Sunday, February 08, 2009

The best-laid plans...

Well, it’s been a crazy week. And not a fun sort of crazy – not like riding roller coasters, or bungee jumping, or getting on the wrong train in a foreign city and ending up in the part of town where the circus performers hang out (“dude, that was CRAZY!”). No, this has been the kind of crazy that pops up at annoyingly inopportune times to cancel the happy opportunities you’d been comfortably getting used to…

Last Saturday, I decided at the last minute to fly up to Chicago with Rick on his usual Sunday afternoon flight. It was a good week to go, since Rick only had a few appointments to take care of, and Eric was off work until Thursday night. So not only were Rick and I able to hang out all day on Monday, but I was able to hang out with Eric on Tuesday and Wednesday when Rick was working. We went to the Art Institute, we ate at a cool little breakfast place called Toast, we bought some DVDs at Best Buy and some popcorn and orange cream soda at the grocery store and had a movie marathon – and then at night, we met up with Rick and had dinner at a few of our favorite Chicago restaurants. All in all, it was a fun visit, and served to reinforce my excitement about our impending move to the city. Rick and I had even seen some great condos when we were out wandering around on Monday – and many were well within our price range, too. Chicago was so close I could taste it… even literally, when I was at those restaurants (yuuuum… Basil Leaf Café… tastes like Chicago…)

Thursday morning, we packed up our suitcases and got ready to run out to the train to catch our flight back to Austin. But before we could leave, Rick had a conference call with his boss – so I ran downstairs to the Starbucks in the lobby of the hotel and bought a couple of cappuccinos. When I walked back into our hotel room, Rick had four words for me: “I’ve been laid off.” I only had one word, myself: “WHAT??!?!?!?” He was still on the phone, so I placed his coffee on the desk and then took my own cup over to the window and, feeling stunned and disbelieving, stared outside. What else was there to do?

We’ve known for a while that Dell was layoff-happy this past year. People have been dropping like flies, left and right. But we’ve been pretty secure in Rick’s position with the company, and he’d been repeatedly assured that he was in a good area for avoiding layoffs. And besides, Rick is GOOD at his job. I mean, not just good – like awesomely super good. Rick is the reason someone coined the phrase “he could sell ice to an Eskimo” or however that saying goes. If you want someone who’s dedicated, and ambitious, and willing to go to great lengths to make sure customers are happy, you can count on Rick. Tootsie Roll isn’t gonna give away bags of their entire candy line to a guy who has no clue what he’s doing. So this really was a case of, “if Rick can be laid off, ANYONE can be laid off.” Those who remain must be afraid. Very afraid.

Needless to say, there go our plans for a move to Chicago. I’m a bit crushed, to tell the truth. I was starting to really look forward to my new home, even though my moving plans weren’t finalized. I was having so much fun looking through my new Chicago books and finding restaurants I couldn’t wait to try or places I couldn’t wait to visit. I had visions of walking to a farmer’s market in the middle of summer and purchasing fresh produce for that evening’s dinner. I was looking forward to spending more time with my brother and inviting him over for my farmer’s market dinners (and biscuits, of course, Eric… lots of biscuits). I thought maybe I could find a job at one of the many publishing giants with locations in Chicago. I was already anticipating a cheerful and wonderfully cold Christmas, and hoping everyone could come to my fantastic new condo for Christmas dinner and presents. And sure, I had plenty of worry, as well – like all the packing I’d have to complete once the house sold… or wondering how to transport my very old cat and dog to a new place… or thinking about whether I’d be able to manage navigating traffic downtown… or just being concerned for my general safety in a city so much larger than my own, with millions of strangers and many dark alleys…

But for the most part, I felt a sense of hope and adventure, and I couldn’t wait to embark upon the next chapter of my life. But apparently I wasn’t quite finished with THIS chapter. What’s funny is that Rick truly feels like a chapter of his life has come to a close, and he’s moving on to something new... I, however, seem to be back where I started…

The good news is that Rick did get a severance package, and has a profile on LinkedIn, where he’s been networking with various people. It seems that getting laid off is a bit like attending your own funeral – suddenly people are saying all kinds of great things about you that you never knew they were thinking. Dozens of Rick’s friends and co-workers have written recommendations for him, and he’s already heard about a few possible opportunities. And knowing Rick, he’ll attack his job search with the usual tenacious determination he always displays when he’s working toward a new career goal. He’ll find something – I have no doubts about that.

But I WILL miss that great Chicago winter weather…

5 comments:

Georgie B said...

I'm truly sorry to hear that your husband got laid off from his job.

That really shouldn't be happening to good rank and file employees.

I could go on and on about this, but out of respect for you and your blog, I will keep my comments brief and to the point.

All I will say is that I've been there (2003) and I can truly understand and sympathize with what he's going through.

Lisa said...

Thanks so much, Georgie! Yeah, it's one thing to cut away lazy or incompetent employees, but another to actually start going after the heart and soul of your company. Which seems to be what Dell is starting to do...

But all we can do is try to see this as an opportunity for something better -- so that's what we're hoping for. Thank you for the sympathy! :)

Rick said...

And to Lisa's point... I was told the remaining manager (the manager who laid me off was, in turn, laid off later in the day himself) mentioned in a call to my old team that "This time Dell didn't cut the fat, but actually cut into the meat of what was left." I'm not saying I was the meat he referred to, but the cuts made on Black Thursday were far, wide and deep in my segment of the company.

Oh well, as I'm fond of saying about things I can't control... It is what it is.

Bulldog said...

Lisa,

I also have been there, done that a few years ago.

Rick,

Deja vu. The guy who cut me met the same fate six months later, and the CEO who started the whole goat-rope was gone shortly thereafter.

In the long run, I'm kind of glad it happened. I hope it will work out the same way for you.

Lisa said...

Thanks, Bulldog -- it's good to know that things worked out for you in the long run. That's what we're hoping -- that this will turn into a positive change. You never know when something better might come along... :)