My phone rang this morning just before I was going to get in the shower. It was Megan, my friend of many years and coworker since I started my job five and a half years ago. She’s off on Thursdays too. Megan had some difficult news to share. She wanted to let me know that half of our department at work was getting laid off today.
I was stunned. I seriously had no idea this was coming. Maybe I’m a little naive. Or maybe I had my head so buried in all the work that was keeping me so busy that I didn’t stop to think about it. Yes, we’ve been insanely busy with our new endeavor, but loan volume came in much lower than anticipated. And I knew that. I just didn’t let myself put two and two together.
I logged into my work email while Megan and I talked, and sure enough, I found an email there. This email had been sent to the group that was “safe” for now. It was a forewarning of what the day had in store. How difficult it must have been to be one of those in the office today who had to open that email and know the person next to them wouldn’t be staying.
I got in the shower after I hung up the phone. And that’s when I cried. Ours is a small company. People grow close to one another there. Our department is like a little family. We work closely together and learn about one another’s lives. We get to know each others’ kids and spouses. We form bonds and spend time together outside the office. We like each other. Hell, some of us might even love each other. We are more than just coworkers.
I thought about Kathy, Liann, Dawn and Jane, single women who work hard to make it on their own. What will they do? I thought about Tania, with two little girls at home and a husband who is a foreigner and underemployed. Tania is the breadwinner in her family and owner of a new home. How will they make it? Jim is a young man who just bought a condo of his own. I worry just a little bit less about the ones who have a spouse at home who can help ease this burden. But I know this is devastating for all of them.
As for the rest of us, we have to try to manage the daily work load with half the employees. We were just starting to catch our breath after an insane peak processing season. It’s going to get interesting. We’ve been asked to prepare to do whatever it takes to maintain our existing business while contributing our efforts toward bringing in new business. We’ve been warned that we may be asked to participate in new endeavors that may take us out of our comfort zones, to adjust our flex schedules and be willing to be flexible about vacation time. All of these things are being asked in the hope that we can get the ball rolling again enough to bring back our friends and coworkers who have been laid off.
I’ll do whatever it takes for as long as it takes. I love my job and have great pride in my company. I know how rare that is. I know that few are lucky enough to be able to do something on a day-to-day basis that they find rewarding and fulfilling. I was fortunate enough to find that just over five years ago. I don’t want it to come to an end and I’ll fight to keep it from happening. But I also know that if things don’t turn around and worse comes to worst, I’ll be okay. One thing this job has taught me is that I can do anything I put my mind to and I can find fulfillment in anything I put my heart into. I’d like to keep putting my mind and heart to use right where I am, but if that’s not in the cards, I’ll just have to carry those ideals with me wherever life takes me next. I just hope that my former coworkers believe the same is true for them.