I call my buddy Alejandro to see what he was doing yesterday. He's wasn't doing much and since he's from Mexico, I thought he might find it novel to partake in an American pastime;
Shooting assault rifles.
He had never shot a gun before so I brought my little arsenal with and we headed out to the range.
En route to the range, I asked him what he had been doing with all his free time, because unfortunately he, along with 2,500 other engineers got laid off at one of the larger employers in town. He said he was looking for another job, talking to recruiters, applying, etc., but then he said something that made me quite angry. Not at him, but in general;
"I'm also going to this workshop where they try to help us out with dealing with the stress and the shame that comes with getting laid off."
The "shame?" I thought to myself. Why would he have shame when 2,499 other people got laid off? Fear of not being able to pay your bills, I could understand. Annoyance due to the fact you would now have to restrain your budget and not afford certain luxuries, OK. But shame? Why would you feel shame?
Sadly, it's a story I had heard before. Not more than 2 weeks previously another friend of mine was laid off. A computer programmer. He was telling me how he couldn't bear to hang out with us, his friends, because he was too ashamed he had been laid off. He was in a 2 month depression, holed up in his house, before he got another job (and found the pride to start hanging out with us again).
Another friend of mine just last Thursday was laid off, and though nowhere near as distraught was certainly down and depressed about it. I was keeping somewhat close tabs on her particular employment situation as her boss would constantly berate her for not meeting sales goals, ignoring the fact the economy was in a recession and that sales across the company were down. But despite the psychopathology of her boss, she still felt a little bit of shame.
So let me lay it out for all of you out there who are getting laid off once and for all;
It's not your fault.
Pure and simple, it's not your fault.
I'm not saying this to make you feel better. I'm not saying this to get you in the "cheer up camperoos! The sun always comes up tomorrow. And you should be happy little people, because if you're not perpetually happy, then you have psychological issues and need prosaic!" brainwashed-modern-day-American-mandatory-perpetual-happiness-sort-of-way.
No, I'm saying it because it's true.
It's not your fault.
The reason it isn't your fault is multifold.
One, we're in a recession.
Oh, I know your boss may have berated you and harped on you and told you, you weren't cutting it. But don't kid yourself, the reason for this added pressure is because his boss was pressuring him to boost sales because the regional manager was being pressured by his boss to cut losses, because the president and CEO has noticed the stock price tanking and isn't going to get his bonus this year. And the reason the stock price is tanking is because we're in a recession. A recession, I might add, management should have known was coming years ago and should have prepared for it, but are so incompetent and late in dealing with it, they now have to have massive lay offs.
This is what you must understand from a macro-economic perspective. When GDP contracts at 3.8%, it doesn't matter how good of an employee you are, demand for your firm's product, and thus labor goes down. The company cannot keep you on, not because you're not pulling your own weight, but because there just isn't demand for your labor. If anything, management should be criticized for hiring so many people in the first place, only to lay off again in 6 months when the economic indicators suggested a recession was on the way. It really is something to view as "nothing personal."
The second thing I wish to point out is the childish, assholeic (which is a word I just made up, but is the only way to describe it) behavior some managers have where they lack the maturity to be forthright with their employees and instead insist on blaming the problems of the macro-economy ON THEIR EMPLOYEES!
This enrages me because you have a person in a position of power, a position of authority, falsely blaming their staff for the problems of the company. The reason they do this again is that management is responsible for maneuvering the company through choppy economic waters. Management is responsible for making the decisions, developing the policies and implementing the strategies to deal with the outside environment. And since they are so inept and incompetent that their policies don't work, they don't have the intellectual honesty to admit it was THEIR decisions and THEIR fault that led the company to the dire straits it currently now faces. Ergo, since their bloated egos can't handle it, they blame their staff.
I hear endless stories of my friends being flogged to produce more sales, to make more loans, to sell more cars, despite this being the worst economy since the Volcker Recession. And if they don't, well then it's not the economy's fault, it's their fault and they should feel ashamed as the door hits them on the ass on their way out. To blame an economic crisis currently estimated to cost $2 trillion not on the sub prime deadbeats and corrupt banking system, but because my friend didn't sell enough couches is not only laughable, but hypocritical and typical of management today. Perhaps we should blame the chef of the Exxon Valdez for it running into a reef and not the drunk captain.
The third and final thing I insist you must understand is that your "supervisors" are NOT your SUPERIORS. And I think this takes a little more psychological thinking than normal.
Just because somebody is your boss or is older than you does not make them BETTER than you. Oh sure, back in the day that may have held, but today it absolutely does not.
When historians look back at this recession it is going to be a shameful period for the Baby Boomers for they are the ones who were more or less at the helm of this financial disaster. This is not to foist all blame on them, as there is certainly no limit to the amount of idiotic, disgusting, entitlement mentality driven Gen-X'ers who more or less make up a plurality of the sub prime dead beats and thus are also to blame, but at the helm of all the financial institutions, regulatory institutions, governments and corporations were the Baby Boomers. And they were asleep.
Be they bankers who disregarded any semblance of risk management in an attempt to enrich themselves through commissions, be they middle or senior managers who blindly flogged their staff to boost sales to make bonus at the expense of the integrity of the firm, be they auto manufacturing firms who had not the pair of cajones required to face down the union and basically admit to the reality "we can't afford to keep paying you this much," or be they the politicians and government leaders who instituted policies that channeled trillions to sub prime deadbeats all to buy votes from the degenerates of this country, in all cases sanity, logic, integrity and real leadership were forfeited for short term gain. The decisions being made by the leaders of these institutions were so horribly wrong, misguided and short sighted it is impossible to blame the ground troops over the officers for losing this war.
Of course to blame your elders or supervisors requires some bold and arrogant thinking. You are basically saying, "I, a younger, not-as-experienced, INDIVIDUAL claim to know more than the older, wiser and more experienced MASSES." But all one has to do is look at the empirical data. If the bosses, supervisors, leaders, governors, regulators and elders were right, would we be in this financial debacle? If they were competent, would we need trillion dollar bailouts? If the heads of these firms, the "elite" of Wall Street and other banks, we so god damned gifted, would they require taxpayer money? If they knew what they were doing and were thusly entitled to the rank of "supervisor" or "manager" or "boss" or "executive" would the company be in the red with its stock price tanking, along with the rest of the stock market, impoverishing us with the destruction of our 401k?
Once you understand this, then you will realize why you should have no shame. And not only why you should have no shame, but why you should have pride in getting let go by one of these Titanically-doomed wrecks.
In the meantime do yourself a favor and pour yourself a Fat Dachshund (1 part vodka, 1 part white creme de cocoa, one part baileys). You've earned it.