Thursday, December 4, 2008

What I Learned About Unemployment From Somebody I Once Laid Off

One cannot predict the future for certain, but I can, with little fear of contradiction, forecast that I will no longer be working at my current employer beyond May 31, 2008.

The way it has all come down is thus: many in the back office will lose their jobs as of January 31. Some are being “asked” to work right up until the end, while others are permitted to work from home, or simply stop working altogether. Those departing on 1/31 will leave with a token severance and a don't-let-the-door-hit-you sincere thank-you from their employer.

The branch and sales staff, by and large, will continue as employees.

The remaining group are being asked to stay through a transition period. Fortunately, this group includes me and the substantial majority of my team. In consideration for signing a one-sided, waive-everything-and-ask-no-questions release form, we will be eligible for a bit of an incentive package if we can stick it out until the end.

Termination dates vary for the members of this group; as I mentioned, mine is 5/31.

If an employee were to ask me what they should do with a planned Memorial Day job transition, I'd tell them, finances permitting, to take the summer off and spend it with their kids.

And that is what I hope to do. There are still six months between now and my pending independence, but if things all go as planned, I will take a month or two to spend with my kids. A real summer! Who can even remember what such a thing is like!? With my kids getting older, I know it's unlikely I'll get another opportunity like this.

A while back, when I was running my own small business, I was forced to lay off a good employee and good friend. Jim decided to take advantage of the unplanned career recess to follow a dream, and hike the Appalachian Trail from bottom to top. And that's what he did.

Jim died recently of an illness that robbed him of his ability to stand, much less hike, for years before his death. Damn, he was happy he took that opportunity when he had it. If I really manage to take a chunk of the summer off, it will be in part due to the example that Jim set for me.

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