Monday, September 28, 2009

A Fall Day

I am standing in front of my office window, leaning with my head pressed against the glass, looking out of the tops of the swaying trees - far in the distance are more office buildings and construction.
It's a cool, cloudy day and the wind whips up every now and then, blowing the treetops back and forth like blades of grass. I look down, down several floors to the ground, where the lawn is dark and littered with dead leaves and broken acorns.
My eyes look up to the clouds. Big gray clouds with shafts of light shining through, here and there.
I close my eyes. And pretend for a moment that I am not where I am. Now I am outside feeling the strong breezes, walking on the grass with acorns crunching under my shoes. I am not inside the dark, quiet office with the oppressive negative energy.
The day after Labor Day, everyone at the Random Non-profit returned from the holiday - rested, ready to work, having dropped little ones off on their first day of school or having made a committment to have a positive attitude this Fall. We'd gotten used to the furlough and the loss in income, and while not happy, at least a normalness was starting to settle in . . .
By the end of the day, seven people were no longer working here: Told behind closed doors their services were no longer required. Only one day to pack up and leave. Some people had celebrated their eighth anniversary with the organization and were moving towards nine. Some people's spouses were unemployed too. One was the admin person in our department of three. Many tears were shed. People packed and went away.
On the third day, those people were gone. The halls were quieter. Those who were left felt hollow and dead and fragile. Then - so quickly - that morning three more people were let go - some of the supervisors of the other folks, people who had just caught their breath and were beginning to try to figure out what to do next, how to get on with fewer people.
Ten people were let go in total. Plus two others who left shortly after - lucky people! They had found other jobs! - now we are down by twelve. One third of the staff - gone. Same work though. Just get it done, we are told. Figure out what needs to stay and what needs to go. Double up. Be glad you still have a job.
Scary stressful. Heartbreakingly sad. Mission? What's the new goal? Is there any? Why are we here? Head down, keep going. Think positive! New opportunities!
I am too tired to do this anymore. I cannot keep a happy face. I have tried for almost a month. Not happening. My schoolwork suffers. I cannot concentrate. Walking though the door is hurtful. Trying to pick up where other left off - trying to figure out *what* was left off - overwhelming. Difficult. Draining.
I am at the window, looking out into the gray skies. Looking down at the trees and the ground. It's so far down to the ground, to the acorns, to the grass. A black squirrel scampers up the branches in front of me and grabs an acorn off the very top of one of the limbs. He cracks it open, gobbles it down, and then races back down to the ground. Life is out there. Life is not in here. I do well to remember that.


secret agent woman said...

When I was nearing the end of a job tat had become so oppressive I could no longer tolerate it, but before I had decided to make the break and start a private practice, I posted a sign over my desk in my office that said TINMFJ. It stood for a mantra a colleague had confided she would say to herself when she was at her wits' end: This Is Not My Forever Job. It really helped.

Virginia Gal said...

oh gosh, I am sorry to hear about this, when I was at non-descript airlines, we went through a lot of furloughs and everytime it hurt. I think there is a real trauma there, like the passing away of a person.

It is sad that your organization doesn't acknowledge that all these lay-offs induce grief and that they should be striving harder to help the remaining employees.

I am thinking of you.

mommanator said...

powerful post my friend! dont let the grief encompass you too mush!

Merci said...

Things are bizarre where I work, and they keep adding layers of responsibility with no thought for reality. I remind myself daily to do as much as I can from 9-5 then go home and forget the place. It's the only way for me to get through. Hope things start to improve for you soon.