Lockdown: Wednesday, Bloody Wednesday

Two weeks ago, I mentioned a hastily called departmental Zoom meeting. Hasty because my supervisor wanted us to get the news from her, and word was already zipping around the organization. They were laying people off. Ten percent of the company.

We all knew it was probably coming, but that’s ten positions. It was going to be painful.

I was certain I would be let go. With some friends at work, I composed a list of my twelve likeliest candidates for being cut loose, and my name was at the top of the list. I’ve been here three and a half years, and I’m the most recent hire in our department.

Plus, I’m replaceable. As my boss pointed out in a conversation later, everyone is replaceable, but I’m the most replaceable. I just write. Nearly everyone in my department can do what I do. One of my colleagues, in fact, held my position for some time before I came aboard. The truth is that you could remove almost anyone from our team of six or seven, and the others could cover the bases. Not as well as the one person, but ably enough.

However. Last in, first out, right?

They told us we’d know by July 15. That was effectively three weeks’ notice. I was stressed, not because I can’t handle unemployment — I’ve been through it a couple of times in recent years and I was okay. I just really like what I do, and I really like the people I do it with.

When I worked at the engineering firm, the mission was the work itself. We existed to get work, and we did work to get paid. There are bigger-picture concepts, sure. Runways have to be engineered so planes can land safely upon them, and planes bring tourists who drive our economy. Safe stream runoff protects property, ecosystems, and lives. These are important, or it wouldn’t be such a lucrative, competitive industry.

I made it work for me because I loved (I mean really, really loved) the people I worked with. It brought me into the office every day and kept me there late at night and on weekends. I also thrilled to the challenge of doing good work in an area previously foreign to me, but I have a feeling that would have translated to almost any job that relied on my thinking and writing skills.

But I don’t really care about runways and runoff. I do care about young men and women. I care about research and education. My work, however indirectly, helps people get educated and research get done. I’ll stay up all night working on the cancer center proposal because something I do today might bring us closer to alleviating the destruction of cancer later. That’s something.

I think I’m underpaid by a lot. Still, I’ve already told my management that it’s not a reason for me to leave. I want to do what I’m doing, and I want to do it with the people I do it with.

I survived Bloody Wednesday, but boy was it a difficult day. Word came through the textline that so-and-so was packing up his stuff and saying bye in the main office, where not that many people work nowadays. Over the next few hours, other names trickled down. No way. Her? She was going to be a lifer. What? How are we supposed to do our work without a such-and-such? Who’s going to replace that person’s experience, smarts, and culture-defining personality?

This person heard someone was saying bye. That person was CCed on an email that made it certain another person was leaving. It was a rough way to get the news.

By the time we had our all-staff meeting, I had half the names. I got the rest later. Nobody on my list of twelve likeliest candidates took the axe. I suck at this, which should really teach me a lesson.

There were tears. There was anger. Actually, I didn’t pick up much anger from the others, but I felt it myself. These are good people who showed up for work every day and did their jobs the best they could. None of them deserved this.

I honestly like everyone who didn’t make it; some of them I consider friends. I texted a few to offer my support, then got on social media to reach out to former coworkers and let them know who was suddenly available, in case they had leads or references.

With tempered relief, none of my closest work friends was on the list. Small consolation, but consolation.

This is going to be a long time recovering from. For me and for this company.

I still managed to get two things turned in, despite most of the day spent working things out with co-workers behind the scenes. One was a monthly report I wasn’t as careful as usual putting together. Another was a revision of one of the two stories I submitted the night before.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Yay. I finally got my act together the night before. I made it this time with macadamia milk. I have a vague memory of it being pricier than organic almond milk, and either it was on sale or I splurged, most likely the latter. I’ve been reading some unpleasant things about almond milk, ‘though I honestly don’t know that macadamia milk is any more socially responsible.

Almond milk has a distinct almond flavor. Cashew milk has a slightly less distinct cashew flavor. Soy milk doesn’t taste like soy (but then, what does soy taste like? Shoyu? Tofu? Kinako? Edamame?), but it tastes like its own thing. The others all kind of taste the same, and I don’t know that I could pick macadamia milk out of a lineup with oat milk, rice milk, or any of the other opetions I’ve tried.

So now I have to investigate the nutritional info. If it’s all pretty much the same, I’ll feel better about macadamia milk than almond milk and I think I can afford it, at least for now.

I had a very late lunch of instant ramen with a mountain of bean sprouts and baby bok choi, plus an egg and several splashes of apple cider vinegar.

My usual all-night McD’s was closed when I went to fill my water jugs! So I stopped at 7-Eleven, and dinner was an egg salad sandwich and a turkey pesto sandwich.

My computer’s running out of juice, so I’m ending this here. I’ll catch up with tomorrow’s entry. I’m at the laundry and don’t want to save posting this for after breakfast this morning.

Reach out. I’m here. Etc.


What am I thinking? I have my wireless mechanical keyboard here and a cool phone. I can continue my silly musings this way, which I’m doing. 24 minutes left on the dryer.

I still have a bag of bean sprouts, one head of baby bok choi, and one block of tofu, but I’m not feeling instant ramen Thursday. Maybe a little stir-fry tonight.

I think I’m going to bake bread, too. Or, make bread. I’m not sure you can call what I do with the bread machine actual baking.

Texted my sister to check on her, since the last time I heard from her was before Mothers Day. She’s okay. Still working. A lot.

Almost all the rest of my texting was frenzied exchanges with co-workers. I sent a couple to the people who were let go, letting them know I’m here for them.

And as I’ve mentioned, lots of IMing to let people know I have ten wonderful former coworkers who are looking for positions.

Crush Girl and I talked about a chain restaurant she tried for the first time. There was more to it than that, actually, and my exchanges with her Wednesday were the highlight of my crappy day.

I caught Ali up on the work situation. She was predictably as miserable as I am about it.

There were some really silly memes in the engineering group text. I mostly kept out of it.

Didn’t go for a walk because it’s laundry day.

Two Helloween albums were very high on that Loudwire list of 25 greatest power metal albums of all time. The first was a no-brainer: Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part 1. I own it on CD and although it’s flawed, the band’s second LP is one of the defining albums of the genre, almost setting the tone for all the power metal that followed. Other albums were more influential on developing the genre, but this is one of the earliest that’s recognizable today as straight-up power metal. “Halloween” on this album is possibly the greatest power metal song ever recorded. Ooh, another list I could make.

The other album on the list was the band’s third album, Keeper of the Seven Keys, Part II. Haha, laugh all you want. I know how dorky this all sounds.

I’d never listened to it, ‘though of course I always meant to. Between the end of my workday and my (far too late) bedtime, I played it a few times, and holy moly. Its position at the top of Loudwire’s list may be justified.

Top to bottom, it’s definitely a better album. Song-by-song, you can hear the band’s growth into this new-ish form it was pioneering. While nothing on the album is as cool as “Halloween,” that song’s counterpart on this Part II album, “Keeper of the Seven Keys,” might be a better song. I might have to listen to just this song on repeat a dozen times or so, as I have often done with “Halloween.”

Most striking to me is how very much better this album, number one on the Loudwire list, is than that Lost Horizon album I listened to Tuesday, and the Lost Horizon album was number seven. The dropoff is freaking steep.

If I’m babbling it’s because I’m excited. Such a good album, and such a great (long delayed) discovery. I’m going to see what’s out there on CD because I have to own this.

Thirteen minutes left on the dryer and I have thirty-something turns to take in Words with Friends. So go spin that album if you know what’s good for you!

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