Happy Spring – 3 months after my layoff

It has been several weeks since my last post. I took some time to learn some of the basic functions of WordPress. I hope to make more frequent posts in the coming weeks.

I wanted to share my experiences of getting the notification of getting laid off as well as some of the events that occurred when the day finally arrived. I hope this can help you see how things worked out for me and just some ideas we can carry with us and remind us on how we treat each other matters.

While I was working in September, things were going well on the project I was working for the past year and a half. We just completed validation testing on the project and were getting ready to document the results to document for certification. Though the company was not doing well and I was prepared for the notice, I never expected it to actually happen.

I received a meeting notice from my manager on a Friday morning. I thought it was a mistake as we had already had a one on one meeting earlier in the week and our discussion never indicated of the impending notice. I responded back to my manager that I thought it was a mistake but he did not reply back, but I still accepted the meeting notice anyways. As the morning wore on, I realized that the date was also the date they would be giving the 60 day notice to employees who would be involuntarily laid off. As the meeting time got closer, I realized that this meeting is likely my manager notifying me of my status as one of those chosen to be laid off in November. The date was September 18th and 60 days later would be November 20th, the day the company had publicly announced that the second round of layoffs would be initiated.

So when I got on the meeting, I was ready to have my suspicions confirmed by my manager. Indeed this is what I received. Despite the bad news, I was not sad but disappointed that I would be laid off and could not continue my career. In some ways, there was relief as I would not be living under the constant worry that I would be laid off in future workforce reductions. Perhaps in the past I had prepared myself for such a day knowing that it could possibly happen but again did not expect it to happen.

After 19 years, I was facing uncertainty and some fear on what the future would hold. I felt like I was institutionalized in the ways of my corporate life as I had been serving a 19 year sentence of professional development. The constant spinning of the hamster wheel of modern professional life for me would be coming to a temporary end.

I had 60 days left and did my best to continue to do a good job while considering what my next steps would be. I put the following plan in place:

  1. Find an internal position. Doing so would keep my seniority at the company and continue to provide a bimonthly paycheck.
  2. Find an external position. This would mean leaving the company but at least I would have a paycheck.
  3. Start considering life after work and prepare what I would do without having the daily grind of a job with a paycheck.
  4. Look into options for Web development boot camp.

As the date of November 20th got closer I implemented my plan. I called my colleagues to determine if their departments were looking for people. I tried to stay internal as I could retain my seniority at work. I was lucky and got an interview for an internal position but did not make it to the next round. That was a couple of weeks from the November 20th date and as the date closed, I knew that any other efforts to stay internal would be just rushed.

So on the morning on November 20th, I went into the office for the last time to return my computer equipment. The morning was cool with a little rain earlier, as is common for a late fall morning in the Pacific Northwest. As I sat at my desk and gathered my personal belongings, I saw a few other colleagues who also experienced their last day in the office as well. The atmosphere was a little sombre in the cube area due to the many empty desks due to the new normal of our Covid19 world of remote work.

As we completed our personal tasks to tie up loose ends and collect our belongings we would leave one by one when ready and be escorted out of the building with our respective managers. My manager was not very talkative during his escort and it made me wonder if they were trained to act that way when escorting employees out who have been laid off or terminated. The silence would be an easy way to deescalate the situation and any hard feelings that may arise from the layoff. Upon reaching my car, I thanked my manager for the opportunities and if things change and they need help, they have my contact information.

I drove off the campus and was in a sense emancipated from the day to day grind of corporate life. I was excited to see what would be next. The experience made me confront the conditioning that our educational system places on us to be constantly employed and keeping us busy and preventing us from simply living.

During the course of my march towards November 20th, I was contacted by numerous number of people trying to help out. About a week from that date, an old colleague of mine contacted me to just get caught up and talk. He saw my name on the list of people who was being laid off and he just wanted to reach out and just chat. He had made his way up to becoming a manager and was the skills leader for the organization he was a part of. This old colleague started the same time I did and was excited to be working on airplanes. The group he was in was toxic and he suffered from some mental health issues that he credited me in helping him out. He took some time off and later returned to another group where the climbed the ranks and made it into management.

I was happy to hear from him and he reminded me how I helped him during his time of crisis. He contacted me to let me know that he wanted to help me out during this time of transition and to let him know what he could do or to reach out anytime should I need someone to talk to. This one particular event reminded me how we treat each other matters and people will remember you for how you made them feel in past interactions.

So during theses difficult days of the pandemic, remember how you interact with others. Treat each other with respect and kindness. I know this is cliché but getting laid off has shown this to be true.

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