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Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Year of Making Lunches

I spent 20 years at the same company doing a job I liked very much. I didn't always like who I did it for, but I liked the work I did.

My dad worked at the same company all his life. Cradle to quite literally grave.

I had planned to retire from there some day. I did excellent work. There were no complaints.

About a half dozen years ago, I queered a dirty little kickback deal before it could take off. Well, probably did, anyway. It never took off so nothing could be proven. Suffice to say there were a number of people who were unhappy but in no position to do anything about it. And senior management was not among them. But a very ambitious and ruthless husband and wife team were.

It took some time but the wife managed to make it to Vice President, and my department reported to her. Within two weeks of her taking over I was transferred out to another department where my duties were never made clear other than to have my brain picked best they could about my job and how I did it.

Then, early September 2009, my position was eliminated. No place to move me. No black marks against me. Just eliminated.

Which, for a guy who had worked steady for 20 years, less than a dozen sick days in that time, was a bit of a culture shock.

I had been nominally an 8-5 employee but the truth was much longer and stranger hours than that. I was on call 24/7/365. If they couldn't get me at home or on my cell they knew my favorite pubs and had no problem calling them to find me if there was trouble.

So, in addition to trying to find work and trying to stay financially afloat (bailing water on The Titanic with a Dixie cup) while doing so, I took over chores my wife usually handled.

Like grocery shopping regularly. Understand, my wife used to have nightmares when I'd go to the grocery store alone. Especially if I went hungry.

Like mowing the lawn. She actually likes to do it (something to do with growing up on a farm) but I'm getting bored sitting around here.

Shoveling snow. My job usually required me to spend significant storms at the office. 72 hour shifts. Great fun. So for the big ones I was usually at work. Until those few monsters we had this winter I hadn't seriously lifted a shovel in many years.

Making suppers regularly. This is one I'm very good at. I learned to cook as a kid from my mom and grandmom and how to run a good grill in the summer from my dad. You don't get dry burned pork chops when I'm cooking.

Making the lunches for my wife and daughter. I was let go the day after my daughter (daughter #3) started 6th grade. She will be done in 3 weeks. So at 180 school days times 2 that's 360 lunches I've made in a years time. It is the one absolute constant through this whole damned mess. Kid's getting ready for bed? Got to make the lunches for tomorrow.

That may not seem like alot to you who have been doing the same for years but to a guy who is used to listening to phone calls, designing recording and editing auto-attendants (yep, I'm one of those guys who makes you press one for English) and making decisions on the best software to get for call center applications and keeping the damn thing up and running so that emergency calls can get through I assure you the excitement of it is underwhelming.

But this is not complaining here (not that I don't from time to time). It is what it is. I didn't do anything to bring this on and I'm still able to sit here writing this and, although things are getting damned tight after a year of making sandwiches, at the moment, I'm okay. Tomorrow that may change but I'll deal with tomorrow when it gets here.

And I'm happy to report my wife and daughter # 2 state I am far more domesticated than I was in September. If somewhat more curmudgeonly.

The point is this. And this is going to sound like I'm patting myself on the back but here goes.

I have an impressive work record. And very good repertoire of specialized telecomm skills. I come highly recommended. And I can not find work right now.

And I am not alone. I was at a job fair several weeks ago and the line was out the door and down the block for a 3 hour fair. And they weren't just new kids, graduates, looking to hook up their first "real" position. These were mid management suits trying to find work.

When nearly a half million people lost their jobs in one week alone, how can anyone believe there's been an economic turn around? How can anyone say they're being stimulated?

I don't need to ask 25 questions to find out it's all bullshit. I only need to make 360 lunches to know that.

By the way, that husband and wife team? The husband was fired a couple months ago. No severance. I know the reason why and it's not the bullshit story they're allowing as gossip to spread to the employees. What goes around comes around.

And not that I find any glee in this but the day after I left their entire call center network came crashing down. And is still not completely correct. When I met with a friend a little while back he said he saw an email he wasn't supposed to, left lying about, between vendor techs.

"They got rid of the only guy who knew what the fuck he was doing with this system."

:)

someday I'll write a book about that joint. . .

Business Insider:

25 Questions To Ask Anyone Who Is Delusional Enough To Believe This Economic Recovery Is Real

If you listen to the mainstream media long enough, you just might be tempted to believe that the United States has emerged from the recession and is now in the middle of a full-fledged economic recovery. In fact, according to Obama administration officials, the great American economic machine has roared back to life, stronger and more vibrant than ever before. But is that really the case?

Of course not. You would have to be delusional to believe that.

Click here to see the questions you should ask yourself >

What did happen was that all of the stimulus packages and government spending and new debt that Obama and the U.S. Congress pumped into the economy bought us a little bit of time. But they have also made our long-term economic problems far worse. The reality is that the U.S. cannot keep supporting an economy on an ocean of red ink forever. At some point the charade is going to come crashing down.

And GDP is not a really good measure of the economic health of a nation. For example, if you would have looked at the growth of GDP in the Weimar republic in the early 1930s, you may have been tempted to think that the German economy was really thriving. German citizens were spending increasingly massive amounts of money. But of course that money was becoming increasingly worthless at the same time as hyperinflation spiraled out of control.

Well, today the purchasing power of our dollar is rapidly eroding as the price of food and other necessities continues to increase. So just because Americans are spending a little bit more money than before really doesn't mean much of anything. As you will see below, there are a whole bunch of other signs that the U.S. economy is in very, very serious trouble.

Any "recovery" that the U.S. economy is experiencing is illusory and will be quite temporary. The entire financial system of the United States is falling apart, and the powers that be can try to patch it up and prop it up for a while, but in the end this thing is going to come crashing down.

But as obvious as that may seem to most of us, there are still quite a few people out there that are absolutely convinced that the U.S. economy will fully recover and will soon be stronger than ever.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Pastorius said...

I work in an office full of people who used to be Directors, VP's, and owners of businesses, who make 1/4 of what they used to make.

I am one of them.

I know a lot of people who are in the same position as you and I are in.

The fact is, I am considered to be employed, and certainly, I do like having a job to go to.

If I remember correctly, unemployment is at 12%. It certainly is in California.

Of 88% who are still employed, I have a feeling that about 35-40% are making significantly less money now than they were two to three years back.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 1:30:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About that husband and wife team - of which one eventually managed to rise to the level of VP only to undermine your success. . .and about the example set by Dem/temp Rhino party members undermining the '08 election by selecting McCain as a viable candidate - perhaps these instances provide an example to be followed. Infiltrate, undermine to your benefit? I personally don't have the stomach for it . . .yet.

If it's any consolation, I still have fond memories of my mom's balogna & cheese w/mayo sandwiches on Wonder bread.

Your children will cherish their own memories of all your efforts and mis-steps. . . mostly the mis-steps, with great embellishment and humor for years to come. Good luck, and may your next career opportunity present itself soon. -HRW

Thursday, May 27, 2010 1:57:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing. You made me wonder if this kind of thing was the norm for "high-tech". I and many, many of those I know have gone through scenarios somewhat like yours. Seems that if you have been a hard-working, loyal employee for more that ten years--lookout! They will come after you. Sadly, I was in Canada when this happened and it grieves me to say that things have only gotten worse. If it is any consolation, kids who have the benefit of a dad at home do a whole lot better all around--go figure!

Thursday, May 27, 2010 4:28:00 pm  
Anonymous American Rose said...

You were the one that makes me have to press a number to speak English???

That freaking drives me crazy!!!

Oh the supervisors I've spewed venom at over this, and all the time it was you! :)

Hang in there MR! Enjoyed the read, immensely. It is stories like yours that bring humanity to economic statistics and political promises.

I too with my fancy college diploma and name-dropping experience, had to accept a minimum wage job recently, ... but mostly cause I chose to move out here to Appalachia. No wonder the homes were so inexpensive! There are no jobs out here! All the things they say about inner city neighborhoods, can be said of Appalachia, ... but we're just a bunch of white hillbillies, so we don't get much sympathy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 9:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha!! you should add that to your resume :) ya know... oil companies need people who know about telecommunications... just a thought ;)

anyway, you ARE more domesticated. and i thought actually slightly less curmudgeony?! and i'm sorry things are kind of really sucking there :( didn't realize how much until i was about to leave.

i'm serious about the available jobs here though. we have a big house! and if nothing else, you could train my dogs & make me lunches :D

~#1

Thursday, July 15, 2010 6:38:00 am  
Blogger midnight rider said...

What are you doing, catching up on my posts for the last 2 months?

:)

Thursday, July 15, 2010 7:17:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well as far back as it will let me... you guys need to fix that. there is no "see older posts" button at the bottom so it only goes as far however many its set to show per page. and even when you click the links you can't always see the beginning of the link.

but yeah. pretty much. i'm a bored housewife, remember?! (except, no longer starting tomorrow! though since it's an early early job, i suspect ill still have my bored housewife moments...)

Thursday, July 15, 2010 7:50:00 am  

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