Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 15: Stressplosion

D tapped on my door as he opened it, and said "It's been nice knowing ya, I just got my walking papers."

Some day I must look up where that term came from.

Anyway, my closest friend at Failing NonProfit was steamed and had just been let go.

Less than half an hour later, Lumberg gave me the same news. Position eliminated. Sorry. It was May 16, 2011.

I'll probably go into the details of how this happened at some point down the line. They're less important today in the aftermath of the stressplosion.

A stressplosion is when the elephant in the room takes a massive dump. In this case, it was a confrontation wherein I was confronted with questions about my effort to find a new job.

I estimated that I'd expended about a 65 percent effort. While this is probably a fair assessment, the honesty yielded a followup: Why wasn't this percentage greater?

The encounter's less pleasant aspects can be presumed. The enduring question is why haven't I pushed harder?

I have many theories, all of which may be valid and none of which may be adequate:
* Shellshock. My work at Failing NonProfit was a "rebound" gig after being laid off from Failing DinoMedia. At Failing NonProfit I was making about $12,000 a year less to begin with. After a year I got a $900 a year raise. I had joined Failing DinoMedia months after another Failing DinoMedia had closed up shop. Three layoffs in about seven years. Having the rug pulled out from you once, that sucks. Twice, you think... "How could this happen again?" After the third time... shellshock.
* Fear. Progressive salary levels since 2000: $70,000. $62,500. $55,000. $60,000. $45,000. $33,900. If I was Benjamin Button that might be OK. The belt is tightening. But it's starting to feel uncomfortably like a noose. The trend is downward. It's worrying me. Prime earning years are becoming fewer. I'm worried about how to reverse this.
* Paranoia. I've read for years about age discrimination. I'm now an "older worker" and ripe for this category. What I think it really means is "wage discrimination." I'm extremely cynical about the corporate world. I think that the principles of capitalism can be broken down into simple concepts, and chief among them would be "pay people as little as you can," "work people as hard as you can," "squeeze their benefits and perks as much as possible," and "instill a climate of fear." Not every business operates this way, but many do. This could explain why so many are Failing. Anyway, as workers grow older, some become less willing to suffer this bullshit. As the Japanese say, "It is the nail that sticks up that gets hammered down." So older workers, while they may have superior knowledge and skills, also are less compliant, less willing to take on crappy wages and benefits, and more likely to be more trouble than we are worth when held up against the chief capitalism concepts referenced above. Thus, we're marginalized. Is this paranoia, or a heightened sense of awareness?
* The market. Things were getting really bad in the latter half of the W era. And they weren't exactly preceded by unicorns and rainbows, unless you were a Wall Street scammer, Halliburton exec, defense contractor or reality TV producer. Regardless of what's being said in 2011 about the uptick in the economy, the job market still sucks. If McDonald's hires on a few new fry cooks, that's job "growth" but it's not career or wage growth. The middle class is drying up at lightning speed. Most of us are screwed and we don't even know it yet. But I know it. After the earlier layoffs, I learned the lesson: Always look for greener pastures. I've been looking for jobs for years, not just the last 17 days. They aren't out there. Amended: Some are out there, but now, instead of a job yielding 100 applicants, it yields 500. The discouragement factor is exponentially greater.

And that's where I am. Exponentially discouraged. My first unemployment check should arrive in a few days. It will be worth $276.

So the house has had a stressplosion. My sometime lethargy created an unfavorable climate and the conditions were ripe. Now there's an unhappy, uncomfortable silence in the house. Mea Culpa. I've got to get moving.

I need a job.

Today's timesheet: 5.5 hours.
Researching jobs/prospects: 5 hours.
Jobs applied for: 2 -- Communications Mgr, Waste Management, Inc., El Cajon CA; EHR Communications Specialist, UCLA Health System, LA.
Other productive activities: Launching "Jobless Journal," grocery shopping, cleaning home office. 2.5 hours.
Nonproductive activities: Stressplosion, Web time suckage, 2 hours.
Song for today: "Chain Gang" by Sam Cooke.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, so I'm a little late reading your blog. Just started it today. I feel your pain....I got the word last month.