My brother, who works for the company that makes film in little yellow boxes that you don’t buy anymore, says that after 18 or so rounds you get used to the threat of layoffs hanging over your head.
I have trouble believing that. I have just been through my third round of layoffs in less than a year. I don’t see getting used to it.
I have watched co-workers walk out the door — good people whose work and friendship I’ve enjoyed over the years — laden down with the news that they no longer have a job, a career, a livelihood. My mind flips through what I know about that person and what it will be like for them. It breaks my heart.
Just the specter of layoffs hanging overhead changes a lot of things, casting a shadow on virtually every thought and decision you make.
When the eye doctor told me recently that I have encroaching cataracts (yeah, I know I’m too young – he thought so too), my first thought was whether I would have health insurance when the time comes for surgery.
At a recent family gathering, we were asked if we had any trips planned. It depends, we replied. Everything suddenly depends.
Wednesday, on the eve of our latest layoffs, I was reporting a story on the lottery and bought my first-ever lottery ticket. Sadly, I didn’t win, but I had a new understanding of why people put their hopes in that basket.
I survived this round of layoffs, nicked but still standing. I feel no cause for celebration, though. I am watching as my profession of 23 years is dismantled, employee by employee. I am haunted by the image of the backs of my co-workers who walked out the door for the last time.
I don’t see myself ever getting used to it.
- Terri Hallenbeck
Labels: layoffs, newspapers