, become inconvenienced. Knowing about things before or as they are about to happen is often painful, and prolongs the agony all the more because you know about it in advance. This post, for instance was written Monday, 15th of June 2009, but I set the published date to Saturday, June 20 since what I will refer to here needs to be kept secret until after the publish date.
I will be starting over again, after close (so close!) to two years of being gainfully employed. That monster which goes by the name “global economic crisis” has devoured me. Or more accurately, devoured an entire team, no survivors left. And so I find myself, at 38, out of a job, resume in hand, peddling my skills to a market that’s not just hesitant, but oftentimes unable to make any purchases. I saw the end coming, saw it months ago even before earlier cuts were made in the company. I knew in my gut that time will be the only variable, the inevitability of it seemed long ago decided.
That’s why most of the major decisions I did the last few months have all been influenced by the monster coming to get me. I made plans to get the major financial needs taken cared of, migrated most of my files online, updated my resume, even brought home most of my office stuff. I began considering different fields to explore. I opened a new savings account and tried to set aside a small chunk of my income each month. I made only one major purchase, an item that was absolutely necessary. I stopped window-shopping, I gave up expensive treats. At work, I finished a project even though I knew my efforts on it would be all for naught. I made sure my team not only met, but exceeded, our goals. I made a presentation that pushed for my team’s retention and asked for it to be taken as high up in the chain as it could go, feeling as though I was battling giants armed only with a slingshot.
But clarity being all that it is, I also knew that all these preparations will not spare me from the pain of having to face 9 people and telling them one by one that they are no longer needed. I am not especially sentimental, but I feel as though these people have been family to me. I know them. I know the names of their husbands, kids, boy/girlfriends, their affairs at home, their plans, preoccupations. I built this team, I wish I could save every single one of their jobs, even at the expense of my own.
Sadly, that is not to be. No amount of productivity will save you, I know that now. In these uncertain times, decisions are about the bottom line, and when the margins are shrinking, you do what you can to cope. I will not speculate about the wisdom of the decision, since nowadays conventional wisdom no longer applies.What I can do is get the team out as quickly as I can, to spare them the pain as much as I possibly can. I asked for the meetings to be done Friday, end of the week so that those who went on leave (how unfortunate) can come back and so that I can tell everyone myself. I expect most of them to be crushed, but I know each one will leave with dignity and perhaps some optimism. Small mercies, yes.
I will get talking points and some help in getting the bad news out, but really, nothing prepares you for this. This is not “business as usual” anymore, and don’t I know it.