Saturday, September 17, 2005

Getting back to "Normal"

Unfortunately, my little blog has been neglected as of late. Things are changing quickly these days. It's left my head spinning, and I'm just waiting for it to slow down long enough to start trying to control where its going again. I'm hoping soon.

I've already whined about getting my sister moved into the house. We're about a month and a half away from settling on our first home, and I'm a wreck about that. Trying to deal with a mortgage, insurance, appraisals, paperwork, money, and a hole in one of the walls that you can see the siding through. I can't imagine how some people can plan weddings and buy a house at the same time.

Things had been going pretty well at work, just busy. I figured that I'd be able to use a little time here and there to finish up on the stuff for the house when I got my project done. I was in the last testing phase, and I was settling in for a nice month-long lull to update documentation while I was waiting for the project to be put into production. Sounds good, right? Wrong.

I walked into work on Tuesday, and I knew it was going to be a bad day when I saw several people walking out with boxes. There had been rumours of layoffs, and they usually occurred every September at the end of our fiscal year. Layoff day always leaves me with the strangest feelings inside. There's the sympathy that you feel for those friends and co-workers who are leaving, but I hate the relief of knowing that you still have a job and the shame at knowing you feel relieved. It always makes me feel like the lowest person.

I get to my door, and as I'm putting the key into the lock, my manager walks out of his office and looks at me. After seeing the boxes of others and the look on his face, I just put my head down and walked through my door. I'm the newest member of the group, and I figured if someone was getting laid off, it was me. I was going to make him come into my office to do it though. I sat down and started up my laptop, then waited. He didn't come in, didn't call me to let me know he wanted to talk to me. After half an hour, I realized it wasn't me he was waiting for.

I head my officemate Dean come in. He was talking to someone in the hall and I heard his voice. Then, the hall got quiet. Dean hadn't come into the office yet. I was afraid my gut feeling was correct. He came in about 10 minutes later and started packing his stuff up. I'd been friends with Dean for the last 6 years, and he was a huge proponent in getting me hired into this group. I was in shock. Dean is one of the best Unix systems people I'd ever met. He could figure anything out, regardless of what flavor of Unix or Linux you threw at him. They let him go and kept me, who's only been doing the heavy-duty systems work for a year. I'm the only person in the group who has any amount of HP experience.

I had to rearrange a whole lot that day. Out went the plan of updating docs and planning out new projects. Dean was working on several ssh projects, and I'd only had minimal contact. I have to learn ssh inside and out in the next two weeks so I can make sure Development can go forward with a new version of software. Not just on Unix - mainframe too. I've made sure that the proxy server project he was working on went to someone else. There's other stuff to be doled out yet.

The worst part about the whole process was the feeling of relief, and I think it made me feel worse than if I had gotten laid off. We're closing on the house next month, and how do you get a mortgage company to give you a very large loan if half your income is going away? I don't have a college degree, so who's going to want to hire me, even if I do have 9 years experience in computers? I wasn't building Unix systems for the last 9 years... I supported VMS, Unix (several versions), and Windows, upgraded OS/390 and mainframe along with the other O/S versions I supported, worked with applications and different third party products. What does that amount to? A whole lot of knowledge that won't get me anywhere. And I'm scared.

I've built my career in this company. I'm respected and well-liked by the people I work with. I've had offers from past managers to come back and work for them if I decide I want to change groups. If I'm laid off, where do I go? I'd have to start all over. And I know I'd get through it. I always do... always have over the years. I know I'm too lazy to go back to college. I hated the work the first time I tried it, right after high school. I don't think it's going to be any better now that I'm 10 years out of doing that stuff. I just hold on for now and do my best to pretend that it will never happen to me. Call me the ostrich.

If you're still with me (but I doubt anyone is), thanks for letting me get that off my chest. It's one of those weights that you can never seem to fully get rid of. It wasn't how I was planning this post when I started, but my fingers seemed to take on a life of their own. I guess this is the whole point of a blog for most people... get those things out there that are difficult to otherwise.

I promise the next post will be full of happiness and light. Or at least stories of taking people's money in poker. That always makes me happy. :-)


Blogger April said...

I understand the feeling. You're right, you would get through it, because you are nothing if not resourceful. Hey, if nothing else - I bet SoCo could use a hot new spokesmodel! ;)

1:28 PM  
Blogger Huge Junk said...

It was my pleasure letting you get that off your chest.

And if you need anything else related to your chest, you just let me know...

4:36 AM  
Blogger StB said...

Such a weird spot to be put in. Good to hear you still have your job.

No more Razz? Where ya been?

9:07 AM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

I'm in the same boat, lots of years with the company, no college degree.

Good luck to ya Eva.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Joanne1111 said...

Good luck with everything, I hope it all works out for you :)

12:57 AM  
Blogger Captain Freeman said...

FWIW, you're not the only one who gets that feeling of relief and the backlash of guilt that goes with it.

I just started my new job in May. By June, it was common knowledge that they'd threatened to fire me twice (both times for being less than 10 minutes late). When the end of July rolled around, the lay-offs came too, and nine less people worked here. I wasn't one of them.

As if that wasn't enough, most everyone here has been with the company for 10+ years. That includes every one of the lay-offs; one of them had been around since the company was founded in 1969.

It's now September, and I'm still getting dirty looks from people who lost close, long-term friends to the chopping block. Suffice to say that the guilt has by now faded, but so has the relief. I wish they'd just fired me the second time I showed up late.

God, I can't leave a short comment to save my life.

12:13 PM  

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