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18 March, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Massacre

Yesterday, walking to the bus stop, the varied thrushes sang. Not the ditty of Spring promise, but a dirge, their voices calling out like the mournful creaking gates of abandoned homesteads.

After forming a list weeks ago and repeatedly telling us we'd learn on Monday, the powers-that-be tacked on another day of anguish, wating until the 17th to begin hewing away at the staff. After much deliberation, apparently, it had been decided that the cutting crew would sit in a room downstairs, and we would sit in our cubicles. Your phone would ring, and you would be summoned down to hear what you knew from a simple ring. Like many offices these days, phones hardly ring on our floor, as the business of state whizzes in silent packets through the ether. (That would be email. No editor here to rein me in.)

Anyway, a phone would ring, and everyone in the neighborhood would know. The one for whom the bell tolled would manage an "Alright," and rise for the dead man walking routine. The rest refrained from banging out coffee mugs on the cubicles, but it was pretty much that vibe. The living also refrained from cubicle meerkatting; there's something wrong with popping up for a glimpse of carnage. Instead, we hunkered down, emerging only to commiserate and offer what we could by way of comfort.

And the bells rang out death all around. About a fourth of the people in my section, jobless. And it being a big state office, with a big union contract, the agony has just begun. Those laid off had to fill out forms, some of which set the stage for "bumping," by which they can displace less senior people. "Good morning. Your job is gone, but if you'd like to pass along the misery, we may have a place for you earning far less." So the iterations of displacement will cascade on down.

So yeah, I escaped. What am I complaining about? The System, what else? Not the poor people stuck doing the deed, even. They built the staff, and the cumulative misery of laying off person after person had to lay heavy upon them.

Shitty day, all around. Relief at having a job, gratefulness even. But there was no joy to be had.

1 comment:

  1. Ours is coming...and this after a gutwrenching round last summer.

    Having to remember to take deep healthy breaths.