Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Change comes to me in many different ways. Sometimes it is forced upon me while at other times I choose it possibly willingly, possibly grudgingly. Depending upon the change, I could look at it with enthusiasm or with dread or with a mixture of both, whether they are forced changes or chosen changes.
The past year, almost two years, I have been faced with challenges. This year seems to be no different. Only 11 days into the year and I am facing another major change in my life. I face it with both trepidation and curiosity of where this enforced change will take me. What path will open up before me? What doors will close down behind me? Will this be something I relish and come to love? Or will it be something which challenges my perseverance, purpose and willingness to accept the hand which has been dealt?
Today is the 12th as I write this. After a full twenty-four hours to contemplate the news I was given, I went from feeling as though my world was collapsing around me, feeling overwhelmed with despair and panic, to trying to convince myself there is a whole world of positive possibilities. I have to admit, the last part is particularly difficult to embrace and hold onto.
For those who don’t know, I am the sole source of income for me and my daughter. If anyone has read my past posts far enough back, then they know, my daughter’s father contributes in no way and family and friends live very far away.
Why the panic? Why the despair? Consider for a moment if you were a single parent of a twelve year old, and the sole source of income. What would be your greatest fear?
If your answer was the loss of financial income, then you would know exactly the source of my panic and despair. I learned yesterday, 11January2016, that my job has been targeted as a global workforce reduction exercise. I won’t go into the details other than to say this is with a company which I have been employed and have an excellent performance record for 33 years. Rarely missing a day of work until my fight with cancer in 2014 and was off work for six months. Next month would be a year since my return to work full time.
To say this has happened in the past would be an understatement. To say I understand the reasoning behind it would be an outright lie. When I see my co-workers putting in 60 or more hours a week to get the work done, when all of us are of retirement age with no one to replace us as we retire or depart the company for whatever reason, to know this year has more customer projects coming in, more work in one year than we have ever seen before and now one less person to share the workload, it sickens me.
I feel like I’m one of those people in the story “Left Behind” who went on to better things and left those she cared about behind.
I didn’t post the above yet. I wanted to see how things would progress. The last statement above is really a lie. I don’t feel like I’m going off to better things. I feel like I’m being held underwater and being told to breathe even though everyone knows it will kill me.
I have reached out to everyone I know which sadly is a very short list, asking for letters of recommendation and for them to keep their ears to the ground for any, and I mean any job openings. I am versatile. I am capable of doing anything. Okay, maybe heavy lifting isn’t something I can do, otherwise, I can do anything I put my mind to.
The problem? I’m 55. My experience is quite precise and in a field where the companies have dwindled or merged or outsourced to the point there are very few if any left at all that require the skills and experience I have. I work in large mainframes. I could convert my programming skills and database management skills to those of midrange, server type IT businesses but anyone looking at my resume would have to be open minded about this and willing to take the chance that I am a fast learner. That I can and do learn on my own very well and have done so throughout my career. I have been learning java but without any experience in java, who would hire me? Would anyone look at my 33 years of committed service to one company and see that as a plus and want me even though my experience is not exactly in the skill base they are looking for? I can only hope they will.
Today, I admitted, I am downright terrified. I know I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure I can feed my daughter and put a roof over her head. But what will that mean exactly? Will we lose the home we just bought? Will we end up having to relocate and leave the place we have worked so hard to make our home? Will our other family members, our cat and dog, have to be taken to new homes because we can’t take care of them properly? What will the next few months bring and how will I handle it? Both my daughter and I are wrecked emotionally.
A couple years ago my daughter asked me what makes me cry. Since then she has learned all too well what does. All it takes is the thought that I might not be able to take care of her and the tears flow. I have had to face this in too many ways over the past couple of years. First, the fear of cancer, which by the way, once treated for cancer, that fear never subsides. Now, the fear of losing my job and now the fear of not being able to find a new job that can support our needs. The tears have flowed too many times for both of us.
At the age of twelve, my daughter, and god bless her best friend, have offered to find work and to give me a portion of what they make if it ever comes to that. To know this weight is on their shoulders over my situation kills me, tears me apart.
All because of corporate greed. Everyone knows, those in the upper echelons of large corporations make hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes millions of dollars while those at the bottom make very little, work hard, are over worked, sometimes putting in 60 or more hours a week to get the work done, and are the backbone of the industry that provides for their customers and brings in the money that goes into their pockets. No job is more important than the next. There should not be a pyramid pay structure. There should be just a flat pay. The same pay for everyone. Whether that person comes in new to a job or has worked for the company 33 years, everyone should be paid the same. Everyone should be valued the same. The pyramid pay structure gives the false impression that one person is more valued than the next because of how much they are paid.
Many would argue my logic on this, but a company couldn’t run without the single contributor at the bottom providing his skills for the product produced. There would be no position for a CEO, or CIO or President, Vice President or Director or Manager. No salesperson if there was not a product to sell.
Raises should be the same across the board because everyone has contributed to the increased income that allows for that increase in pay.
There needs to be a revolution in this world. A consideration for people and what they bring and provide. There has to be a stop to paying people exorbitant amounts of money far beyond what they need to live and raise a family on. I have lived comfortably on the amount I was making which is at least 10 times if not 20 times less than those in the higher levels of corporate management. Some people would argue that these people have worked hard to get where they are but I would argue no more than the man/woman at the bottom works to make a living. Many of those at the bottom end up in that position because they could not afford a college or university education by no fault of their own, all because of the pay structure that instills in it a belief that because you are a cashier at a grocery store, you are of less value than the manager or the corporate CEO. Without someone at the register, that company would make no money, because there would be no one there to collect the money from the person who wants to buy the product.
I have no idea what the next few weeks will bring. All I know is I’m terrified. I’m desperate. I would do anything to make this right and take this weight off of my daughter’s shoulders. She has been through so much when she watched me fight cancer. Now, she has to see me torn apart by this situation and feeling helpless to do anything about it. I don’t know how to reassure her that everything will be okay, when I have trouble believing it myself.
When you walk out your door to go to work, or to run errands, or to go to a movie, or whatever it is you do. Pay attention to the person who provides you the service. Look them in the eye and appreciate everything they do for you. Know that most likely they are trying to provide for their family and some of those kids out there? They may just be trying to bring in an extra dollar to help out at home because their parent may either be sick with a critical illness or been laid off of a job they committed their whole life to.