bentangle

Here’s Where the Story Ends

by on Nov.20, 2008, under About Me, career, money

Today I lost a friend.  He is still alive, and we are still friends (I assume), but our relationship will not likely ever be the same as it was … well … as early as this morning.  This morning I arrived at the office, setup my laptop at my desk and, as I often do, walked to the office next door where my friend sits to chat while my laptop came to life.  I found him enjoying some music that reminded him fondly of a cruise he had been on last year (relevant as he will be going on another cruise in a matter of days).  We chatted about the music, discussed some work-related matters, and I departed back to my own office to go about my business.  The sad irony is that the song he was enjoying was one by the Sundays whose name is the title of this post.  Less than 30 minutes later, he had been laid off and escorted out of the office.

The economic trends that benefited me in allowing me to by my first house with a great fixed-rate mortgage less than a year ago have now led to harder times at my company.  The difficulty is that our business is still busy, still profitable, and still growing, and yet forces unclear have brought about 2 rounds of layoffs in less than 3 months.  I understand the state of the economy and the fact that it may get worse before it will get better.  I understand that many businesses and markets are making painful cuts to weather such lean times.  What I’m not clear on is how one can justify making cuts when the math doesn’t seem to do so.  What I’m not clear on is how one can justify directing such cuts to integral and valuable members of the population.

I’ll admit that I might be biased.  My friend was hired within a month of my own start at the company and we spent the first 6 months of our shared tenure sharing an oddly-shaped, over-sized desk.  Last week I celebrated my second full year in the company and now he has been cut loose weeks shy of hitting that same milestone.  And while I have worked close to him and know what he does, to be honest I know little about how well he does his job – it doesn’t relate closely to my work and we tend to work with different groups of people.  But in the stead of his departure, I did feel some of the ripples besides those that stirred within.  Some were shocked, some became scared.  Many felt that to see cuts so deep meant that few had the insulation they once thought.

In truth, I am not worried about him.  He is a smart guy and will likely be able to keep afloat until something else comes together.  And I have no doubt that even in the current climate, he should have little difficulty finding work soon.  He is very marketable and he knows people.  I’m more worried about the rest of us:  those of us who will need to fill the void left behind; those of us who have today had a degree of innocence stripped away.

I hope that he and I will be able to remain friendly and spend time together outside of work.  I hope that we will be able to remain part of each others lives in some fashion.  But we rarely managed to do much together outside of work before as we both have families to go home to and things to occupy much of our free time.  It was always good enough to just have the time we did in the office.  Now that time is gone.  So while we may end up remaining close, our friendship is forever changed.  Today, that office friend was lost.

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