Friday, March 22, 2013

The Ides of March

The Ides of March visited my world one week and one day too early this year.

No, I did not get stabbed by Senators and no, in my dying breath I did not utter a very dramatic "Et Tu, Brute?" but it certainly felt that way when my boss of 9 years hauled my department in for an emergency 1:20 p.m. meeting on March 8th and began the meeting with the news, "It's not good, guys".
It was a gross understatement if ever I heard it.

For the 9 years I've worked at a large law firm in Midtown, I've been at the receiving end of a pay scale that supposedly meets "Industry Standards".  Speaking with colleagues employed in other sectors and other firms confirms that I'm an underpaid peon.  Perhaps it's my fault for staying so long but having a job lulls you into a sense of security.  That cushioned feeling one gets when a steady pay check comes in - enough for bill paying, saving, the occasional concert and maintaining a hobby such as playing video games - is calming.
In the 23 years that the collective 'we' were employed by our client, the news of a filing of bankruptcy took all of 10 seconds to tell and with that, 8 plus people (at least those we know about in our immediate circle) were left with looming unemployment.

The nature of the work has required us to wind down operations and without a fixed end date,  it's been nothing but mixed emotions coming into work every morning knowing that you are hastening the end of your job.

I've heard a lot of advice in the past few weeks:

"Start looking right away!", "Go on vacation, mope around your house for a month then dust yourself off and start looking then." 

"Wait for a severance package!" or quite possibly my favourite today, "Oh...don't rely on a severance package because you're probably not getting one of those that's going to be any more than a 2 week pay check for your almost 10 years of service." 

Well that's completely lovely, isn't it?

These days, I've started noticing a lot more too, now that I am not so self-absorbed.  As I make that death walk to work on mornings, suddenly there seem to be a lot of people with portfolios tucked under their arms.  I whisper "good luck" to them every time I see them under my breath.  It's a little prayer for them and certainly one for myself as I face the same grind in a week or two.

And then there are the moments that I try to be optimistic.

"Well hey, the job provided me the opportunity to buy myself some games.  In between looking I can catch up on that atrocious backlog!"

But my heart has not really been in it.  I've been struggling to play "Breath of Fire IV" amongst other things for the past few weeks and I have the occasional chuckle at some of the dialog but if I can play for more than five minutes at a time, it's a lot. 

I think this is what they call a funk.

Tomorrow though, I am off to pick up my copy of "Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon" at Nintendo World's launch party in NYC.  It was bought on a Christmas credit I had from my very kind sister.

It's probably the last game I will purchase for some while.  So, here's hoping that little green plumber can show me his brave stance against the scary things in this world and give me the courage to go out there and do same.  Well, you know...not become a Ghostbuster (although, any job openings in that field?!) or anything, but some encouragement to stay strong during the tough job hunt would be welcome.

At the very least, I hope he whistles that nervous little tune/theme song as he did in the first game. 

That always cheered me up.


  1. Luigi knows what it's like to spend years in an underpaid and under-appreciated line of work, and to spend much time nervously wondering when that next paycheck will come around. There's no one better suited to see you through these difficult times.

    Pretty sickening, though. After all those long nights you put in, and the occasional chewing-out you had to endure that left you with tears in your eyes over trivial oversights, here's your great reward! a mystery sack with either two weeks severance or a bunch of smelly shit. Whatever, good luck, see ya.

    And yet, so typical of an experience in 21st Century America. And what of your former client's management? Do the fat cats all run off into the sunset with massive severances, sums on which you or I could easily subsist for years, their reward for helming their barge of failure as it sank and hauled you all down with it? And off they go on their liferafts of inflated monies to new, cushy positions provided by the greatest of all employable skills, cronyism!

    Well, I hope none of that is accurate. But I wouldn't be surprised if it was completely accurate.

    Oh well. Let us not mourn the loss of a job, but celebrate the birth of an opportunity. Better things await! Hopefully with more money and better hours.

  2. Thank you. We shall see. Not sure what to expect a no discussions have yet been had.


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