A while ago, I received a call from one of the managers, requesting for employee data. We were on the line for a few minutes, as he was asking very specific information that I had to look up.
Me: Okay sir, that’s the last I have on Mr. ________.
Mgr: I’m sorry could you say his name again?
Me: Mr. _________.
Mgr: Hmmm… Could you say his name again, please.
Me: (Eyebrows knitted) Mr. _________. Did you have another employee in mind?
Mgr: Oh, ah… no, no. I just wanted to hear you say that name again with your accent.
Me: (Right eyebrow raised) Huh.
Until now I still can’t quite figure out if this was a compliment or an insult.
In yet another one of those politically incorrect, sexual harassment-fraught episodes that make my little life here so interesting, one of our gung ho guys comes into my office asking for help. After some Q & A and a bit of explaining, it turns out he wants me to do a creative interpretation of the rules so that he could buck the system, so to speak.
Me: No, Muscled Guy, you know I can’t do that. Against the rules. You’ll get me into trouble.
MG: Oh no, I wouldn’t get you into trouble, no Ma’am. I won’t mess with your work [pause]. But… let’s say I take you out on a date, then that’s when I’ll certainly get you into a whole lotta trouble [big grin].
Me: [Roll eyes. Shake head.] You should be so lucky.
MG: Oh, I wish [Shit-eating grin, all the way out the door].
All in a day’s work, my friends. All in a day’s work.
Another day, another zinger. This little tale may be potentially offensive, but also totally true-to-life.
Upon finding himself sitting unceremoniously on a computer chair set very low, my boss says, “Hey, who’s the midget?”
Me: (both eyebrows raised in surprise) “Um…”
Valiant attempts to crank up the seat ensue, to no avail. Chair remains stuck at lowest level.
Boss: “God d***! OK, moving on… (suave segue to the day’s business).”
He didn’t even miss a beat. I swear, sometimes, I really love how un-PC (politically correct) my job is.
Well, there is always that silver lining, or so they say. One thing that’s been improved by my time out of an office is the state of my elbows. You know the condition called (hmm, I guess I made this up) office elbows?
Office elbows = a darkening of the skin at the elbow area as a result of one's elbows being constantly propped up, or rubbing on the edge of the desk.
For me, no more office means no more office elbows. Ah, there’s the rub.
Loafer’s paradise, or mocking photo for the intrepid, yet so far luck-challenged jobseeker? These days, for me, that photo is more of a mockery.
It’s now 21 days since I was last gainfully employed. I was just daydreaming yesterday, as I went about my lack of business, that I could get used to this. I mean, I could go on with this kind of life—the waking up with not much purpose to one’s day. The 2PM lunches. The unmindful dawdling over coffee. The slow descent into madness.
But before plunging into all that, here are my current job search stats:
34 applications sent through JobStreet
9 applications sent through JobsDB
12 new applications (no views as yet)
5 applications under consideration
5 applications in process
5 applications kept for reference
5 applications with no updates
2 applications withdrawn (unsuccessful)
1 interview in person, still no call
1 phone interview that did not push through (who does these things, anyway?)
8 applications sent directly to companies through their career sites
3 networking efforts (sending resumes to kind folks who promise to pass them on)
I still hang out at the mall, go to internet places, seek out networking possibilities, obsess over grocery shopping. Right now, the adverts for cheap passage into Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. get more and more attractive as each day passes. How I wish I am financially set up to be able to just drop everything (kids, rent, responsibilities), and travel aimlessly for 6 months. I could do that. I think I can.
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.