March 18, 2009

Scary Dances

Today it became evident that my job is a potential fatality in this economy.

It is literally a day by day situation… Company X is pulling contracts at will.

I truly thought I was safe through the end of the year because my group has been funded so. We have a contract, money is in the pot, we have a ton of work, I’ve had to ramp up my hours to keep up, things are crazy. (I've increased my hours 100% over the last month.)

And today, one of the engineers on an upper floor came down and said, “My contract is gone. Company X pulled it.”

My boss said, “Well, we’re safe, we have money through the end of the year…”

And the engineer replied, “yeah, we did too” and that’s about the time you heard the air stop moving in the room as we all quit breathing.


We are waiting. We’ve been hearing all over that Company X, owned by Fortune 50 Y, is going to take a big hit, one that we find somewhat incomprehensible. I have worked for, either directly or in a subcontract position, with this company since I graduated from college, and never have we had the cuts we’re about to see… and so deep.

My dear friend who still works there, a woman I admire so much for her professional skills, and her intellect, a woman that I would use as my mentor if I were back on that track, has told me that no one is safe this time.

No one.

And that is how I feel where I am.

It’s no longer contract by contract or year by year or quarter by quarter… we have officially moved into day by day, and although my boss swears that they can’t live without us, my group is too integrated in day to day field operations, all of us know its not true.

It just feels that way.

Nobody is indispensable.

I love the engineers I work with. I respect them and I have become an integral part of some of their projects. I have known some of them for 20 years… I know their wives, of their children, of their grandchildren. Some of them are forged new relationships, where we are slowly getting to know about each other, as we laugh at stories of new toddlers, Dads trying to find shades of pink that ‘match’ to surprise their daughters with new painted bedrooms… it is what makes what we do tolerable… the people.

And so I’ve been giving heavy thought to this tonight as to what it means to me and what it means to ‘my engineers’ as I have come to think of them. I work for them, but they are my guys.

I’ve realized that they’re in a lurch if I get walked out quickly, if a contract is pulled and I’m told, “its gone…” , so tomorrow I’m going in specifically to make copies of every file I’ve worked on, that is on hold status, and sending it to them, so they don’t have to recreate what I’ve done.

Their work load won't change... their due dates will remain the same... I just won't be there to assist.

I’ll call each of them and tell them what I’m doing. It’ll be part of my closing routine on Fridays… to email them the latest files of the week in case I get walked out suddenly the following week.

Because… we’re playing this day by day… even though it’s starting to feel like hour by hour.

I feel numb.

(More happy places tomorrow... it's been a long day.)

Posted by Boudicca at March 18, 2009 09:22 PM

Oh crap - that's no fun... I will keep my fingers crossed for you...

Posted by: Richmond at March 18, 2009 10:31 PM

Speaking from experience, "numb" is only one of the unpleasant feelings you'll be having, whether you keep your job or not.

I'm afraid it's going to be years before ANYone can feel "safe" about their careers.

Keeping my fingers crossed for you......

Posted by: George at March 19, 2009 08:34 AM

George- This isn't the first time I've been to this dance. I just didn't expect it so soon this time.

This one will be easier. My boss will just say, "We don't have a contract" and I'll clear out my crap and leave.

Before, when I was at Co. X, we all just sat at our desks, while the boss came and tapped someone on the shoulder... and then they did some death march to a conference room where there awaited the manager and HR.

You never really knew who it would be. Phones would be deathly silent for hours while it happened and then it would end and the phones would start ringing and you'd hear, 'OMG! Did you hear they walked so and so out? Can you believe they let HIM go?' and blah blah blah for the next week as everyone tried to figure out who the casualties were.

And then the mandate from up high, "If you are caught making lists, you'll be fired on the spot" and we'd all roll our eyes because we're all engineers and mental list makers and we sure as hell didn't need paper and pen to make a list.

Nope. Not my first time at this dance. I'd say about the 10th... its just caught us off guard as we thought we were safe with our contract.

Posted by: Bou at March 19, 2009 08:41 AM

I'm sorry Bou.

We're getting more and more scared as each day you hear another newspaper has closed its doors. Husband, as you know, is in the newspaper business. We need me to find work before he loses his job. And it's inevitable that he will lose his job. We just hope he gets another 2 years out of it before all the newspapers die.

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at March 19, 2009 08:44 AM

Sending prayers for you and "the guys".

Been there, doing that, know way to many people doing that too.

There is no advice to give, it's not something that easy to understand or go though. It's horrible sitting their day after day wondering if it's your last.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at March 19, 2009 09:30 AM