Thursday, April 16, 2009

What it was like getting laid off, Pt. 2

The writing was on the (bathroom) wall.

After the Statesman cut jobs in June and September of 2008, no one at the paper, despite the false optimism management tried to feed us, was foolish enough to think the worst was over.

Signs of cost-cutting were everywhere. One of the first places I noticed was in the bathroom. You know those paper toilet seat covers you put down so you don't get hepatitis or feel the unwelcome warmth left over from the previous occupant's naked butt? Well, they switched to a cheaper seat cover that you couldn't even pull out of the dispenser without tearing.

We also got new soap dispensers and new vending machines. And then I got to thinking: If things are so bad, why are we keeping the vending machines when we're throwing people overboard like Boston tea? Soap and toilet seat covers I can understand, but the vending machines? God forbid we can't live without snacks. 

When you view it in that light, it's hard not to think, "I'm less important to the company than someone's afternoon Almond Joy."

None of this, of course, was surprising — I worked for a corporate newspaper, after all. And looking at my backward trajectory — in a little over three years, I went from staff writer for, ahem, a thriving arts and entertainment weekly to second-fiddle A&E/lifestyle utility infielder to finally, lowest rung on the local news ladder — I had been shifted around enough to realize the gig would soon be up.

So, long before I got laid off, I started planning for it, mentally and physically. I polished my resume and started shopping it around town. I jumped on my wife's health insurance. I started going through files and writing down contacts, just in case HR showed up unannounced at my cubicle some morning.

In the end, I had plenty of advance warning, but anticipating it for six months made the whole process a lot easier once it happened. 

Word of advice: Do the same, no matter what field you're in. If you've ever had a kid, approach it like you're planning for the labor — get your overnight bag packed and ready to go, because it could happen at any minute. And don't forget to load up on Almond Joys.

1 comment:

  1. I love the advice you've given on this. So many people think that it won't happen to them, and when it does, they're done.

    My grandfather worked over at a certain large company in Boise that has has a reputation of laying off - ahem. He's always been able to dodge the layoff run until now. The sad part, is he was planning on retiring soon and had nothing to fall back on. Not even retirement. It just makes me sad.