take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

That was the week that was... 

Typical. Just because I decide to take a break from blogging, it all starts happening at work. Had I been a proper blogger, of course, I would have been giving you live (or almost live) updates from the sharp end, allowing you to live those dramatic moments with me. Instead of which, you must make do with the cold, dry summary after the event. I apologise in advance.

You see, Monday was not a Monday like any other. It had started normally, with my taking up my usual, Monday role. There were mutterings of a departmental meeting at 10, which barely gave me time to boot up my lamentably slow laptop and "sport" the telephone headset.

Soon, Brainiacs, Important People and Happy People were gathering in the main, open plan area where the videoconference screen was set up in such a way that we could only see our esteemed director on screen, looking not unlike a nervous news presenter. We knew something was up.

By 10:30, after hearing about the closure of one of our manufacturing sites (not at all unexpected) and the departure of a director I had never heard of, we had got to the nitty gritty. Due to rising energy prices, yadda yadda yadda, need to reduce headcount, yadda yadda yadda, there would be redundancies within the IT department. We would be told later in the day whether our roles were at risk.

As one of the most recent recruits to the department, one whose role is barely understood by her manager and one who would not be entitled to an expensive redundancy package or indeed any redundancy payment at all, I assumed that there was a high possibility of my losing my job.

When our manager took us into the meeting room and told us that, of us three brainiacs (one of whom had been with the company for twenty-three years, the other, ten), one would be leaving, I began to prepare for my unemployed future. Yes, I was planning to leave anyway, but I had wanted it to be in my own time, my own decision.

I maintained my defeatist attitude as we sat in the pub, bemoaning the situation. A (one of the Happy People also at risk) and I shrugged and said: "Ah well, shame about the Final Salary pension..." Others looked on, sympathetically. Some were very quiet.

I sent an email to my manager, saying that if the other brainiacs did not volunteer for redundancy, then I would, since in all likelihood it would be me. I was soon whisked into the meeting room, alone: "... not a foregone conclusion", "...the decision has not yet been made...", "... don't assume", "... positive contribution to the department", "...not dependent on length of service", "...just wait and see."

I waited and saw.

On the drive home, my eyes were welling up. Not because I was particularly attached to the job, not because I worried about getting another job (well, no more than the standard level of worry which accompanies me through life). Just because, on a very basic, human level, to be told you may be surplus to requirements is not a comforting feeling. Even though you know it's not personal, even though you know that this is how the corporate world works, even though you know that this is precisely why you will be leaving the corporate world behind.

The next day, as we drove to site, I discussed the situation with my close colleague. "Everyone has a unique selling point within the department. You are no exception," he explained. "Think about some of the applications you support. No-one else can support them. Then think about the other brainiacs... Don't undersell yourself. You have skills which are unique." But still, I was the cheap, easy and, let's face it, uncontroversial option, wasn't I?

After returning to the office, the manager began calling people to the office downstairs. First, K, the ten year brainiac. When he returned a few minutes later, he said nothing. I was next.

I didn't hear much, but I heard what was required:

"[...] your job is safe [...] K's role is redundant [...] very impressed with the work you've done[...] want that to continue [...] if you had volunteered, we wouldn't have accepted it [...]"

The shock and guilt took a while to subside. Facing K was difficult at first, particularly as he had interviewed me just over a year ago. He may have been putting on a brave face, but he explained that he had been wanting to leave, hadn't been enjoying the job for some time, the applications he supported were slowly being replaced, he was not surprised by the decision, it was just the kick up the arse he needed to move on. I think he means it. I hope he means it.

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