First off, congrats to the new batch of Diarist.Net award nominees.
I found out about it today, and was relieved to know that I wouldn't have to arm wrestle anybody to defend my titles from last quarter. Turns out it's not a King of the Mountain game of determination and will that tests the ruthlessness and cunning in a set of bloodthirsty opponents.
Oh wait, it is. I'm thinking of basketball which isn't like that.
I was able to tell Pineapple Girl and Greg congrats in person since we had a little Austin journal writers gathering Sunday. It was hot, ya'll. It's one thing to be clever and witty in an air conditioned room with Max Payne to keep you entertained between entries.
It's a whole other thing to be sitting outside in 100 degree heat with only a berry smoothie to keep you from melting down into Calista Flockhart.
But I am going to propose that you have to arm wrestle me for those two from last quater.
This weekend, I found out a close friend was laid off from their dot-com job.
That makes maybe a dozen people in the last six months I've known personally who've been given one sort of ax or other.
Our newspaper has written an awful lot about people who've lost their jobs and who now wander, like little Dickensian orphans outfitted with Palm Pilots, through the streets of Austin in their ripped khakis and now-ironically cheery corporate logo T-shirts, looking for some meaning to their suddenly cataclysmically failed lives.
Most of the people I know, at least, seem to be taking layoffhood very well. Some are taking trips to New York or reading all the books they wanted to catch up on since college.
It sounds like a summer vacation.
But nothing's been written about the friends of those who've been laid off.
For the rest of us, those who have somehow managed to keep our jobs and avoid reorganization ("We're moving your ass to Utah"), replacement ("The Utah team is going to take over those chairs you're sitting in. So move your asses!") or flat out layoffs ("You've heard of Utah, right? You might want to start looking for a job there. Because your ass is fired here in Texas!") this can also be a trying time.
Oh not as trying as actually having been laid off and having to look at your cobwebby old Wordperfect-format résumé, trying to remember what you've done since shift managing at Jack in the Box in 1992.
But still. If you have lots of friends you've been laid off, you're expected to be sympathetic. (Easy.) You're expected to pay for lunch and buy the first round of beers. (Still easy, but mildly troubling.) You're expected to help your friend pay for a flight to interview for a job in Raleigh even though that effectively means they'll move away and you probably won't ever see them again. (Moderately worrisome.) You're expected to pass on leads for jobs and freelance projects that you might have otherwise considered for yourself were you slightly less generous. (If you're an asshole, this can be a really tough one.)
You're also expected to say the right things.
Correct things to say to newly laid off friends:
"Dude... DUDE! Shit. That fucking sucks."
"Bastards. You're way better off. Don't even look back."
"The economy. Friggin' economy. It's hurting all of us." (Note, this last part has to be said with a straight face to work.)
Hey if you need a place to crash, you know, I hear (insert mutual married couple friends who own a house) have a nice spare room.
"You'll get a job in no time. I mean, you've got skills."
"Put your purse away. I've got the first round of drinks."
Incorrect things to say:
you have a gun? You should totally go back to the office
"Can you spot me a ten?"
sucks. Oh, hey, I'm flying to New York to do some
"You had a job?"
"Don't tell your wife. She'll totally leave you."
know of an opening... um, how do you feel about drugs?
you and your Internet economy hubris right.
I keep wondering how my friends can stay so calm during this time. They still go to movies. They still have time to have lunch and check their e-mail and be friendly to strangers instead of stealing their wallets.
I admire them. They're handling Major Life Change with class and strength. Me, I'd be at home crying into my mama's lap.
I've never been good at dealing with massive life change of the bad sort (although I can adapt like a damn chameleon to good news). It's all left me worried lately because it always could happen. You're driving along on the road of life and are suddenly sideswiped by a carload of middle managers, thrust toward the creakly guardrail.
I want my friends to drive safely.
I want them to get home okay.
"No, Sheila, it's just that I'm amazed your hair is like that before the car has started moving."