A couple of weeks ago, I had lunch with a guy who mentors in the same program as I (College Bound). He was working at a huge law firm that has offices across the country, just down the block from me. He’d been working for the law firm for 10 years, since graduating from college. After lunch, we exchanged a few emails back and forth. Next thing I know he calls me the following Monday saying he got laid off. I was like what? How did it happen? What did they say?
It made me instantly realize that anyone and everyone is susceptible to getting let go, laid off, the pink slip, down-sized, fired, or whatever they want to call it these days at anytime.
Fast-forward to the following week, I’m sitting in my office getting ready to go upstairs for our bi-weekly staff meeting. Next thing I know my boss sends out an email saying the meeting is cancelled and closes her door. This was strange because in our office we rarely close our doors and if we do it’s usually cracked not completely shut. Since I was supposed to lead the meeting, I’d brought snacks and decided to walk around to share them with my co-workers.
While three of us are gathered in one office, I see this vaguely familiar woman walk by. Next thing I know, my co-worker in the next office closes his door. So by this point I’m like what is really going on? Again, it’s rare that any of us shut our doors, so the three of us look at each other knowing that something’s about to happen.
I go back into my office and the Admin Asst. comes into my office and starts whispering to me, and tells me who’s in the office with our co-worker. All of a sudden my heart sank. I figured out why she looked familiar. I had seen her on the elevator once and after she stepped off the people I was riding with were like someone’s about to get fired. That was the day our HR Director was “let go” after working for the association for over 25 years. Apparently, she flies in from our HQ to let people know their services are no longer needed.
So the woman from HQs walks out of one co-workers office and into another. The Admin and I looked at each other like, okay someone really needs to fill us in on what’s happening. At that moment, she tell our other co-worker she needs to speak with her and closes the door to her office. This time my boss walks into my office and lets us know that two of our co-workers were being “let go” due to “budget cuts.” She then tells us it wasn’t because of anything they did, yada yada yada. Still not quite sure if I believed that. Both of them had been with the company for a while, 5 and 9 years, and both, from what I was told, had run-ins with the higher ups over the years.
It’s surreal to see your co-workers there one minute and the next they’re gone. Coming into the office the next day it felt strange, almost like someone had died. Their once vibrant offices filled with art and photos collected over the years were no more. It was back to being a generic space waiting to be occupied again one day.
Considering my department only had 7 staff members plus a summer intern to begin with, it’s going to make a huge impact on our day-to-day. Everything is so new we haven’t even discussed how our titles/roles/job duties are going to change. It’s easy to be selfish and think wow that’s really going to increase my workload, but in this economy, I sure rather be busy than unemployed.
There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country who are not as fortunate and would love to be in my shoes and sitting in a chair behind my desk. Constantly remembering this helps me to keep a level-head and realize that I’m blessed to still be gainfully employed. I pray that everyone who is dealing with the consequences of the state of the current economy will have the strength to make it through this. I hate watching the news and hearing stories about people committing suicide or even worse killing themselves and their families because they couldn’t deal with the stress of losing a job.
I pray and said thank you to God every night for having a job. I also pray that our economy will turn around soon so the U.S. can go back to being considered one of the most prosperous countries in the world, a title that we worked so hard to attain. For all those who have been affected by the downturn in the economy, please keep believing that things will get better because we all know they will.