HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB
To: “Aging” Baby Boomers, still gainfully employed.
From: “Aging” Baby Boomer, jobless, no prospects
Re: Effective immediately: Embrace your inevitable lay-off
AGE, UNEMPLOYMENT AND OXYMORONS
The Sixties’ adage – “don’t trust anyone over 30” has become “don’t trust anyone UNDER 30.” Make that 25.
With no experience but their awesomeness, 20-somethings are circling your cubicle, thirsty for the Kool-Aid of legions of corporations, eager to hire/exploit them.
Georgia is a “Right to Work” state. Employers can fire anyone at anytime for any reason or none. Does Right to Work sound right, or work, in that context? “Right to Fire” is more like it.
With 7.9% November unemployment, Georgia ranks 51 out of 50 states. 51 of 50? Does that sound like fuzzy math? North Dakota, at 2.8 %, is number one. But I’ll take Atlanta’s unemployment over lifetime job security in a frigid wilderness that I’m not sure exists.
Fellow Georgians, age, seniority, expertise and wisdom are pre-existing conditions that will deny your right to work.
April – the Cruelest Month
One Women’s Story
**** Disclaimer: Contents are confidential, intended solely for lawful recipients. Information herein shall be judged as neither true nor false. All assumptions are subject, but not limited to, penalty of death and dismemberment.
Last spring, a Tuesday morning like any other, I fought traffic to arrive at my desk by the prescribed 8:30 a.m. Began to check 30-to-60 daily e-mails that consumed alarming chunks of the day, which ended no earlier than the prescribed 5:30 p.m., and too often, as late as 11 p.m.
At 10 a.m., I was summoned to a conference room – the same sterile square where, over five years earlier, I had excitedly interviewed, four times, for my job.
My supervisor, and a human from H.R. wore forced masks of solemnity, akin to euthanizing veterinarians and funeral planners.
On the gleaming table, a gunmetal gray folder next to a tissue pack, eliminated the need for extended dialogue.
After a few clichés, stock euphemisms, and, I’m delighted to report, no tears, “THE DAY OF THE LAY OFF,” was official.
I was instructed to clear out my office, under tight surveillance and immediately exit the building.
I threw years of hard-earned stuff in a black garbage bag. Security Director X, in gallant Santa Claus/Grim Reaper fashion, lugged the 40-pound sack to my get-away car. His probable back strain may have precipitated a workman’s comp claim.
Traumatized, I observed speed limits, as a gentle rain began to cleanse my pre-conditioned mind. I would not be among miserable millions strangled by the afternoon anaconda of Interstate-85 that crushed all souls in its path.
Tomorrow, I would not be jolted at 6:30 into a zombie routine by “Aurora,” the I-Phone’s oxymoronic “soothing alarm tone”
. Time began to expand, as had “other duties” at my former job. Blessing those still toiling in terror of becoming me, I bravely saluted the mighty glass towers of American Commerce with a defiant:
“So Long Suckers!”
My garage door sealed me in a womb of my own. Upstairs, I tossed the Top Secret folder on the bathroom sink, and nestled in for a deliciously forbidden, much-needed nap.
And yet – voices of vindictive victimhood alliteratively fired my synapses. Anxiety unmoored me. I floated in uncharted waters toward an identity crisis. My vision blurred in auras of an oncoming migraine. Before I could rouse myself to retrieve a few Ativan, an apparition appeared.
Neil Diamond materialized at the foot of my bed.
“I am, I said – to no one there. And no one heard at all, not even the chair.” His eyes darted to my Ikea futon. “I am I cried. I am, said I. And I am lost and I can’t even say why. Leaving me lonely still.”
“You are not, oh Diamond Ghost,” said I. Slow deep breaths, OM SHANTI, SHANTI and a labored progressive relaxation. I began to count, like sheep, the positives of my plight. And dear readers, I was lulled to sleep. And when I woke, the truth had set me free.
To save others from Neil-Diamond hallucinations, I must share my gratitude list.
Top Ten Unemployment Benefits: (in ascending importance)
1. Unemployment Benefits (see # 10)
2. Sleep by one’s own circadian clock
3. Days of week become irrelevant
4. Prohibition repeal: 24/7 drinking legalized/encouraged
5. Civilized, leisurely meals, minus Red Bull spills on desk computer
6. Attention diverted FROM work demands – 16-hour workdays; unquestioned questionable policies; co-workers’ wildly clashing temperaments – i.e., depressive slobs sharing 4 x10 ft. cubes with OCD neat-freak perfectionists.
7. Attention diverted TO neglected home malfunctions – mainline plumbing leaks; dead and dying plants and/or pets; overlooked burglaries while front door rotted; roach and/or rodent infestation, and the like.
8. Wardrobe spending shifts from pricey dress-code Kate Middleton frocks, heels and tiaras to tie-dye leggings, over-the-thigh Dominatrix boots and tribal belly dancing garb.
9. Cost of living – * gas now annoyingly a dollar less than my former $75 weekly workweek tab. * fewer visits to doctors, hairdressers, therapists and plastic surgeons.
10. THE GA. DOL (DOLLARS of LOVE) After the fangs of COBRA; post-severance-pay purgatory; Wells Fargo, (Hell’s Cargo) bouncing checks like an NBA playoff; Account lockdowns and a brief stint in an Australian Debtors’ prison, I repatriated into the sheltering arms of my local DOL.
I’m happy to dispel horror stories – mile-long lines, 10-hour waits, surly workers and complex claims.
Oh, no, no. no. To enter the DOL is to a step into the light, where all are welcomed. I arrived on a Wednesday, stood in a line of two people, admiring the retro Mid-Century modern décor.
Faster than Hells Cargo could utter – “are their no institutions for you and your filthy children” – Arthur, a kindly gentleman, welcomed me with a smile and handshake. Speaking to me as a fellow member of the human race, he restored the last shreds of my dignity stripped by Corporate, Big Banking, Wall Street, U.S.A., INC. * see 16-page agreement in legalese and unreadable small print
Rather than demanding four pieces of identification, my great-grandmother’s blood type, the middle name of the first boy I kissed, the zip code where the incident occurred, a living will and a confidentiality agreement waiving all my rights, the avuncular Arthur simply handed me an unassuming booklet.
Though it was less complex than a Pre-K Christmas recital, he explained EVERY RELEVANT PAGE. Then, unthinkably, he physically led me to a computer station (straightening chairs along the way, taking pride in his workplace.) He set the screen to the correct page and directed me through the process.
“Don’t forget to re-read those 3 pages, now,” he said. “Remember to fill out that form every Wednesday. You can do it online if you want.”
Online? Pshaw! I want to visit my BFF Arthur, luxuriate in the chic surroundings, and peruse the plethora of job opportunities.
This week’s spotlight employers: Caterpiller; Synovis; Dial-up Dialysis.
While chasing caterpillers, manufacturing Synovises or cleansing kidneys are noble professions, I need look no further. I’ve found my calling.
My dream job is at the Department of Labor, where everyday is Wonderful Wednesday and compassion for the workers of the world stands up to the robber barons of the Corporate States of America.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! And God bless us everyone.