Friday, March 27, 2009

Recession Realities

About a week or so ago, I found out that my dad is going to be laid off. Yes, his company kindly gave him advance notice. The big-wigs are moving his position out of state to where the company is headquartered and no, they didn't ask if he would relocate. Jerks. Not that that would be an ideal situation for him or our family, but he would have considered it and probably accepted-- at least temporarily. But I know why they didn't ask him to move: money. My dad, a 58-year-old design engineer, costs the company more money than a young buck fresh out of college. His salary is higher as it is commensurate with experience and the cost for his company benefits is also higher because he is older. In addition, if they were to move him the company would have to pay relocation costs and possibly travel expenses. 

So I understand why they are doing this but as I have said many times to my dad, "It is bullshit." And, I will say it again, they are Jerks. Because not only are they shoving him out the door; they also made him sign a document stating that he would be a good little employee and mind his P's and Q's until the transition of his position is complete. My dad really had no choice but to sign because if he fought it, he would simply lose his job sooner and not receive the month-worth of pay they are promising him if he stays. They need him, but not enough to keep him.

Me and my dad. This is us after a choir concert at Pepperdine, hence my ugly dress.

On top of all this, they had to kick him when he's down. This week, my dad's immediate boss took him out for drinks to warn him that the evaluation he wrote about my dad's work had been rewritten by the higher-ups. The warning was that my dad wouldn't like what it said. I think this is the company's way of trying to avoid any legal issues. Let's write up a bad review on our employee so we have a legitimate reason to get rid of him. Except, it's not legit. It's bullshit. Sorry, I can't help myself.

See, this is the thing about the recession we are in. You can hear about it, read about it, feel bad about it, but maybe you don't really take it seriously until it happens to you. Affects you. Before I found out about my dad losing his job, one of my childhood friend's dad had lost his job. Now she and her family have sold the house they have lived in for 14 years and are moving to a rental house in a different city. This same friend told me last week that another one of our longtime friend's dad has also lost his job. WTF, right? All of a sudden, this economic crisis has hit painfully close to home.

Now, when I heard a couple months ago that my childhood friend's dad had been laid off, I felt for her. I understood because my dad (and my mom, for that matter) had been out of work before, and I know what it is like to have an out-of-work (aka, depressed) parent. I know what it is like to have to tighten the family budget. My dad was out of work for four years before getting the job that he is losing now. I was in college at that time and things were tough. But somehow, when I heard what happened to my friend's dad, it didn't dawn on me that the same thing could happen again to mine. Somehow, I thought that because he was doing a good job at a smaller company that appreciated his work, that he was safe. I was wrong.

What worries me now is, what is my dad going to do? How is a 58-year-old man that is closing in on retirement age going to find another engineering job in this economy? Or any job at all? He's not. I really don't know what he is going to do. That makes me sad and mad, but scared, too.

Obviously, this is a topic that many people can relate to. A Web-based video game called "Layoff" has even been created (Play it here). In it, players swap adjacent workers to align sets of 3 or more workers to make "efficiency adjustments" and save corporate money. Line up the workers and they disappear: off to the Employment Office they go! Bankers, however, don't lose their jobs in this game. And a bank bailout is available if you get stuck. Ah, a video game making social commentary. Love it.

The other interesting thing is that you are not just laying off faceless, nameless Joes (or Janes). You're getting rid of people with a story, like "Frankie, a quiet and pleasant accountant with diabetes" or "Wes, the school bus driver and single parent." My dad's story would be, "Paul, a hardworking, dependable guy who still has a mortgage and his daughter's college tuition loans to pay."

So what is your family/friend's story? Has the recession hit this close to home for you?

P.S. Sorry I have been MIA this week. Personal issues + work stress + no sleep + a cold = bad blogger. I'll try to be back in full form next week.

"Layoff" screen shot via Yahoo!


Amber said...

I'm so sorry that has happened to your family and your dad. That is bullshit! I hope that everything works out for you guys and soon!

The recession hasn't hit me too close to home yet, other then when neither of us could find jobs when we first moved to Kamloops. The job market has definitely shrunk, and also the difficulty with me finding a paid internship for this summer. I know my mom's company was doing layoffs, but she was told her job was safe. Hopefully they meant it..

Once again, I'm SO sorry this happened to your dad. Try to stay positive!

PS: Sorry to leave this as a comment on this post but I was just wondering if you got my email about guest blogging? I just hit reply to one of the comments you left on my blog so I'm not sure if it worked. If it didn't and you're still interested in guest blogging email me at amber_yake_09 (at) hotmail (dot) com. If you don't have time right now then that is absolutely fine too!!

Hope your day picks up :-)

insomniaclolita said...

I'm really sorry about your dad and the family. Yes they're being jerks, after what your dad has done all these times for them.:(

Shoshanah said...

That's so awful! It's crazy how this is happening to so many people all over the world. I hope everything winds up working out for your dad (and all your friends).