Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Working on Life Support

 There's a certain irony in the fact that one of my past clients included
a job-seeker website. Also ironic that it too go cut from our company...

A couple years ago, I read Joshua Ferris' acclaimed novel Then We Came to the End which tells the story of a slowly dying advertising agency. Through lost clients, layoffs and personal tragedy the agency disintegrates character by character until there is no one left.

That book keeps popping into my head lately as I watch my coworkers deal with our impending department death.

We're lame ducks to some degree right now, putting finishing touches on projects we started Before The News. Handling the few assignments our clients beg us to jump on because they don't want to send them to the mothership in Sunnyvale. Mostly, though, we all come in and work on our resumes and portfolios and LinkedIn pages. It's rather nice that we're earning paychecks while we gear up for unemployed life.

It has been an interesting character study to observe the different attitudes of the people around me.

There are the angries. The people who say, "I'm checked out," and no longer want to invest in providing the service we once offered. There are the panic mode-ers who want a job immediately because the instability and wondering is just too much. There are the nostalgics who are most upset because this was a job they loved and they don't want to think about leaving.

And then there is me.

I am caught in the middle of a muddle of emotions.

I'm endlessly excited about having time off to work on my outside writing projects. Although my rational self doesn't feel scared about getting future jobs and income, there's a ratty little voice that has popped up a few times and said, "What IF you can't ever find a good job again?" Then there's the prickly little sadness that crept in over the weekend when I realized I won't get to be around the inside jokes and quirky personalities I've enjoyed so much these last 6 1/2 years. I suppose I'm feeling bittersweet.

I don't know how many more days we'll be in the office—if we'll actually continue coming in until our exit day, November 1st. I wonder if we'll just slip away unnoticed or if our client coworkers will feel our absence and rant about us being gone.

I wonder what my new normal will look like. Whether I'll segment my day into crafting, writing, cleaning and networking spells. Or if I'll talk Mr. Wonderful's ear off when he returns from his 12-hour days because I haven't had enough human interaction. Maybe I'll need to have skype lunch dates with people where I save money by eating leftovers from my kitchen, but still get to chat with a live person in the process.

I'm hopeful that the "great" will outweigh the "unknown." I'm hopeful that I will get paid to write in a new capacity that fulfills me more than ever. I'm hopeful that this job was not the pinnacle. And that I will continue feeling that this has all happened for an important reason. I am hopeful. I am hopeful. I am hopeful.


  1. Six and a half years is a long time. I can understand the mixed emotions. I have no doubt you will be employed again soon in whatever capacity you wish. It's so hard to enjoy the free time of unemployment since looking for work can be a full time job in and of itself. I'm hopeful you will find the balance and the Zen.

  2. Been there! My last company went through a TON of turmoil as each one of us left. There are about 13 people still holding one. One just left and decided to go to cosmetology school. What's strange is that I left that in a good place; we all look upon each other fondly (despite all the drama) and now see each other as family. With all this free time, you clearly will have to travel (do it for me!!0

  3. I'm fairly confident you're going to be talking my ear off when I get home. Although I'm hopeful it's about all the great progress you're making on your writing projects and not all the things the cats did that day.

  4. Being let go is extremely liberating, especially in the final days. Years ago I worked at FCB in San Francisco on Taco Bell. They lost the account (they've since gotten it back), and my partner and I had done the last commercial for them. We had to go to TB headquarters and present the rough cut after the agency had been fired. So we sat around a table. They asked us to make changes to the spot and we said no. They asked if we thought something worked in the spot, and when we said yes, they asked if we were sure. My reply, "I'll stake the account on it." I was a great meeting for my partner and I, and it was fun to watch them deflate when we wouldn't dance to their tune anymore. It'll all be fine. Enjoy the time you have off. When you're working again, it's all you'll think about.

  5. The most insulting thing when dealing with a big event is how easily the rest of the world seems to continue while you're dealing with something major.

    I love the positivity you have while dealing with the scariness of not knowing what's up next. I'm also looking forward to hearing about your writing!

  6. I have a hookup at Costco if it comes to that. ; )

  7. I know our situation is a bit different, but being unemployed has been great. Being able to concentrate on yourself and the things you most enjoy can really help clarify things.

    Even though you loved your job, I think you will come out of this even happier and more content.

    And I am actually never bored, which has been what most people assume will happen.

  8. Wait, you don't already talk the ear off of Mr. W when you get home from work? I kinda imagine you're so happy to see him, no matter how full your day was, that you chitty chat without taking a breath! ha.

    I think you're incredibly fortunate to be OK with not knowing what's next. To be able to take your time, to feel out opportunities, to take the one that feels right ... not many people get to be in that kind of position.

  9. I know exactly what you're talking about ... the winding down, the differing reactions to the winding down ... I went through it when my agency lost the account I was working on. We had that account for 90 years so it was a painful breakup. It was almost a relief when it was finally over.

  10. ha, mr. w's comment made me laugh about the cats. i do the same thing! i've been thinking of you a lot, and know that soon enough, something just right for you is going to work out. keep plugging along and remember that truly, the world is your oyster as far as what you can do!

  11. timing is interesting - so glad this happened after your wedding day and with mr. w returning shortly. i hope you can wrap up soon - the wind down seems a little psychologically tiring.


Well, whatdya think?