licking wounds


It was a brutal week, people. I had to lay a bunch of people off (I feel safe saying this now because it’s done…and because I’m anonymous and I won’t risk revealing what company I work for I’m airing my thoughts and feelings here–and those of you who do know, please don’t spread the word, even if we’re only one of thousands of companies laying people off).

I have a strange and deep loyalty to the company I work for, but it was fucking brutal. It was heartbreaking. It was personal for me. I hired most of the people, I was friends with them, I am a near-founder at the company, I had to do everyone’s exits. When possible, I gave them their last hugs. And sent them out into the cold. I imagined what they would do with the rest of their day, how they would feel the next morning. I kept it together for the remaining people because HR can’t break down in tears. And the remaining folks have to keep marching on.

Also, I had to do it knowing that my hours would be reduced, and with great uncertainty about my own job security. And with a great need to be comforted, but not always getting comfort. It’s also more complicated than I’m revealing in this post because I dont’ feel like revealing all.

But it’s over. I’m going down to 2 days of work/week. After most of the lay-off logistics were completed, I broke down. My boss knew I was upset but didn’t want to deal with it, but he didn’t have a choice. I broke down and cried and bawled in front of him.

Not great form for an HR person, but what the hell, it’s who I am. I’m an emotional HR person who hugs people at work, laughs in the office, and on very rare occasions, cries behind closed doors.

And I spent a great deal of this week both angry and incredibly sad.

It’s over and now I look up and see the world before me, glimmering under the bright blue winter sky. I feel exhausted like one only is after a good cry or devastating news. What can I do with both these boundaries/limits and possibilities before me? I don’t want to despair.

I’m going to spend the spare time writing. (OMG it is so HOT in this cafe! WTF? Why do they heat it like this? It’s like my parents’ house which is heated to an unbearable 85F. I’m going to DIE from this HEAT).

Okay like I said, I’m going to finish my novel. I’m going to make the best of it. I’m still going to try to accomplish my fun list (because of course you can still be happy and have fun without money and in a crumbling economy)…including that trip to New York (I am so blessed to be spending so little on the trip (sans food and sustenance of course) because of a credit with the airline and because my awesome friend hooked me up with an empty apartment).

But of course, the pragmatic side beckons and says I should take a shit job and slug through.

But I’ve *always* slugged through in life, and maybe maybe MAYBE this is the time to pursue dreams with furious abandon.



Filed under Life

12 responses to “licking wounds

  1. That sounds like a terrible thing to have to do, and I am really sorry. I hope that it was not a total shock to these people, and that they may have “seen it coming” and been able to prepare a bit, both emotionally and maybe even financially.

    I hope you love your time in New York.

  2. I am sorry, Jade, both for you and for those you had to lay off. What an appalling thing to have to do and to have happen.

    I hope you get to use your extra time to meet your writing dreams, and that you have a fabulous time in New York.

  3. I cry silently inside a bathroom stall. We don’t have “offices” for most folks in my newsroom.

    I ache for you and for what you had to do this week. It’s been brutal for all companies, all industries. This economic slowdown has hit my friends and family.

    After covering the fallout on the housing market, the Big 3, job fairs and small businesses, I’m grateful you shared this experience. It adds another human dimension to this economic mess.

    And a side note: The prologue for one episode “This American Life” has an interview with another HR manager:

  4. anonwupfan

    That’s a tough one, to slog through or burn your ships and write. If you can downscale your lifestyle and still swing it, then definitely go for it. If you think about it, many people desperately need that same “shit job” you would be grudgingly taking–one man’s trash…yada yada yada. Like they say, follow your bliss (but make sure you can afford to! ;-))

    That same sad scenario is playing out in HR depts everywhere. Those people that have been fired won’t be paying their bills, which will continue to fuel this fiasco. All this is happening because it needs to happen. We are slowly prying ourselves loose from an unsustainable consumer credit hamsterwheel and that will end up being a very good thing. Worlds will be turned upsidedown though, keep your loved ones close.

  5. Susan and Charlotte: it’s over and now we wish for the best! And now I must figure out how to meander forward.

    anonwupfan: you’re totally right. one man’s “shit job” is another man’s treasure.

  6. You know, living with the nerves and rumors every day that that it might be / could soon be happening with my company, you don’t think of that HR person in the middle, the one who will have to break the news. It sounds like you survived a very, very tough week.

    I had a friend who was just laid off this week… it sounded like her experience was not at all like what you gave the people at your company. I hope they remember that compassion.

    Sorry to all. I still think the two-day work week will be a gift that will allow you to finish your novel this year. Good things must come out of all this.

  7. queenkv: I just saw your comment in the spam area and approved it for posting. I had great qualms about posting this on the blog for various reasons and I thank you for your reassurance that it has had some value.

    nova: HR is a weird little dept–and in many ways I’m not the typical HR person. My own boss (the CEO) has criticized me for not being more “analytical” and for being so moody and emotional on the job. I hate it when he says that–but whatever, I’d rather be called emotional than analytical, actually. I hope your friends all get comfort out there and land somewhere safely.

    And yes–I am hoping the changes will bring good things. I have actually (is it the desperation?) made good progress on my novel this week, more and better progress than I’ve made in the last few months.

    For those of you in New York–I cannot WAIT to touchdown in that great city and see you.

  8. anonwupfan

    “…you don’t think of that HR person in the middle, the one who will have to break the news.”

    Very true. Sounds like short story/essay material.

  9. I love the idea of a short story about a HR person.

  10. hey.
    i’m sorry you had such a rough couple of weeks. my heart goes out to you for what you had to do, how you feel about your friends and employees, and what it means to your work week reduction.

    that said… i hope it is the best thing that ever happens to you, and that you can DO the novel thing and complete it and really soar with it.

    hang in there…. x0 from very snowy massachusetts.

  11. w

    I’m seeing all the positives in here: more time for your writing, seeing your friends, being human. Thanks especially for the last.

  12. anonwupfan, Susan: you are more than welcome to write that short story! I don’t know if I could write a short story about an HR person anytime soon!

    christine: thank you for your encouragement–yes, I think it’s crunchtime.

    w: you are my fairy godmother and thank you for believing in me.

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