Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Can anyone be happy about being layed off?

Monday morning at work we all got an e-mail about a meeting Tuesday morning with one of the big wigs from out of town. Work has been slow, so there was a lot of fear about what was going to happen in that meeting. I was doing my best to be optimistic, thinking, "What's the worst that could happen, they fire us? It's probably just them saying that we're still in a terrible recession and so we can't afford raises again (even though they can afford to buy another company)." Of course I knew that they could fire us, but I didn't think it would happen. Tuesday morning, about fifteen minutes before the meeting, my boss called me and another coworker aside. We went to one of the meeting rooms with another boss and someone from HR. In that meeting my boss told us that the company was downsizing and the two of us were being let go effective immediately. Shocked? Yeah. Surprised? Not really.

The thing is, lately I've been reading a lot of books on business. One of the books is "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson. It's a book I'd recommend to anyone (especially the big boss from out of town.) The book is a fable on dealing with change. In the story there are four characters in a maze looking for cheese; which they find and enjoy for a long time. One day the cheese is gone. Two of the characters just go off looking for more cheese, but the other two sit and complain about how their cheese has been moved. Finally one of those two realizes that fear is holding them back and just sitting around isn't making the cheese come back. So he heads out into the maze again looking for cheese. During the search he realizes that he shouldn't have been surprised that cheese disappeared because it was getting old and stale and the supply was shrinking anyway. As he looks for new cheese he learns new things, and eventually he finds a new supply of cheese (although long after the first two found it.) As for the last character, the one that never moved, well he never moved and in the end he was just a memory.

After I was told that I was let go, the person from HR proceeded to tell me about the severance package (small, but helpful) and that the company had contracted another company to help us find a new job. My head was spinning, but I found myself actually holding back a smile. I cleared out my desk and went to meet the person that was to help me find a new job.

After I left work, I went to a park where I could think. I thought about how at work lately I could see that my cheese was getting old and stale. I was already job hunting, but I didn't want to let my job hunt get in the way of being a good employee, or responsibilities at home, so I wasn't putting a lot of effort into it. Suddenly I have lots of time to job hunt, and I no longer have any reason to be covert about it. I can go up to Logan for that job fair I've been wanting to go to. I can openly ask for references. As I walked through the park, I get more and more excited. I get to look for new cheese. I get to find different kinds of cheese and try them out. Was I happy about losing my job? Yes. I have nothing against my old employer, but it was time to move on and there's no denying it now.

The rest of the day other emotions came in too. I had to think about finances. I started to fear. I don't know how long it will take to find a new job? I've been working to keep those fears in check, but that does take work. I keep telling myself that now it's sink or swim, and sinking isn't an option. I'm still optimistic and excited to find some new cheese.