Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I have been a wage slave for half of my existence.
My parents forced me to get a job as soon as humanly possible, and I worked through all of high school and all of college.
All 7 years of college.

I have what could be known as the world's most useless degree besides underwater basket-weaving.
But when all is said and done I can sound smart while talking about pop culture and movies. Ooh.
And queer theory.

So I went from schlepping bagels and coffee while in school to schlepping dog poop while out of school. I thought the non-profit-save-the-animals schtick would fit right in with my liberal agenda.
But my job wasn't so much about saving the animals as it was about euthanizing them, and making the place look pretty.
And while I still love dogs, I decided to keep my love for them on a volunteer basis, and keep my liver intact.
Because I had the blue juice blues.
And who doesn't love a stiff drink (pun totally intended) after a day of schlepping stiff animals.

And then a beacon of corporate light.
A friend who we all thought had deserted us for prettier, more successful people emailed.
Strike that.
She checked the email address she had given to all of us (former/current wage slaves) after about 6 months of not checking it.
She thought we had deserted her for a dirtier, smokier, hipster-er bunch.
It was like a god damned O. Henry story.
Hearing the desparation in my voice she suggests I forward my resume to her and maybe there can be an in for me in her retail, corporate world.

A resume?
I'd heard of these supposed job-getters.
But every job I've ever had required mostly correct spelling, okay penmanship, and filling in the application form boxes. None of this resume business.
So like any good job-seeker I googled resume writing and wrote the most basic of basic resumes. Making myself sound as if I could see myself doing nothing but corporate busy work.
And I got the job.
Note: Killing animals has to be the best answer to the "What didn't you like about your last job" question.

Enter montage of corporate clothes shopping spree.

Pay raise, and weekends off, and potential room for growth?
Who could ask for anything more?
I hated it.
I missed my friends who were funny and knew who David Bowie and Bob Dylan were. And how to pronounce their names.
I missed talking about pretentious Fellini films and gallows humour.
What did it matter if I had weekends off when my wage slave friends didn't? When my partner didn't?
I stuck it out.
For two years.
I EVENTUALLY made friends who were different than me, true, but at least knew 75% of what I was talking about and liked learning the other 25%.

And then, cruising the internal job postings...I see it.
A position that would actually use SOME of my degree, and would be salaried. I would no longer be a corporate wage slave. Could it be true?

I got the job.
And things were great.
Partner and I were on a budget, paying off some bills with the pay raise. Maybe an extra cocktail here and there, but nothing too crazy.

Sure I had some anxiety that I wouldn't be good.
That the people didn't like me, but knew this was mostly my own anxiety.
Because everyone likes me.
They do.
Except my friends during baseball season.
Then they get a little annoyed.
So things are going good.
All my former merchant friends are asking me if I like it, to which I would always answer a gleefull "yes."

And then the recession starts.
I mean starts at the corporate retail level.
I know Keith and Rachael and Chris have been talking about the recession for a good six months, and we knew something was on the horizon.
Insert nautical metaphor here.

Cut to:
Awkward hugging of my counterpart, who had been there for 10 years, and helping her move her 10 year old office on a cart.

And I'm a little nervous. But what good is it to worry? Besides giving myself ulcers, it does nothing. It's not fun, it's not even cool.
I continued to do my job, to LEARN my job as I was about a month in.
And I have to say.
I thought I was doing a really good job.
I rather enjoyed the work, the work load was perfect now that my counterpart wasn't there, and things were going well.
I wish I could say there was some foreshadowing moment other than the first layoff meeting, but sadly there wasn't.
I mean. I would have seen it.
Remember the useless degree?
I can pick up foreshadowing from miles away.

Tuesday comes.
And I can't even reference the Moody Blues song as it happened Tuesday morning.
My great grand-boss asks if he can see me for a second.
Amazingly enough, I was working dilligently while he came in my office.
No emailing, no facebook checking.
So he has me sit, then my grand-boss comes in looking sad.
And I knew.
I'm totally getting canned.
Laid off.
So he just says it. Before he even sits down.
"We are going to have to let you go."
Sometimes I surprise myself with my ridiculousness.
"Okay" was my reply.
And they both kind of look at each other.
Not believing that I literally just shrugged my shoulders and said, "Okay" with a smile on my face.
They then went on with the whole "it's not you, it's us, we're cutting to the bone, we love you, you love dogs [that seriously came up], etc. etc. etc."
They brought up free-lancing, staying with the company in a different capacity, call us if you need us type thing.
And then severance.

Severance to me is something they talk about on classy shows on CNN or MSNBC. Not something that would ever happen in my wee little life.

And there we all were.
Talking about my severance that would basically mean I get a month long vacation before I really start HURTING from the lay-off.

Of course, I decide to leave before they do the whole "These are the people who no longer live in your neighborhood" meeting and my boss and grand boss look truly upset, which is sweet.

I call my partner.
"Hey I...need you to come pick me up."
"I just got laid off."
"Oh man...Okay"

So it's not like any of us are extremely surprised by this turn of events.

E. makes mention that we have to go to Target (a not-failing retail giant) to pick up something for the house...garbage bags maybe?
"I just got LAID-OFF!!! We can't afford to just go to Target willy-nilly"

I really did say that, quite loudly in the car.
It took me laughing to make E. realize I was joking.

I've decided being laid-off should be good for a couple of weeks (at least) of poor (in every sense of the word) humour.

And free drinks.
Hey you all have jobs.


  1. Way to go saying OK with a smile. You made a corporate man dream!

    Free lunch on me! Not b/s you made a corporate mans dream...just cus I like you.

  2. this is so perfect and ambiguous.
    little to no detail.
    you do not explain your useless degree.
    or E. or that E. may or may not be a dude.
    or that you like carbs.
    well played.
    i will try my hardest not to buy designer jeans so that i may buy you alcohol.
    because, in times like these, people really get back to basics.