Monday, January 26, 2009

A Trying Time

“Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;

Behind the clouds the sun is shining;

Thy fate is the common fate of all,

Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary.”

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I know I have said before that I am fed up with people’s attitudes at work towards the company, the layoffs and the economy in general. I still am, so I won’t repeat that. I still believe you should not bite the hand that feeds you, and that if you bother to show up, you need to make an effort to justify your paycheck.

But I will have to say that it’s very easy lately to take our frustrations, lack of hope, on the company, its leadership and to be altogether absolutely impossible to work with, across the board, because of all the punches in the gut we’ve received.

It takes me all I have got, and then some to go through the day with a smile anymore. It takes me my whole will (and trust me, I have will!), my whole strength and I need to borrow some extra patience from some, to go through 4 hours of the day, till lunch, but it takes more than those to make it to 5 PM! Amazing what you’ll do for food, ya know!

The notion of career, and work ethics is out the window, it seems! The only notion there is, is survival! What can we do, folks seem to be wondering, to put in the minimum effort not to get fired?! The company wants us to participate more, to communicate more, but that’s not going to happen, because people refuse to look at this “durra mater” of a job as their home, and family, as something they actually care in the least about. Something that bears their signature, their pride anymore. And can you really blame them?!

We’ve had waves and waves of layoffs and retirements, forced, involuntary and voluntary as well. We have shrunk our overall staff by at least 150 people in the past year and a half. That’s a lot for a company that used to be 600+ folks. And we’re still not done.

A memo came out today to let us know we are to take furlough days, 5 in all, before June. So, instead of 26 weeks, as we should, we will get paid for 25 of those weeks, basically. Along with that, any kind of “cost of living” raises are frozen. Unless you change jobs or you take on more responsibility, you can’t get a raise. But that’s of course, felt as unfair, too: with as many folks gone, we all feel like we have taken on more than we can handle, but …

As always, we’re not sure what’s going to happen next, after June. Layoffs, more retirements (is anyone eligible anymore?!), more budget cuts, more furlough days, 4 day weeks?! Who knows?! Again, as I have said before: it’s not us, it’s everyone. We still have a job, and benefits. We still have a purpose in the morning, and if we cut a commodity, maybe two, we might even make it.

But it’s still hard, for some folks. Those who live paycheck to paycheck and the notion of savings or extra cash is foreign! There are those! Those whose spouse has been laid off or whose job has also been cut , those who have several children in schools and are single parents with no help. How they find solutions and hope in these times, beats the heck outta me!

My heart breaks every morning when I see another “For Sale” sign in my neighborhood. I pray that’s a person who got a better job somewhere else, and that’s not someone who is about to lose their home. It’s hard to smile anymore, and hard not to be frustrated, on the hallways of the building I have buried my last 8 years in! It’s hard to trust. It’s hard to care. It’s hard to go on. It’s hard not to ask: “Hhmm… is their profit margin shrinking, as my paycheck is?!”.

I tell myself, though, everyday, that I have to be grateful for what I have. And if they do fire me (whether you call it “layoff” or “voluntary layoff”, or “restructuring”, we, on this end of the bargain, feel it like a firing job: just like the gun firing: straight through your heart!), so, if they do fire me, still, it’s not something I can control – and that is my only consolation now.

My job performance is the only thing I can control and I will, and I am, with all I have got. If they let me go for crappy performance, then, I won’t be settled within me forever; but if they let me go for a budget expense, it’s gonna hurt, and be hell for a while, heck, without health insurance I might not even make it, but it won’t be “their fault”. I refuse to believe that! I am sure they’re not looking for absolution, but I just felt I needed to get it out of me, to stay sane! It’ll be just another loss I was thrown my way.

Unfortunately, as mom says, “I wasn’t capable to be my own boss, have my own business and call the shots, so I am expendable!”. The job will then become just … collateral damage. Sad – but so true. For so many!

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