Over the last two years, I‘ve heard about people across the country getting laid off and companies going out of business. Even living in a state with the highest unemployment rate, I never thought it would happen to me. After all, I was the only one at work that knew the networking and security, and the top execs came directly to me when they had an issue. They could never lay me off, because they needed me, right? As of 9:30 A.M. on Friday, January 30th, I found out otherwise. I got laid off. Not some faceless number -- me.
My first question was, "When?" They responded that I had until the end of the day, which meant I had 6 1/2 hours to pack up and say my goodbyes. I think the people left behind were hit harder than I was, because the waiting was over for me but just starting for them. My fate was sealed, but they were waiting to see if they would be next, because they knew how big of a part I played, and yet I still got the axe.
I sought out some friends at that point. It was important to stay positive, and I received more encouragement than I expected. In fact, I continued to get phone calls through out the night. The key was remembering this was a layoff -- not getting fired. I didn't do anything wrong. I had not failed. It wasn't my fault. I keep telling myself that.
On Sunday, I borrowed a van and went back to finish cleaning out my office. It was a lot easier with only one other person there, and she was in another section of the building. I just didn't want to see or talk to anyone. I filled the van with all of my stuff, including several books and tools. I HATE when I can't find the tools I need, and so I always use my own.
The next phase was to pull things together. I am the single father of twin boys (age 16), and they rely on me as their sole means of support. How would I be able to take care of them? How much could we cut back to make ends meet?
I decided I would still get up, take a shower, get dressed, and then drive my boys to school. If I didn't keep things as "normal" as possible and stay with a regular routine, I would just sleep the day away, get nothing done, and sink into depression.
First thing on Monday, after taking the boys to school, I applied for unemployment benefits for the first time in almost 20 years. Strange not having a job to go to. I won't find out how much my benefits will be for a few very long days.
The next step is my resume. I can list previous jobs and teaching experience, but I don't remember the dates or addresses. That means I'll have to dig out the old PII400 I was using when I got hired 10 1/2 years ago, because I'm pretty sure that my old resume is saved on the hard drive... I hope.
How am I holding up? I'm looking at this as a good thing. I used to have an hour commute each way to work, and I was tired of getting home at 6:30 P.M. every night. To be honest, I was just waiting until my boys graduated before I took the risk of finding something closer to home. After all, I was secure in that job, right? This is giving me the boot in the (you know what) that I needed. Maybe I'll even find something within biking distance.
Have you or someone you know gone through this? If so, how did you/they handle it?
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