On being laid off

There’s obviously no such thing as a good time to be laid off from work. Some times, however, are worse than others. Five weeks after joining a company, two weeks before Christmas, and a month and a half before your new baby is due has got be hitting the red zone of the bad-o-meter. I’m curious, therefore, why I don’t feel utterly miserable. I mean, I’ve been pretty down for the last few months anyway–why hasn’t this tipped me over the edge into gloom and despair?

Yes, I’m bummed out about 40,000 people suddenly finding themselves without home insurance, and I feel really bad about all of my colleagues who had been at Tribune a lot longer than I had. I hadn’t been there long enough to build up any kind of real attachment to the company, but there were a lot of people there who were very bitter and angry about being let down in this way. I spent an hour and a half yesterday afternoon alongside now-former colleagues, queuing in the cold outside the company’s closed doors, waiting to fill out redundancy papers. There were some laughs and joking around, but it was gallows humour.

Yet I feel like a cloud has been lifted from me. It makes me wonder how happy I really was there. While I was looking for jobs in September, Tribune was the first company to offer me a position, and (after a certain amount of talking) I accepted it. I wonder if I might not have been too hasty at the time, choosing a good offer quickly rather than taking my time to wait for the best offer. (If there is such a thing.) At the time, though, I wasn’t feeling too good about myself. My self-confidence was at a pretty low ebb, and I was finding it hard to believe (really believe, rather than just hoodwinking myself with the available, reasonably positive evidence) that anyone would want to employ me.

Things are different now, though. Even though I was only there for five weeks, I did some good work at Tribune–work that I felt good about–and that has gone a long way to fixing some of the doubts I had about myself and about my future in the computer industry. Ignoring for a moment the financial constraints imposed by the lack of a job, I’m looking forward to having a short break from work. (Because let’s face it, the chances of finding anything before New Year are pretty slim.)

If there’s anything I’ve felt short of recently, it’s time. Time to play with Alex, time to read some books, time to work on this web site, time to prepare for Christmas. (Christmas, argh. I can’t remember the last time I felt so unprepared for the holiday season, and so completely devoid of any kind of seasonal cheer.) I know I’m going to have to devote a lot of my free time to looking for a job, but there’s a big gap in my mindscape where the nine-to-five used to be, and that feels extraordinarily liberating. Its absence won’t last, but I think I’m in a good position right now to do two things: 1) enjoy the space and time while it’s there, and 2) fill the gap with a job that will really work for me.

When live gives you lemons, you’re supposed to make lemonade, or lemon meringue pie, or lemon curd, or something. I’m certainly trying.

Update: Another reason to feel glad about not working at Tribune any more is that essentially, they were a bunch of crooks. It looks like one of their major underwriters stopped backing their policies about a year ago, and yet Tribune continued to sell policies. That doesn’t happen by accident, and it doesn’t just get overlooked at a monthly board meeting. Senior managers must have known that they were operating illegally, and that makes them crooks.

The story is hitting the national news now:

One Reply to “On being laid off”

  1. DAMN!

    Sorry to hear that!

    I’ve been busy recently and not visited your site that often but I swung by in early November to find you had a new job… then didn’t comeback until today when I find this 🙁

    Still glad to hear you’re keeping things in perspective, I’ve had two (relatively short) periods of unemployment in my career and found it can be quite constructive if you set your mind to it.

    Good luck with the job hunting.

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