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My 37-year career in corporate America came to an abrupt halt in June, thanks to Bain & Company's brilliant management consulting advice. Their MBA whiz-kids advised my employer that, due to continued underperformance of the company and their stock, they should toss a few hundred more employees into the volcano. Nothing personal; just business.

Since then, I've launched my own business to continue serving some of my customers, an option available to me only thanks to my husband's good job and benefits. I got through the summer on severance pay, some part-time work, and unemployment. A quick review of my tax returns and contributions to Social Security and Medicare would vindicate me: I've put a whole lot more into the "system" than I've taken out. So if Mitt wants to give me any sh*t about mooching off the government, he can kiss my ass.

After a few months away from the daily insanity of corporate life, I've noticed some interesting and unexpected changes in my outlook, my health, and my mental acuity. When you work at a company where layoffs are constantly looming, you develop a siege mentality. Everyday, it's either going to be you, or someone you know. The angst is palpable. A lot of your mental energy goes into psyching yourself up every day.

Concurrently, there's an expectation - spoken or unspoken - that you'd better pick up the pace. When your annual performance review notes that you're fortunate just to have a job, you know that employee engagement is no longer in play (colorful and upbeat corporate e-mails notwithstanding). Your continued employment is only a temporary reprieve. The Grim Reaper is just busy studying other cells on the Spreadsheet of Life. Your cell will come up soon. You'd better be ready.

Stress manifests itself in lots of ways. Poor sleep. Inability to focus. Snapping at well-meaning friends and family who ask how things are going. Headaches. Muscle stiffness. Depression. Anger. Fear. Once this becomes your "default state", you don't think about it. When all your colleagues are dealing with these same pressures, it starts to look "normal".

Getting laid off, even if you see it coming, takes a huge toll on a person. It's not so much the fact that you're separated from your company, your job, and your career (and for many of us, our identity as a person). It's the fact that it happens so suddenly. You drive to the office one day, and within hours, you're doing the Walk of Shame out to the parking garage with a couple of boxes, all that's left to show you even existed.

Once you've solved the immediate problems (informing your family, getting a new computer, phone, getting in touch with coworkers or customers, appying for unemployment, making sure you've got medical coverage, etc.), you need to get moving on finding - or creating - a new job. That process will evoke every emotional response from despair to euphoria, with the middle of the bell curve filled with the day-to-day grind of carrying out your quest.

When your destiny becomes clear, and you settle into a new reality, something interesting happens. In my case, I noticed some significant physical and emotional changes. I was sleeping longer and better (maybe because I didn't have to get up at 5:15 in the morning to beat the traffic). I wasn't suffering headaches or muscle tension. I felt a sense of excitement and optimism. Without altering my low-carb eating regimen, it was easier to lose weight. I felt more energetic.

Most remarkably, my short-term memory improved. Having watched my brilliant father - an engineer, musicologist, and all-around Renaissance man - sink into the physical and cognitive death spiral of Alzheimer's, I worry every time I'm unable to recall some detail: someone's name, the three items I needed at the grocery store, some fact that I knew that I knew. Now, three and a half months after my layoff, my mind is as sharp as it was years ago. I don't harbor any delusions that I'm staving off the possibility of future dementia, but the change is amazing.

So it has me wondering: what goes on in the workplace that degrades the very capabilities that we need to be effective? Beyond the fear about layoffs, what other  phenomena conspire to wear us down, break our spirit, and deplete our abilities?

One is the trend away from offices and towards cubicle farms. I had to share an office, albeit with a great colleague. Neither of us could get much done, since we both spent much of our time on the phone or in discussions with others in the office. The folks in Cubicle Hell had it much worse. Trying to block out sights and sounds  (and microwave aromas) and disruptions all day, with commutes through city traffic at each end of the work day, demands great focus.

E-mails popping up all day long - many of them from "corporate" and various departments, reminding you of the dire consequences of failure to fill out some form, complete some certification, sign up for some training, or otherwise do something other than your job - are another mental challenge.

Multitasking one's way through every day puts the mind through its paces. Multitasking will eventually be found to be the largest productivity drain. Doing things concurrently - and poorly - doesn't provide any sustaining satisfaction. By the end of the day, we wonder why we're so exhausted, and why so much of our "to do" list remains undone.

Many jobs are largely reactive. Sure, you may have a schedule of work to complete, but when anything changes - someone's out of the office, a customer needs something unanticipated - your schedule goes out the window (or if you're in a windowless office or cubicle, into the shredder).

Mastery and control, essential to our sense of self, are the first casualties in the workplace. When your best and highest aspiration is "not getting laid off", you've ceded control to people who clearly do not care what happens to you.

The irony is that the very capabilities that would make you a great employee - intelligence, problem-solving abilities, innovation, and focus - are the very things that corporate life takes from you. You may retain your integrity, but if you're in a corporation where ethical malfeasance runs rampant, your stress levels will increase, big time.

The good news is that most of these problems appear reversable. In my case, it's been a delight to reclaim my sanity... well, some of it. I still want to keep my snarky side intact so I can keep writing here ;-)

8:29 AM PT: Thanks for getting this onto the rec list! I've said it before and I'll say it again: I've got the most intelligent, insightful, compassionate, resourceful, and good-looking commenters on Daily Kos. We're all in this tough economy together. Your observations and suggestions will help us prevail over the witless corporate overlords who'd prefer that we just shut up and trudge back to our cubicles. From what I'm seeing in these comments, you folks are way too smart for that. Good luck to all, and thanks again!

Originally posted to cassandracarolina's fossil record on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 05:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by Retail and Workplace Pragmatists - Members and Editors.

Poll

What's the biggest problem in the corporate workplace?

9%25 votes
16%43 votes
22%60 votes
2%7 votes
34%92 votes
2%6 votes
6%16 votes
3%9 votes
2%6 votes

| 264 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (206+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Remediator, twigg, DRo, Diana in NoVa, politik, Texdude50, Phoebe Loosinhouse, exterris, penguins4peace, Lily O Lady, blue armadillo, gloriana, boadicea, pioneer111, palantir, entrelac, Zwoof, TriangleNC, Lovo, myeye, TX Unmuzzled, northsylvania, DuzT, litoralis, Its a New Day, Andrew F Cockburn, Habitat Vic, srkp23, psnyder, offred, etbnc, Omir the Storyteller, chloris creator, MKSinSA, Eric Twocents, Nina Katarina, native, nancelot, coppercelt, SeaTurtle, loretta, Alice Venturi, bwintx, dolfin66, sawgrass727, Sylv, annrose, AnnetteK, Gowrie Gal, Torta, Polly Syllabic, Clyde the Cat, zerelda, geordie, cybersaur, marleycat, Only Needs a Beat, el dorado gal, KnotIookin, KHKS, Dartagnan, tgypsy, kharma, susanWAstate, statsone, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, weck, RabidNation, DianeNYS, DixieDishrag, Blue Intrigue, Timaeus, Showman, Proud Mom and Grandma, northerntier, Melanie in IA, karmsy, davehouck, Wee Mama, mconvente, jared the bassplayer, elengul, Cronesense, litigatormom, NoVAVoter, blueoasis, parse this, dmhlt 66, remembrance, RainyDay, brae70, JKTownsend, OhioNatureMom, SaraBeth, Wisper, livingthedream, Loudoun County Dem, TokenLiberal, roses, kitchen table activist, Siri, science nerd, Lib in OR, FlyingToaster, sanglug, hopesprings, Ekaterin, commonmass, ridemybike, xaxnar, Boris49, wonmug, MT Spaces, sea note, Matt Z, Bule Betawi, democracy inaction, Ed in Montana, lilsky, basquebob, petulans, 2thanks, dtruth, Marihilda, bleeding blue, zitherhamster, Deep Texan, alrdouglas, yoduuuh do or do not, MKinTN, fhcec, cama2008, MooseHB, shesaid, OleHippieChick, farmerchuck, PBen, hopeful, old wobbly, CocoaLove, greenbell, Steveningen, madgranny, Lorikeet, kathny, marina, thomask, envwq, camlbacker, LoreleiHI, Marjmar, pimutant, golem, cpresley, Aunt Pat, DrLori, Bluehawk, Ginny in CO, oceanrain, shortgirl, markdd, Involuntary Exile, TruthFreedomKindness, HoosierDeb, greengemini, Brian B, ozsea1, HCKAD, shaggies2009, Onomastic, My Spin, Emerson, tofumagoo, Pluto, Arahahex, fumie, Prospect Park, Liberal Protestant, page394, LucyandByron, bibble, Mnemosyne, jaybomb81, ferg, one of 8, jolux, cotterperson, hungrycoyote, uciguy30, asterkitty, Libby Shaw, doingbusinessas, Carol in San Antonio, Belle Ame, skybluewater, Louisiana 1976, Yo Bubba, emidesu, SeekCa, nomandates, rage, WI Deadhead, Larsstephens, cany, redlum jak, llywrch

    Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

    by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 05:45:04 AM PDT

  •  Everything in that poll would (44+ / 0-)

    make a pretty good vote -- it's almost an entire culture all to itself.  

    Your diaries on this site enhance others' experience when they come here.  

    It's too damn bad for Mitt Romney that he never ran into your model of worker.  It would have put him in far better stay than whoever it was he got instead.

    Love the writing.  Don't stop.

    •  Thank you, Remediator (20+ / 0-)

      for your kind thoughts. Who knows how many people Mitt and his minions have eliminated from their jobs, careers, livelihoods, and identities. To him, it's just an equation. To the people involved, it could be a matter of life and death. We can now see that he simply does not care. It's just business.

      Any ideas for future topics in this series? I'm happy to keep writing, but want to keep it fresh and relevant.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:07:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You aren't in any danger of (18+ / 0-)

        not being fresh and relevant.

        People who can make great sentences (and great limericks!) can take the most ordinary subject and make it immediate and compelling.  When the ordinary is deified we're all beneficiaries.

      •  cc, great diary, tx for time and effort (29+ / 0-)

        you know what I have always wondered about is how since St. Ronnie, the corporate ethos has now threatened to become the American ethos.  Before, it was a PART of American life, now it threatens to DEFINE American life.

        I was reminded of this, this week in a conversation with an exhausted doctor friend of mine; how hospitals and medicine used to be focused on healing.  Then they were taken over by companies  that push for profit.  This demand 'for profit' model is literally making the people who work for it sick.  Medicine cannot be run as a for profit business; it goes against its basic tenets and ways of healing.

        So our healers are forced to be corporate hamsters who run faster and faster to increase shareholder profits.  All the intangibles in medicine are being trashed: bedside manner, complex diagnosis, appreciation of the human as a wholistic organism, etc, in favor of viewing people as machines (both patients and caregivers.)  To fix a problem take this pill or treatment.  Done.  Well that is not medicine, because we are far more complex than that.

        Anyway, sounds like you might be losing weight now, because you do are not suffering such adrenal stress, which can inhibiit weight loss?

        And I am convinced that as the corporate way of life takes over the American way of life, Americans are getting sicker and sicker in mind, body and soul.

        I really hope you keep writing.  You have so much to offer.

        It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. ~~Joseph Stalin

        by SeaTurtle on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 07:05:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks, SeaTurtle (20+ / 0-)

          You are right. The hamster wheel of corporate life is making many people sick and depressed, driving them to desperation. Self medication isn't a lasting fix, but the pharmaceutical industry is all too happy to profit from our misery (along with the alcohol industry).

          One reason that the rat race persists is the bad economy. I know many folks who loathe their jobs but stay for the medical benefits and fear (induced by management) that they'll never make it elsewhere.

          If things pick up and employers have to compete to hire and retain good people, conditions might improve. Until then, many in corporate America will be suffering.

          Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

          by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 07:12:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Cassandra and Sea Turtle, YES YES YES! (6+ / 0-)

          The multiple ways corporations have created stress in the work place, and spilling over in our lives, is adding to the health problems Americans face so much I want to revise the CDC leading causes of death in America:

          1)  Excess stress from too little leisure time, too little social interaction with family and friends, too much anxiety about financial security, health and health care, too little focus in our culture on stress reduction habits.

          2) Excessive demands at work that make jobs more difficult and less satisfying. From environmental working conditions to working harder on oversimplified tasks (checking the boxes) for longer hours, instead of working smarter. Job duties being expanded due to laid off workers, requiring many to take work home after working through lunch and starting/ending early and/or late. This decreases time for stress reduction (even just unwinding), regular exercise, time for healthy food preparation and eating in a normal human social setting (family or friends without TV/computer).

          3) US medical care or lack of access to it. The former was actually # 3 in the 2009 stats. Stress management and causation of specific diagnosis is not given the attention it merits. When the Mediterranean diet was given the gold standard for healthy eating to prevent chronic and deadly diseases, my observation (as a cardiac nurse) was half of the benefit was from the Mediterranean lifestyle. Food is not consumed on the run. Especially back then, the lifestyle was not controlled by work, money, possessions, etc. They have a lower stress level with more built in stress reduction to their culture. Same with Asian diets and culture.

          The mental, emotional and physical damage from sustained stress is widely understood, yet it cripples the ability to maintain the habits that control it and we don't have the cultural rituals and traditions that promote it. Sustained stress experienced from poverty is the biggest barrier to getting out of it.

          Cassandra I got to the point this last year that my brain would not function trying to fill out forms, remember words, or do math on anxiety stimulating job and assistance forms. I would come read a diary here and comment for a mental break to unfreeze it. Without the anxiety, on subjects I knew, my brain would work. It's now my alternative to boring puzzles or word games.

          The first solid experience I had with the corporate attitude towards employees versus building the profits of their business, was in '93 working as a worker's comp case management nurse. I had read a weekly magazine article on the success of FedEx and the guy whose brilliant management had accomplished it. What I learned from my caseload was he had done it on the backs of the employees, whose working conditions in the ware houses, planes and trucks were the primary cause of their back, neck and joint injuries.

          It has since become more obvious even if technically safer by OSHA requirements. The call center supervisor who stopped employees from trying to revive a woman slumped at her desk until the paramedics arrived was the fully exposed soul of corporate disregard for human labor in our country.

          My suggestion for a follow up is to set up conceptually, with some examples, stress management ideas. Then let  Kossacks add their ideas and practices.

          Thank you for listening to your body and putting this into words.

          "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

          by Ginny in CO on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 11:43:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wow, Ginny in CO, you have seen the dark side (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ginny in CO, SeaTurtle, cotterperson

            indeed. There are many pressures in the corporate world that result in under-reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses because managers are incentivized to keep the numbers low to get their bonuses. There is also backlash against folks who report legitimate injuries and repetitive motion problems. When folks postpone necessary medical care, these problems can wind up as workplace fatalities. It might appear non-work-related (stroke, heart attack) but the contributing factors are definitely work related.

            Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

            by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 11:49:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Even when it just sloppy, as happened to me, (4+ / 0-)

              an injury can be the domino for a person ~ 50 to start with a diagnosis that causes a lot of stress (pain, immobility, loss of a job and/or decreased pay).

              When it goes on long enough, more stress illnesses erupt and often interfere with getting control of any of them.

              Even those who are getting medical care can end up too debilitated to work, increasing the SSDI roles.

              Yeah, workers comp is an ugly job in a variety of ways. One of the things I think universal health care should do is eliminate worker's comp medical care. Just keep it to wage if that is needed.  Takes out a lot of the adversarial medical care and the employers expense. OSHA can be beefed up enough to require more work place inspections and enforcement of rules with fines if there are too many injuries that cost a lot of $ to the health ins program.

              "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

              by Ginny in CO on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 12:41:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  that's the way I understand it, GC (3+ / 0-)
                When it goes on long enough, more stress illnesses erupt and often interfere with getting control of any of them.
                health is a balanced web; when you throw one part of it out of alignment, then a domino effect eventually takes place.... and then you are in big doo-doo.

                I too am hugely convinced that our skills in managing Stress and our knowledge of our bodies and minds and spirit is the core of our health and happiness.

                So, I try to listen to and learn about my body's, mind's and spirit's needs and am in the process of learning about ways that work for me in managing stress, etc.

                How medical personnel in hospitals are treated is outrageous!  And so many are team members who just keep on soldiering on, trying to achieve the unrealistic robotic goals.  It is criminal.

                And don't get me started on how the insurance companies are like a black hole for all medical service providers.

                Take care of yourself, Ginny!

                It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. ~~Joseph Stalin

                by SeaTurtle on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 12:57:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The web imbalance is further disrupted (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  SeaTurtle, cassandracarolina

                  by our fragmented, non holistic, non person centered 'health' care system. My skin is one of the systems affected by my stress. Dermatologist diagnosed a stress disease, prescribed a steroid cream although she knew I was also referred to an endocrinologist for hormone evaluation. He didn't stop it when I did see him.  

                  Heh, I just got  my Medicaid card about 2 weeks ago and for the first time in 3.75 years I can make an appointment that will only cost me a few dollars and should cover all the tests, meds, and even glucometer strips! .... And I'm scared the doc is going to have a problem with the whole bunch (8) of diagnoses that I've had minimal supervision of, and symptoms that need to be evaluated for new ones.

                  I also have to avoid discussing treatment of heath care workers, and insurance companies, and Hillary. Think I will go listen to the meditation CD again. ;)

                  "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

                  by Ginny in CO on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 01:58:04 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Grocery items (5+ / 0-)
        I worry every time I'm unable to recall some detail: someone's name, the three items I needed at the grocery store
        I use Grocery IQ as my shopping list. You can arrange the order of the aisles in the app to match your local grocery store so as you do your shopping, the items you need tend to be at the top of the list for the aisle you're on. Since we almost always have our phones close by, any time you need to add something to your shopping list, it's as easy as picking up the phone! You can scan in the bar codes for your favorite items then just press a couple of buttons to add them to the list as you need them! I find the app immmensely helpful and it most certainly keeps me from forgetting items when I go to the store.

        --- Keep Christian mythology out of science class!

        by cybersaur on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 07:22:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Poll Results Need To Be... (7+ / 0-)

      ...summarized in a TPS report.

      I'll need that by Friday.

      1. Corporations control our democracy and do not have our interests at heart;
      2. The media is not neutral -- and not blameless;
      3. Ordinary people have extraordinary power.

      by MooseHB on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 09:42:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  OMG, how you have totally nailed this (38+ / 0-)

    The whole diary is praiseworthy but this especially struck a chord:

    The folks in Cubicle Hell had it much worse. Trying to block out sights and sounds  (and microwave aromas) and disruptions all day, with commutes through city traffic at each end of the work day, demands great focus.
    This was one of the things I loathed the most about working.  Over time, the corporate world moved away from two people sharing an office to the aforementioned "cubicle hell." I hated the gray walls, the gray desk, the gray carpeting.  Although I had a cube to myself, I could still hear all the distractions.  A window through which I could have looked at the sky would have been a welcome distraction.  I hated being up so high that the cars, trees, and people below looked like Matchbox toys.  Hated the lack of sunlight and fresh air, never knowing--on a busy day--whether it was snowing or raining or a beautiful day.

    I also hated the way the mirrors in the restroom were lighted in such a way as to make me and every other woman look like ghouls. The message seemed to be:  "Ya better be glad ya got a job at all, bitch, who else would hire anyone like YOU?"

    You're right, leaving the corpse-or-it world does bring back sanity.  Write on!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 05:59:45 AM PDT

    •  Nice to see you, Diana in NoVa~ (21+ / 0-)

      I hadn't thought about the fluorescent lighting in the restrooms, but you're right.

      I had the good fortune to have visited some of my company's offices across the US and overseas; many had the same life-sucking layout and decor, but oddly enough, some were just gorgeous, with colorful artwork, beautifully etched glass partitions, lush green plants, and rich wood paneling. Such surroundings immediately made me feel better!

      Whoever designs the gray cubicles with thos hanging bookshelves looming over the workers should spend eternity in just that sort of setting.... with an office neighbor who listens to annoying music, microwaves leftover fish tacos for lunch, and talks on the phone all day.

      Just sayin'...

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:12:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rolling Stone.... (13+ / 0-)

        Have you all read the Matt Taibbi piece in last week's Rolling Stone.  Never mind that it tells us how Romney "operated" in the Bain environment, but it also described how they did it, a la Gordon Gecko.  Amazing.

        As a former industrial engineer (23 years) you have all my sympathy and congratulations.  ABC, LLC has lost any attraction for most people as career choices.  That in itself may not be so bad, but he penny squeezers are making the working environments harder and harder for people.  

        The managers I worked for hated OSHA and almost every time I tried to get them to employ some ergonomics - even showing how increased productivity would pay for the enhancements - I was shown the door.  When the shit hit the fan and workers had to endure the pain of carpal tunnels syndrome and other maladies - at great cost to the company - the management would blame the designers and the industrial engineers for not doing their jobs to prevent them.  

        You know this.  The anecdotes are meant to reinforce your new life.  LOL.

        "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

        by dolfin66 on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 07:06:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bad ergonomics are part of the "plan", it seems (14+ / 0-)

          In an office environment, all manner of ailments arise from sitting at computers all day. Eyestrain and muscle strain, carpal tunnel, cortisol-fueled obesity, high blood pressure, cardiac stress all come with the territory and seem to be considered "acceptable". Sure, you have to fill out your "wellness" assessment to keep your benefits - just tell us everything that's ailing you so we can see about dropping you from the insurance coverage.

          My employer had thousands of people in the field, at client job sites, on military bases, on construction projects, but many of the OSHA recordable injuries happened in the office. Of these office injuries, many came during office moves and consolidations: folks are stressed out, trying to pack up their lives, moving heavy boxes, contorting themselves. All so that the company could continue to reduce everyone's allocated square footage and squeeze out another dollar in profits.

          Thanks for your all-too-true observations.

          Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

          by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 07:19:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah been there done that (16+ / 0-)

      It was horrible - truly awful. Especially the cubicles and you are right the lighting made you feel worse. I hated arriving in the dark and leaving in the dark during winter.

      One job had me so traumatized that I still tense when I hear that particular ringtone on phones. And this is 16 years later! I was so stupid that I ignored all the signs that this would be a job from hell - I joked that if I had had 2 heads they would have offered me 2 jobs or that the only thing different from a factory job is that we didn't get issued sewing machines. I did all this because I thought we needed the money. Sad.

      I like this dairy series but it also reminds me of all the misery there is in the workplace. I hope that all those people trapped in this place find happiness - I really don't think they will find it there.

      I quit my last job and retired early. Made some financial choices and am living a garden life now and do not like to look back. I did what I thought I had to and it probably made my current life possible. But I wasted many years.....

      "The Republican argument against the President’s re-election was pretty simple: we left him a total mess, he hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in." - President Bill Clinton

      by redstella on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:53:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That "be glad you have a job" canard pisses me off (14+ / 0-)

      Whenever I hear it I want to say "No, you should be glad you have an employee as competent, focused and dedicated as me.  You should be glad I come here every day despite the humiliations large and small and the constant disrespect I'm subject to.  You should be glad you don't actually have to do my job because you wouldn't last one week."
      'course I never say that.

      I can see Canada from my house. No, really, I can.

      by DuzT on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 07:34:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  At first I had my suspicions about this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandracarolina

      since I've worked in cubicle hell for much of the last 15-20 years. (Except for that one year I was learning too much about what it was like to be unemployed.)

      Then I realized an interesting trend about my latest gig: just how few people are actually present in their cubicles any more. At my current job (identity omitted for understandable reasons), most people telecommute. Or work in the cafeteria. Or in one of the courtyards, weather permitting. Or are away in a conference room at a meeting.

      Another datum, FWIW. About 3 years ago, the PTB at the business I work for as a contractor decided they were behind the curve in workplace environments, so they adopted the latest fads in cubicle design -- namely low-wall cubicles, with the intent to facilitate information sharing between co-workers. The other day I walked through the building where these new cubicles had been deployed: most of the walls had been extended to at least the common 5-foot heights, & floor-to-ceiling glass walls installed along the aisles with heavy traffic to reduce traffic noise. (No one I have talked to likes cubicles with low walls -- except for interior designers who have never worked in them.)
       

      •  Good points, llywrch (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        llywrch

        Now that I think of it, there were a lot of employees out in the courtyard working at the picnic tables in good weather, or making their phone calls outdoors. They also tried to get around the low-height cubicle issue by dragging in tall bookcases or building up their walls with Foam-core mounted maps and other office debris.

        I think that the designers like this because it's probably cheaper in terms of HVAC and lighting costs. Those savings are eclipsed by the loss of productivity, but the MBA whiz kids don't care about that, I guess.

        Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

        by cassandracarolina on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 01:39:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wouldn't blame the MBAs for this one (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cassandracarolina

          It's one of those intellectual fads that everyone in a those trades which depend heavily on creativity embraces, wanting to be "up-to-fate" yet not taking the time to think the issue through.

          Some 20 years ago, I worked at a consulting engineering firm that had an architectural department, & one of the people in that department had the job of designing the interior of office spaces. I remember how she once gushed about designing  cubicles with the lower walls to facilitate informal collaboration. (Even then, I wondered about how distracting the noise would be.) And I've heard other professionals, with degrees in architecture & bona fide certifications, gush on about how wonderful it was to facilitate informal collaboration thru the same methods of design.

          Now it's one thing to have an office with no barriers and a small group of people all working on the same project; there people do find the lack of barriers useful, because they often have questions & the person with the answer is just over there. But put the same number of people working on many different projects in the same space, & they will want partitions as tall & as thick as possible. And even architects, once they have experienced this, will come to understand this is just another fad.

  •  I know what you mean (18+ / 0-)

    I worked in a corporate office at a TBTF bank. It wasn't until after I left - and spent six weeks in Florida with friends - that I realized just how bad that job was for me all around. Corporate life SUCKS. It is a bunker mentality.

    The irony is that the very capabilities that would make you a great employee - intelligence, problem-solving abilities, innovation, and focus - are the very things that corporate life takes from you.
    That is so true! And after running into walls you stop caring.

    Good luck!

    The Spice must Flow!

    by Texdude50 on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 05:59:49 AM PDT

    •  Yes, Texdude50, it's depressing in retrospect (11+ / 0-)

      to see how much of my angst and unhappiness was seeping into me at work. I keep in touch with some folks there, and it's gotten worse, as if that's even imaginable.

      I was working in an office that had decent enough space, but they planed to move further into the city and have a cubicle-intensive new floor plan that would have been  nightmare (in addition to a longer commute for about 90% of the people). It's all about square footage.

      Why not just let people telecommute? That way their office space would be zero square feet. Oh, yeah... I know why. We can't be trusted without the omnipresent micromanager lurking around.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:16:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I voted short-term focus (28+ / 0-)

    I don't know how many times I've seen companies make decisions that will pay short-term dividends but be bad for the company in the long run, and they know it, but they don't care because they and their shareholders know that they won't be around for the long haul. If the company dies in ten years that's fine with them because they will have moved on to the next company or have sold their shares.

    I now work for a mid-level company - one of the larger grocers in California - but it is owned by one guy. No shareholders. The one guy already has a helicopter and more riches than he will ever spend. But, unlike most of the 1%-ers, he's fine with having what he has and has removed "profit" as a goal in our company. All the profits that the company makes (and it's in the billions) goes back into the company into store improvements and employee salaries and benefits.

    Having seen it from both sides, I'm firmly convinced that the greatest evil in our country is the existence of the stock market.

    I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies. - Kos

    My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

    by pucklady on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:04:31 AM PDT

    •  The only upside to this short-term focus (11+ / 0-)

      is that after my boss laid me off, she herself was demoted. Many of the dutiful managers who lay off their people find themselves next in line. They must wonder: "Hey! I did everything I was supposed to do! Why is this happening to me?"

      Sounds like your employer has the right idea. There are quite a few studies that demonstrate that treating employees well will lead to greater profitability. Of course, that's long-term profitability... you might have to wait a few quarters to see the results. From then, it's a sustainable business model.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:20:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This! (11+ / 0-)
        Hey! I did everything I was supposed to do!  Why is this happening to me?
        May very well be at the root of all the symptoms you have described.
        My job at a giant communications company is a lot different than the cubicle life but we have the same unreasonable corporate expectations to live up to and I've noticed the same things: headaches, memory problems, irritability etc..
        Seems no matter what we do, no matter how much harder we work, it's never good enough.

        I can see Canada from my house. No, really, I can.

        by DuzT on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:37:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I was also "rightsized" out of my corporate-world (17+ / 0-)

    job although I was at an entry level (a drone for a major, major corporation) and now I am going the self-employed route.

    It's scary since I've never really though of myself as entrepeneureal but it is amazing what you learn about yourself when the going gets tough.

    Good luck to you...I hope you'll be successful and happy.

    The folks I see at professional gatherings for my new position are some of the happiest I have ever seen in the business world. Everyone at my old job was stressed and always looking over their shoulder for the grim reaper.

    I was actually feeling pretty good about my job and did not see the layoff coming.

    But it's actually been a good thing I believe..

    It does feel so different to be working for me, not "The Corporation"...especially when the happy happy news every year was about the great profits and bonuses the upper management got while at our level, the pay was relatively poor and the hours sucked...and every second had to be accounted for. Every single second.

    ugh.

    Glad to be more free...now I need to be making some money because that's the stuff that keeps a roof over my head and food on the table.

    "one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress" -- John Adams

    by blue armadillo on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:05:16 AM PDT

    •  Good luck, blue armadillo (6+ / 0-)

      You're in great "company" among those of us out on our own. We're capable of all the same achievements as before, and probably more, since we are now unshackled from the cinderblocks of negativity that were chained to our ankles in the corporate world.

      I've been amazed at what I can do now that my mind is functioning properly once again, and my thoughts are not consumed with merely surviving!

      You will do fine!

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:23:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It seems that a fearful workforce is one (14+ / 0-)

    of the "benefits" for corporations of the way Bain and others do business. Workers are no more than interchangeable cogs to corporations while Citizens' United has elevated corporations into the role of people. Society has been turned on its head by the 1% which is just the way they like it.

    You, cassandracarolina, and all workers deserve better. And we all deserve better than his holiness, Mitt Romney.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:06:15 AM PDT

  •  I think there are two things that determine your (14+ / 0-)

    corporate experience.

    First and foremost is whether you work for carrots or sticks. Does your company believe in positive or negative re-enforcers? Do they make you feel like a valued cog in the big machine or are you simply an expendable widget who can be replaced at any time by another cheaper widget? Big big difference in corporate climate. And companies can pretend to be the first kind when they're really the second kind, but they're not fooling anyone.

    Second huge factor is your immediate co-workers. You can work for a great company and still be surrounded by mal-contents, drama queens, gossip mongers, corporate ladder climbers who stop at nothing, etc. One personality disorder can take down an entire office.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:10:27 AM PDT

    •  Yep (10+ / 0-)
      One personality disorder can take down an entire office.
      Dealing with that right now. I've got a middle manager who the company has outgrown but won't get rid of. Her current hobbies include psychological manipulation, incompetence, and blame shifting.

      She's very close to bringing the entire floor down in flames but nobody higher up seems interested in doing anything because "she's been here since the beginning". Whatever that means.

      •  Too bad she can't be promoted laterally (5+ / 0-)

        to a private office where she can write training manuals all day. Or perhaps she can become the roving company auditor of office supplies? Or convince the higher ups to send her to professional conference after professional conference  and then she has to do management presentations on what she has learned. Pot stirrers HATE being moved away from the pot.

        “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

        by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:35:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Mine (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cassandracarolina

        is similar.  Her hobbies are:  snooping; lying; micro-managing; cultivating her flavor-of-the-month employee who will soon be brutally cut down.

        No one does anything directly but they have given her every sign she is not wanted (it's a public agency so firing people isn't that easy) and she is completely clueless.  

        She thinks her reputation is "she gets stuff done" when it is "she is shrill and unreasonable and runs a department in chaos while bullying her staff".

        I hear it is not like this out in the real world.  I feel like the "real world" is in another dimension that I wouldn't recognize . . .

        Why is it that a 3% tax increase for the wealthy is considered "socialism" and an 8% wage cut for the middle class is "doing your part"? MartyM

        by delphine on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 01:11:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, Phoebe Loosinhouse, coworkers (6+ / 0-)

      make a huge difference. I have seen several situations in my corporate tenure where truly dysfunctional people dragged down entire departments. When management looks the other way at troublemakers, slackers, malcontents, harassers, and other disruptive people, it sends the message to the "good" hardworking people that it just doesn't matter. They can work hard, but it won't be rewarded. They can undermine the workforce all day, and that won't be punished.

      Early in my career, I shared an office with an overconfident slacker who spent all day on the phone with his friend and his bookie. I later found out that he was making more than I was for the exact same job function and level of experience. I confronted my boss, a nice young lady with no managerial skills, and all she could say about my office mate was, "yes, it's sad how some people take advantage of my trusting nature".

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:33:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yup, there's life after those e-mails (16+ / 0-)

    It's been just over 3 years since my employer relocated and I found myself freed from the the daily dose of corporate doublespeak that permeated every conversation, every e-mail and every employee newsletter.  It's hard to describe how liberating this has been; normal people don't behave the way corporate managers do, the threats, the distortions, the lack of  respect for co-workers was just so pervasive that it robbed an otherwise well designed organization of the very best employees had to offer.
    It would be hard to imagine that a more counter-productive design could have been possible even if that had been the goal.  I loved my job, I loved many of the people I worked with but the "world" that I worked in was not a healthy place.
    Good luck to you, the roses really do smell so good.

    •  You nailed it, MikeRinRI! (6+ / 0-)
      It would be hard to imagine that a more counter-productive design could have been possible even if that had been the goal.  
      I've thought that on many occasions. The irony is that corporations build so many impediments to accomplishment, then crack the whip on everyone to work "harder" or "smarter". It's like the Grinch cracking the whip on the little dog to pull the bloated, overloaded sled. Ain't happening.

      My employer kept adding more and more complex systems and processes that added no value, and caused endless wasted time and frustration. These impediments added more and more distance and difficulty between the employees and the customers.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:37:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This self-employed MBA non-whiz kid sympathizes (7+ / 0-)

    I left the corporate world 10 years ago after getting my MBA and wising up a bit. I'm grateful my "inner whiz-kid" realized Bain & Co, McKinsey, BCG are all a bunch of intellectual vapor-ware money-bots. And only intellectually bankrupt spineless management would ever hire these firms - except to excuse the dirty work they want to do because they're so damn clueless about how to work through problems without costing everyone a piece of their souls.

    I did global consulting before I went to business school. I vowed then that I would never as a manager hire a management consulting company, having seen what was going on from the inside. Nothing I saw from then on ever changed my mind.

    Work is always going to be some kind of struggle(s). But to some degree, blessed are those that have some say in choosing their struggles.

    •  TX Unmuzzled, you are so right (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DuzT, redstella, native, entrelac

      about those who hire management consultants:

      And only intellectually bankrupt spineless management would ever hire these firms - except to excuse the dirty work they want to do because they're so damn clueless about how to work through problems without costing everyone a piece of their souls.
      In my employer's case, they kept the same executive team in place throughout their major growth spurt, and I think that they felt like "Hey! We are now one of the 'big boys', and we can hire a big name management consulting firm to guide us". In reality, Bain & Company has made millions from the sheer gullibility of these execs. All the while, employee training was eliminated, thousands of good people were laid off, benefits were cut, and customers walked away as service was eroded.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:43:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i guess its totally weird to say you give me hope (15+ / 0-)

    in a desperate situation, like a layoff, perhaps its insulting to say that i wish i had the clarity that you are enjoying.  but i have noted with increasing regularity that working in corporate america, for a multi-national bohemoth, makes me complacent--totally risk averse, and just a shell of the person i once was.

    i remember when i came to my job--nearly 8 years ago as an energetic and confident 28 yo female project mgr--i looked at some of the corporate drones here (i called them "lifers") with pity and disdain.  and now i realize, they were not born this way.  they were created.  and each day i fear i am becoming one.

    when i came here, i didn't have my degree and i used it as an excuse not to move on.  i recently completed my degree, and now i use the poor economy and my son's school (he's a sophomore in high school) as a reason not to move on.

    i can't remember when i became so full of fear.  my most fervent wish it to move onto advocacy, green energy, social justice or some place where i can do good in the world.  but in the meantime, i'm a corporate shill.  a strategist for a multi-national with no clear strategy.  i don't want to wait 30 years to start over.

    please.  please continue to write for people like me.  we need to hear that stepping outside of corporate america is not the end--whether its the result of a layoff or voluntary.  i need to be told what i feel in my heart--which is--that this rat race isn't the answer and we can do better for ourselves.  somehow.  we just have to believe.

    thanks so much for your diary.  and do write again.

    •  quixotic, it's never too late to reinvent yourself (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quixotic, srkp23, NoVAVoter, HCKAD

      I'm 59, hardly the ideal age to be laid off. I would have retired from corporate life in a few years anyway, but I feel tremendously energized and renewed now that I am out of the penal colony of corporate life. Speaking with some of my former clients has been very uplifting. They remember the good work that I did for them years ago, and that I can do again.

      You are so right about the effects on not only your outlook but your behavior. You lose faith in yourself as you adopt the corporate mindset, and that further erodes your self-respect and sense of identity and value. However, it's entirely reversible, based on my own experience, at any rate. You can - and you must - reclaim yourself.

      Do not give up hope. There are employers that would welcome you, and if you were doing something that you believed in, you'd feel a lot better about yourself and your prospects.

      Hang in there, and let us know where your journey takes you!

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:49:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's the complacency, i believe, that kills ya (4+ / 0-)

        i keep putting things off, and putting things off--and why not?  i'm employed, with a good paying job that provides great benefits.  

        nevermind that it can be mind-numbing and frustrating and all the things that you described above.  nevermind that its not satisfying--AT ALL.  it pays the bills--so shut up, right?

        we have this mentality that we should feel lucky for ANYTHING and that's the state of labor in this country.  i mean my job is pretty good, i supported my son by myself in a decent middle class lifestyle before meeting my husband 4 years ago. his income eclipses mine, but i still provide his health insurance b/c his company provides terrible benefits.

        we're not conditioned to expect job satisfaction.  esp during this economy, and i fear we may never get that "luxury" back.

        and so i put off going back to school to get my masters--what's two more years?

        i put off getting involved with associations and networks that i'm interested in--because it conflicts with the extra-curicular activities at my son's school (again...just two more years)

        but mostly, you just put these things off because you start to lose confidence that you can work in a real functional organization doing valuable things.  because even though you're a high contributor where you are, where you are is such a messed up place and so counter-intuitive to where you want to be, crossing that gap into your ideal work situation seems like diving into an abyss.

        •  Complacency makes sense for a while (3+ / 0-)

          but think of how you'd feel looking back on it in ten years. Your son might learn an interesting object lesson from your example in taking charge of your destiny.

          When I was a toddler, my dad worked full time and went to night school four nights a week to get his engineering degree. Later, he and some colleagues launched their own small computer company that was bought out by a big corporation. He turned down a move out of state to work at their headquarters. It would have meant more money, but family came first, and my mom didn't want to move. (That didn't keep her from complaining later that he never made much money).

          I learned a lot from that. I've quite several jobs as a matter of principle without a job to go to. I've always landed on my feet, and the risks I've taken have paid off. As my tax accountant father-in-law said, "I'd rather sleep well than eat well".

          If you're a high contributor, you're probably wired for success. You deserve to be rewarded for your efforts, and you deserve to sleep well.

          Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

          by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:09:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  it's interesting (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cassandracarolina, entrelac
            I've quite several jobs as a matter of principle without a job to go to. I've always landed on my feet, and the risks I've taken have paid off.
            my job experience before landing here was a hodgepodge of various industries and assignments.  i had skipped around from project to project, up and down the east coast--with no regard to when one project might end and another may begin.

            it all worked out--as you said.  i had great skills and they always seemed to be in demand (enough so that i could survive).

            this as a single mom even.  i think of that often, and it's yet another reason i've come to barely recognize myself.  i am not sure what causes this change, but i can tell by the people around me, it's in the culture.  and i know i have to make a change.  

    •  You struck a chord with me (7+ / 0-)

      Posted my experience in the corporate world in another comment. But basically, I worked in IT and Document Design Departments of big, corporate law firms in NYC.

      i can't remember when i became so full of fear.  my most fervent wish it to move onto advocacy, green energy, social justice or some place where i can do good in the world.  but in the meantime, i'm a corporate shill.  a strategist for a multi-national with no clear strategy.  i don't want to wait 30 years to start over.
      That's the thing. When not at work, I was a poet/musician and activist, but I spent 40 hours a week working for the very corporations I was fighting against in the other part of my life. These law firms handled folks like Enron, big oil, multi-nationals, etc. What they did in the world went against every moral fiber in my being. It was so schizo to work for them during the work week, and have my other life at night and on weekends.

      I'm so happy to be a whole person again, free to just be me all day, everyday. That's one thing this bad economy has given me. The opportunity to NOT get another corporate job. And I do think that it's wonderful so many people are starting to do other self-employed type things, or are banding together in small groups to help each other and build small business.

      It's interesting that corporations have personhood, and that they try to cram humans into the robotic, stony personhood (laced with fear and illness) that represents the bizarro personhood of corporations. I'll take my humanity of money any day.

  •  Beautifully done. Spot on. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quixotic, srkp23, DuzT, cassandracarolina

    But don't you see now what a favor Bain did for you?!

    ;-)

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:37:13 AM PDT

  •  I kinda like cubicle world. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, srkp23

    I like collaborating with colleagues, since it enables me to leverage their areas of expertise.  If anything, an office makes me feel alienated and weird, and I miss a robust back and forth.  It could be that I work in tax, where we toss around arguments and try to arrive at reasonable positions to take, which is sorta inherently social.  I guess if I were, say, an accounts payable clerk or something that the marginal utility of discursive back-and-forth would be quite a lot less.

    re: annoying corporate emails: that's why god gave you autofilters.  It's not that bad if you just sit down for two seconds and consider how it can best be managed.  Or: just delete them and assume that anything really important will be brought to your attention later.

    •  I loved collaboration too, but most of mine (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster

      was electronic, with colleagues across the US and around the world. When busy people collaborate, they can really focus on making the most of their limited contact time. Great technical collaboration is one of the real joys of corporate life when it works well and isn't suppressed or impeded by management.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:53:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Deleting email wasn't possible (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandracarolina

      in my job.

      You had to read them, or you might not know where files you needed were, or what time meetings were, or who was requesting a rush job, etc. The email system was the main source of communicating.

      Cubicle life does have its social aspects. And I never wanted an office either. But the cubicles just have a certain robot-isolation aspect to them. I'd much prefer and open office, where you can look up and trade smiles with a co-worker. Also where the layout is more humane, not like grids.

  •  Wonderful post! Truth! (8+ / 0-)

    what you write about your former workplace--wel,l it's just a microcosm of hypercapitalism in general. We can free ourselves. We can occupy ourselves. We don't have to submit to the fear that the 1% tries to control us with. We can reclaim ourselves, our lives, our communities; we can rebuild the meaning that has been stolen from us and replaced with the driving force of the bottom line. It is scary to step outside of--even more so to be pushed outside of--the corporate box, but then we open our eyes and see there is a real world out there, a world of possibility, and we have the strength and the imagination and the compassion to free our minds from the dominant and domineering narratives that hypercapitalism has installed in us.

    There are moments when the body is as numinous as words, days that are the good flesh continuing. -- Robert Hass

    by srkp23 on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:44:26 AM PDT

    •  Wise words, srkp23... (0+ / 0-)

      There is a wonderful world outside of the corporate penal colony. After I recovered from the shock of being laid off, I immediately set up my own business, and am feeling better in every way, even without the certainty of a paycheck.

      It's like recovering from a long debilitating illness, and feeling well once again. Even if "well" is how I felt originally, now it seems euphoric!

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 07:00:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for sharing this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DuzT, quixotic, cassandracarolina, srkp23

    I hope you are still doing well!

    Many people don't realize that money only makes you happier when you don't have any.  After you reach a certain threshold, the returns from having more money diminish.  (Who do you think has a happier core?  Obama or Romney?)  

    However, it takes courage to realize this, and to walk away, because so much status is associated with that salary.

    Best of luck in your new life!

    www.tapestryofbronze.com

    by chloris creator on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:46:50 AM PDT

    •  Thanks, chloris creator (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chloris creator

      It's true: a good salary seemed to make up for a lot of the daily angst and emotional emptiness, but in retrospect, that was just another symptom of the disease.

      It took no courage for me to leave, since I was summarily laid off, which now turns out to have been a fortuitious event. At the time, it didn't look that way, though.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 07:02:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am also not working and know how you feel (4+ / 0-)

    I've been laid-off before and know how it feels.  Add to the mix my wife and I are moving to Ohio from Seattle and there isn't much software there; things are going to be difficult for me.  We are moving for her job and she has a good one that gives us benefits.

    I'm curious what do you do?  I am going to have to completely re-invent myself and what I do because, like I said, there aren't many software companies.  I do partner marketing/BDM/training for these types of companies.  

    I'm probably going to end up starting my own business....

    •  I think you'll have plenty of options (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fou, dogdad

      helping out the users of software, as you say:

      partner marketing/BDM/training for these types of companies
      One thing you might want to do if you haven't already will be setting up a profile on LinkedIn. I resisted this for years, but now that I am on my own, it's a great way to increase your visibility and make the connections that may land your next situation.

      Starting your own business is also an option, but many corporations and small businesses may need help on a contract basis, which would be a lot easier.

      Good luck. I moved from New England to Texas (ouch!) five years ago for my husband's job. It's not easy being a trailing spouse, but things have worked out well in the long run. Home is where the spouse is ;-)

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 07:07:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Corporate in U.S. compared to elsewhere (8+ / 0-)

    I wish your poll had "All the above"....  The horror stories I could share, but don't we all have them.   My most recent RIF occurred when I went on vacation and the CEO emailed, "Have a good one" but the day I returned, he told me my position was eliminated effectively immediately.  And he told me this at lunch in a public cafe.  And he actually wondered why I lost my appetite and couldn't finish my sandwich. How many ways can you spell clueless? (Here's one: R-O-M-N-E-Y)

    Anyway, as friend with long-term corporate experience and I discussed this topic, we noted that it was much more pleasant to deal with corporate people from other countries than in the U.S.  Mostly, they showed much less stress and anxiety.  They also showed more cooperation and better communication (more responsive).

    In my case, my company was a global entity and my peers in Europe and Australia had similar reporting structures and incentive programs, but they consistently had more sense of humor and were more pleasant than my US peers.  (Not sure what to say about Canada.  Had an awful experience with a Peter-Principle Canadian manager recently and my friend says that her experience with Canadians was par with U.S. corporate world.)

    I know that negative corporate politics exist everywhere, but wonder how much the differences we noted stemmed from cultural norms and perhaps even social "safety net" differences...e.g., No concern about health care coverage after job loss or transition.

    •  My colleagues in the UK when laid off (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      basquebob

      (or as they say over there "made redundant") got to use the office, the printers, the computers, and any resources they needed for weeks or months to help them in their job search. In the US? You're gone the same day, turn in your computer and BlackBerry and disappear.

      Part of this is employment laws and protections for workers in other countries. Here in the US, we have very few protections by comparison.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:13:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Corporate life (9+ / 0-)

    is so unnatural. I used to work in the IT departments and Document Design departments of big law firms in NYC.

    We'd always have to go to these "customer service" trainings. Basically, we were told to treat everyone -- the lawyers, their secretaries, people in the copy departments and other departments -- as our "customers". We were "schooled" on how to service them in timely manners, politeness, etc. However, though the lawyers were supposed to treat us with the same respect, they would never get written up if they didn't. My friend called it obedience training.

    Each law firm in NY had people in cubicles (not the lawyers), piled on floors and skyscrapers. It felt to me like chickens stacked in cages. The whole corporate culture was so unnatural. Sitting in fluorescent light, many people drinking tons of coffee all day, the atmosphere charged with stress.

    And they'd work the poor young associate lawyers to death. Even had showers so the young lawyers could pull their frequent all-nighters and work the next day. What those kids had to do to prove themselves. They were even afraid to stay home when they were sick.

    Often a cold or flu-ridden young lawyer would come into our department to get some documents worked on. Bags for days under their eyes. They'd be all red-eyed and laden with mucous, carrying soaked tissues and sniffling and sneezing, and they want to hand us their documents with all their flu germs on it.

    And some people who were "above you", would just be an a-hole, and no matter what you did, they'd have a complaint. Especially the lawyers being pressured by the more senior lawyers. They'd be working on billion dollar deals, and be in such a hurry for their 600-page documents (after they'd messed up all the formatting), and scream at you for not getting it done in 5 minutes. We used to say they had an I.D.10-T problem.

    Or they'd reorganize the department, then no one would know who was going to get the shaft.

    I left that world a few years after 9/11. Things really got worse after that. The air for months was putrid. Lawyers, secretaries getting horrible respiratory conditions, or their asthma getting worse. Lots of anxiety and depression among the workers who were there that day (as I was-worked three blocks from ground zero).

    Now I work from home, doing writing gigs, and it's such a joy. To be my own boss, to not rush to get to work, to have a leisurely lunch, or talk a walk when I feel like it. To sit on the deck in the sun and sip my coffee and enjoy the sky. Love it.

    Best of all, to not have to put some dorky, corporate outfit together. Hate the clothes I had to wear. Always felt like I was in costume.

    I think the corporate world spawns nervous conditions, emotional problems, and those in turn spawn physical illness. There's so much gossip, back-stabbing, competition. It's no way for a human to live. Congratulations on getting free of that.

    •  sounds like hell millien (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandracarolina, MillieNeon

      sounds like a great escape.  i hope to find enough courage and plot my escape sooner than later.  its a tough thing.  i sometimes joke that i wish my company would fire me/lay me off and do me a favor.

      there's probably some truth to that.  it would beat having to explain to my husband why i quit my job :)

      but the other, more prevalent truth is, i don't want to cut back on the things i enjoy (my son's private school tuition is the main barrier today) in order to have the freedom to take the risks i would like.  (freelance/self-employment)

      so, as i said above...i'll just put that off...a couple more years (and then there will be college tuition to pay, and another excuse just beyond the horizon--right?  it's like a death sentence.)

      we do pay ahead on our mortgage so we can be free of that soon (no mortgage by 40, my son graduates high school when i'm 38), so these are all hopeful things.  perhaps its not too long before i "re-invent myself".

      •  I understand quixotic (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quixotic, entrelac

        And my situation is different. I'm single, and now live with sister/cousins in Chicago. Don't have children. Plus, I lived in a rent-stablized apartment in the East Village for years. Paid very little rent. And when a new landlord bought the building I lived in, he gave me a lot of money to give up my lease so he could rent it at market value. So that gave me an extra incentive to leave my job and NYC.

        It felt like the right time to make a move. And getting that payout made the move painless.

        And even in the midst of the corporate world, my zen teacher taught me that "freedom is an inside job". Often used my lunch hour to go outside and do little meditations or walking meditations to remember who I really am. Even in those corporate clothes.

        •  my biggest challenge right now (3+ / 0-)

          ...aside from preserving my sanity in my current work environment :)

          is trying to manage my husbands desires for a new house.  we're trying to get our current house paid for within 10 years of purchase, which is a pretty big deal for me.  i hate paying banks interest, particularly our bank (subsequently his employer)--which is one of the big three.

          he has a higher work satisfaction than i do--despite cuts to his benefit package in recent years during times of record profit.  i attribute this to competence in his management team (he works in IT) and good pay.

          so he's not as motivated as i am to "be out from under the man".  for me--having that freedom is paramount.  i don't want to be a slave to "the man" for the rest of my life.  i'm not happy with the potential of giving him the next 5-7 years.  but i don't want to voluntarily sign on to another 30 just to have a gourmet kitchen.

  •  Good diary. You're now in a much better (4+ / 0-)

    position!

    I quit my last of several corporate jobs more than 20 years ago and have since been self-employed.  I like to joke sometimes that I've been unemployed for decades.  

    I probably would have made a lot more money, had I physically survived, if I'd stayed downtown in the corporate world.  But I put a very high value on independence.

    Good luck with your business.

  •  I was not laid off. (3+ / 0-)

    I had job security and left of my own choice. However everything else you say applies just as well. And yes, it takes a while, but sanity and calm return. Thanks.

  •  I am on kind of an opposite path to C.C. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina

    I worked the first 25 years of my adult life in very non traditional jobs. I've been in all kinds of positions in the entertainment industry. Holding positions doing everything from back line roadie to production manager on rock tours. Then later on becoming a stage hand working through a Union Local. Eventually becoming president of that union local. The physical aspects of being a stage hand became too hard for me. I split that scene 12 years ago and went to work as a technician in a research and development center for a mega billion dollar multi national corporation. I see lots of miserable people who've fallen into the corporate mindset traps every day. I feel sorry for them. Scrambling to get ahead and kissing ass to any person above them on the organizational chart. I think they would call them "Yes Men". We had a different name for that when I worked in rock and roll. It was "Crawly Bum Lick". Working in  entertainment almost none of the jobs were permanent.
    I had a buddy who was fond of putting it this way. "I was looking for a job when I found this one. I can always find another one too."
    I would never go near any management  team around here. They all suck and can't get anything meaningful done. I have the attitude that all I want to be is a technician. The HR people say that is fine, they need good technicians. They pay me well for what I do. It's very low stress and in 4 more years I'll be out the door with my sanity still in tact. I'm glad you are now able to see where you were coming from. I'm sorry that you had to learn some hard lessons. I hope you have success and find true happiness with your new venture.

    •  You've figured it out! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbob, TruthFreedomKindness

      There's no more "leadership"; only "management". People poring over spreadsheets trying to figure out who gets laid off in the next round. The people placed in management roles are "yes" people: obedient, not too ambitious, not likely to rock the boat.

      You can't achieve anything stellar with that sort of a team in place.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:34:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary. (7+ / 0-)

    It really helped me this morning, dragging my ass back into work, three weeks after I was informed that my layoff was impending.
    "Don't start on any new projects, you're on the short list this time." I was told. The stress that puts on a person isn't fun, but reading your diary that life gets better helps me when I am right now waiting for the axe to drop.
    Thank you.
    -J

    Support your local musicians!

    by jared the bassplayer on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 07:54:04 AM PDT

    •  What a helluva thing to say to an employee. (3+ / 0-)

      Rather like the Doctor telling a patient not to buy any unripe bananas. Good luck - you may feel some relief once you're liberated from that situation, but I know the job hunt is tough. Hang in there.

    •  jared - that's awful! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jared the bassplayer

      I did a diary a few days ago on Preparing for Layoffs that may have some helpful suggestions for you.

      Good luck, and do what you can to take control of your situation from those witless jackasses.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:18:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  jared--that is horrific (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jared the bassplayer

      i agree, cassandracarolina's diary is a great comfort to many of us this morning facing various facets of corporate hell.

      but for your company to tell you in advance that you will no longer be employed and ask you to continue to contribute in the meantime is just absurd.  i struggle to find words extreme enough to describe it.

      i mean, puttings aside the obvious insensitivity to you--the productivity costs for them would seem obvious.

      wow.  just wow.  it never ceases to amaze me the depths of stupidity present in corporate america.  

      i am so sorry that you've had to endure this.  i hope you will soon find the liberation and peace that cc has described in her diary.

      all the best...

      •  What they're likely hoping (6+ / 0-)

        is that you will quit rather than waiting to be laid off. That way they won't have to pay you severance. I've seen this a lot, unfortunately.

        Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

        by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:51:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ah, well that makes sense (2+ / 0-)

          weighing lost productivity vs. value of severence.

          i wonder how they factor in potential for employee sabotage?  there's an IRR for everything...

          •  Yeah! I got that same thing. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cassandracarolina, quixotic, HCKAD

            ...and I gotta say- it has been hard to wake up in the morning and go into work knowing whats coming.

            But I guess its better to know in advance that to be surprised. They're gonna lay off around 1,200 people across the US in one fell swoop. Bastards.

            What really burns me is that the CEO of this place makes- just in reported salary alone (most of his real money comes from investments)- in one day what I make in one year. Every day. And their laying me off to save money? Hmmph. I'm so impressed.

            Support your local musicians!

            by jared the bassplayer on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:39:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  that's the real issue that no one ever gets to (3+ / 0-)

              the disparity between workers pay and executive compensation.  is what your CEO does REALLY 500 times more valuable than what you do?  is it in fact so valuable that we have to push wages down so far that people are working full time, living in poverty, just so he can have more and more?

              i don't think so.

              i'm so tired of people calling the working poor "middle class".  they're not middle class--they're the working POOR.  and why is that?  b/c the ceo needs more money.  and why is that?  b/c somewhere along the line, we condoned greed as an american value.

              at no point in the grand scheme of "saving money" at your company did they stop and think--maybe we should re-evaluate our executive compensation.  no, they thought--let's lay off 1200 consumers.

              brilliant bunch of people these guys.  it's only sustainable to a point.  and then the demand dries up and even the CEO's are screwed.

              /rant

  •  My best employment experiences over the years (3+ / 0-)

    (and, yes, I have had a few good experiences, as well as many crummy ones) have had the flavor of being "stolen," i.e. something I enjoyed despite, not because of, anything management had done--or intended.

    When your best and highest aspiration is "not getting laid off", you've ceded control to people who clearly do not care what happens to you.
    Too many times, I have looked in the mirror before going to work and thought, "If I do this job well enough I don't get fired, I'm doing great."

    I don't think it's just me, either.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 07:55:15 AM PDT

    •  Great analogy, karmsy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy

      Once in a while, when I was doing work I really loved for a good client, I really felt "in the zone", and thought, hey, I'd do this even without pay! Now I will have the chance to do that again on my own, with some of the same customers, and without a massive bureacracy of idiots standing between me and the client.

      Corporations have a way of stripping us of that pride, and dumbing us down. They value consistency and obedience over excellence while espousing all those wonderful "core values" that they're killing off in their people.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:21:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Coolest layoff I ever saw (6+ / 0-)

    Corp called an all-employee meeting for 10:00 in the auditorium, then at 9:50 called 7 people individually and told them not to go to the meeting. [I was contracting and so of course stayed at my desk.] At 10:05, someone showed up at each of the 7 people's desks with a grocery cart, told them to put their personal stuff in the cart, then go get their cars and drive around the front of the building where they could exchange their passes for their personal stuff. By 10:20, they had never existed. No knowledge-transfer, no farewell parties, no goodbyes at all.

    At another site, all layoffs were conducted by Security at 4:50 on Friday afternoon, so everybody watched the elevators with trepidation at that time.

    At a 'small business', the owner had his mother-in-law do the firing, so any time she showed up was a time of fear.

    Am I right, or am I right? - The Singing Detective

    by Clem Yeobright on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:07:19 AM PDT

  •  Welcome back. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina

    Life is certainly better on the other side of a career in a large company.

  •  I could talk about this for hours (6+ / 0-)

    I left my corporate world early this year.  I had planned on staying away and even wrote a diary here about my intention of going to all-in and working for the Obama campaign.

    The campaign wasn't hiring in DC, so my efforts were mainly GOTV volunteer work in Virginia.  Which was fun, but far less than full time.  This gave me a lot of time to work on my house, on my boat, on my marriage, and more importantly on my life.

    Then I started getting a very hard sell from a former colleague about coming back into Corporate Life for a very large company.  I resisted.... then relented.

    Now I'm back, but with a very different mindset.  To overstate it: I don't care about this job.  Its fun.  The company is great.  The people are good, and its related directly to what I have about 20 years of experience doing.  ...so I'm doing it.  But on my terms.

    I leave everyday at 4:00, except for the days where I go swimming over lunch.  I don't work weekends.  I don't check email at night.  I'm here to execute a critical phase of a large corporate acquisition and then restructure an operational department.  ..after that I may or may not even stay here.

    My specific situation aside, the big difference between me and everyone around me is based on 2 things:

     - 1.  I am not looking up the corporate ladder anymore.  If I wanted to go all-in here I could (re-)launch a major career at this massive global corporation.  I don't.  I just don't care.  My LIFE-work balance is great right now.  Some awesome promotion or project opportunity that would come with all kinds of money and title or whatever is nothing to me except a threat to that balance.  Put simply: I have removed the company's carrot from in front of my eyes.
     - 2.  I'd be happy not working.  Sure, my wife and I would have less money but we'd get by (as we proved earlier this year).  Right now I'm enjoying my work here and I'm paid well enough for my efforts (I really didn't even push in salary negotiation).  But if/when this ends, I'm just going back to living my life.  I do not live in any kind of fear about losing my job.  Put simply:  I have removed the company's stick from behind my ass.

    This combination has made me remarkably immune to the kind of Working Decay you describe in your diary and that I lived through for many years.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:49:01 AM PDT

    •  You have the right idea, Wisper (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbob, entrelac

      Few people have figured that out, but it's key: you need to make yourself and your loved ones the top priority.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:55:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Just to be clear (5+ / 0-)

      I fully recognize that a take-it-or-leave-it attitude towards working is not an option for everyone.

      One of the BIGGEST reasons I can do this is because I do not have children.  That is not the situation for everyone, or even most.  If I had to worry about the costs of parenting, the need for health-care, tuition bills, saving for colleges, etc, I may very well think differently.

      Another is that after 30+ years of executive management between my wife and I, we have worked to build up enough of a financial buffer to allow this.  We are fortunate, and I don't in any way take this for granted.

      But my point is that mindset is important and that it is worth the effort to do whatever is required to be able to take back control of your life.  Do not let an outside entity (corporate manager, society expectations, etc) determine YOUR goals for YOUR life.  When I was younger, I was 100% I wanted to be on a CIO career track.  I was absolutely certain this was what I wanted right up and until I actually became a CIO.  Now... I wouldn't even be interested in meeting with a company to discuss a CIO opportunity.  I could double my income.  I realize that.  But I am NOT interested in the price I would have to pay to do it.  Its not worth it.  Not for me at least....

      Even now, since we're currently back to a dual-income situation, we are still poring this money into key debt reduction, savings and life-simplification projects so that we can definitely go back to a single income life with the kind of balance and benefits this diarist is currently discovering.

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:58:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And people think Dilbert exaggerates? (5+ / 0-)

    Nobody ever sold management on cubicle farms because they thought it would make life better for the workers. Maybe we should call them what they are - white collar sweatshops.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:53:45 AM PDT

    •  "White collar sweatshops" - great term! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, entrelac, marina

      thanks, xaxnar. It's all about reducing cost, but... they never factor in the plummeting productivity (to say nothing of plummeting morale). You cannot concentrate in that kind of environment. The constant barrage of sound, visual distractions, even germs make the cubicle farms the biggest impediment to efficiency.

      You can get 1000 e-mails from "corporate" telling you what a great place your company is in terms of diversity, employee compensation, engagement, innovation, integrity, blah blah blah, but it's what they do, not what they say, that tells the story.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 09:28:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Several years ago, the division (6+ / 0-)

    I worked for at mega-company was sold without warning. The new owners suddenly appeared at 9am on Monday morning and called us into a conference room to introduce themselves as our new bosses. We were in disbelief. How could our old bosses not give us any kind of warning? One of them showed up to introduce us to the new bosses and then promptly left the building. They told us our jobs were safe for a year and then we'd have the opportunity to interview to keep them. Pffft. Basically, we could train them for a year and then take a walk. I said "no thanks" and walked out the door that day. It changed my life, for the better. Yes it was scary, but I've never been happier. Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees.

    •  Good for you, Scout Finch (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina

      Whenever acquisitions occured in my corporate life, some of the best and brightest people left right away rather than be sucked into the latest Borg collective.

      This selected in favor of the less intelligent, less entrepreneurial folks who remained. Repeating this process over and over drove out many excellent people, to the lasting detriment of our customers. They were often smart enough to follow the folks to their new companies.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 09:30:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A couple of weeks ago (5+ / 0-)

    I went on a tour of possible new office space for our 50 person branch office. It was part of a newer six year old building that was being sold off after a bigger company bought out the smaller company that formerly occupied that building.

    140 local people lost their jobs from the buy out in our small town, and the office space was very spacious, but creepy.  All of the offices still had people's names on the doors or the walls of their cubicles. I knew several of the people that had formerly worked there. It was like walking through a graveyard of hopes and dreams.

    Corporate America is no place for the faint of heart.

    “I never bought a man who wasn't for sale.” Senator William Clark D-MT 1901-1907

    by Ed in Montana on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 09:04:06 AM PDT

  •  I am delighted to see one of your excellent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina

    diaries on the Rec list. Thank you for sharing your gifts.

  •  good explanation. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina

    thanks

  •  Wow, you're good! Sticktoitiveness, I haz none. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, marina

    I don't think I've held a corporate-type job for longer than 3 years. It never ends well for me.
    Stress! Weight loss due to stress isn't a good diet. I looked great but what a mental mess. Awright, gained 10 pounds since I was framed and fired but so what? :-PPP

    rMoney: Just another jerk, lookin' for work.

    by OleHippieChick on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 09:44:40 AM PDT

  •  OMG! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina

    This has been my life for the last 2.5 years. I relate with much of what you shared. I don't have a husband with benefits, though.

    I started a consulting shop to provide communications services, then enrolled in grad school to add to my credentials. It was okay at first, but things have dried up.

    Now that I finished grad school, my health insurance ended. I'm looking at other options, and praying that I land something that comes with insurance or a large contract where I can pay for it.

    This is a whirlwind that seems unfair. After doing everything I was supposed to do -- education, successful work for nearly 30 years straight, civic and church service and an enormous amount of charitable projects -- some days I just feel lost and alone. The emotions are  unfamiliar and scary.

    One thing I do not miss is the corporate grindstone. I lost my identity because my employer and profession were my identity. People still identify as by profession and employer. I smile, then thank God I no longer am bound to that role. I just had no clue how deeply this was embedded in my psyche. I long for a total release.

    Help me, please.

    •  I hear you, CocoaLove (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CocoaLove

      That's the cruelest part of a layoff: being suddenly severed from the work that's your identity.

      One thing that's helping me is oddly something I have steadfastly resisted up to now: joining LinkedIn. I have connected with many people from my past, including clients and people who can connect me to work now that I'm running my own company. It's remarkable and uplifting, and a low-cost way of networking. There are many LinkedIn groups that you can join for every sort of professional, geographic, or other affiliation. I recommend it as a way of finding work, and finding kindred spirits dealing with the same issues, including the quest for benefits at a reasonable price.

      Most of us were fine upstanding citizens, with file folders full of accolades before some corporate drone deemed us nothing but volcano fodder. Your skills and dedication will be valued again, I'm certain. Keep us posted on your quest, and know that you are by no means alone in your concerns.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:02:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  LinkedIn (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cassandracarolina

        I've had an account for years. But I have no clue about what to do, sad to say. Maybe you or someone can provide tips.

        Graduate school was a welcomed distraction and step to transition away from a nearly 30-year career. But now that has ended I feel lost again. I would love to gain some semblance of normalcy into my life.

        •  I am a complete newbie on LinkedIn (0+ / 0-)

          but one thing to do is to list all your skills. They give you the option of listing 50, and I listed 50, all honestly things I which I have expertise and experience.

          Join some groups. Write recommendations for some of your connections and perhaps they will return the favor. Make sure your profile highlights your expertise and your aspirations for future employment, some people will ONLY read that, so start it off with a grabber first sentence or two.

          There's plenty to do, and LinkedIn can be great, or just a major time sink. Focus on what YOU want to get out of it. Good luck.

          Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

          by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:34:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This, 1000 times, this (5+ / 0-)
    When you work at a company where layoffs are constantly looming, you develop a siege mentality. Everyday, it's either going to be you, or someone you know. The angst is palpable. A lot of your mental energy goes into psyching yourself up every day.

    Concurrently, there's an expectation - spoken or unspoken - that you'd better pick up the pace. When your annual performance review notes that you're fortunate just to have a job, you know that employee engagement is no longer in play (colorful and upbeat corporate e-mails notwithstanding). Your continued employment is only a temporary reprieve. The Grim Reaper is just busy studying other cells on the Spreadsheet of Life. Your cell will come up soon. You'd better be ready.

    I was also laid off from a large corporation and I can relate to this 1000%.  Performance reviews don't matter, it's all just meaningless fluff.  I consistently got the highest performance reviews of my peers but in the end it didn't matter a bit.  When someone in a boardroom somewhere went over the spreadsheet and decided which jobs to cut, performance was obviously not part of that equation.  This made clear to me the fact that in a large corporate environment, I was simply a number on a spreadsheet, not an actual person.  I can't tell you how many times my former coworkers, when informed of my layoff, couldn't believe that I lost my job while others whose performance was never rated as high as mine still had their jobs.  It was clearly entirely arbitrary.

    The worst part is that this wasn't the first time it had happened to me at the same company.  I was able to find another job in the same company the first time it happened (without help from anyone there I might add, I wasn't reassigned or given other opportunities, I had no say in my job being cut and I was left twisting in the wind, it was entirely up to me to find another opportunity) but it changed me.  There was constant dread hanging over me every minute of every day, wondering when my number would come up again.  Knowing that it would and that it was just a matter of time gave me no solace; it was just as much of a life-altering event and a shock to my system the second time as it was the first if not more so.

    Probably the biggest humiliation the first time it happened was that I was forced to train those that were replacing my job function to do the job I had just been relieved of.

    I wasn't as lucky the second time, I am still unemployed and every day that goes by that I apply to job after job and nothing pans out sucks a little more life out of me.  Each job interview I go to that doesn't result in getting hired drains me a little more.  The dread builds up more and more every time and I wonder how long I can continue, I wonder how much of that dread and cynicism is noticeable in interviews despite my best efforts to hide it and if that's not a contributing factor if not the factor in not being offered a position.

    I probably could have found another opportunity for employment at the same company if I had tried a little harder, over time I had built up a surplus of good will with my coworkers but I just didn't have it in me.  I couldn't bring myself to seek another job with the same company where I would yet again just be waiting in line for the ax to fall again.  In hindsight, I and my family would be a lot better off now if I had just sucked it up and found another position, a realization which only makes life that much more miserable now.

    I have little left but contempt for corporate America.  Gone are the days when seniority or excellent performance mean anything to the higher-ups.  Gone are the days of company loyalty for employees for their years of service, though loyalty from the employees to the company is not just expected but demanded.  To say that I am jaded is putting it mildly.  And yet, in order to get another job, I have to do the Kabuki dance and pretend that none of this is true.

    I really don't like to talk about this for obvious reasons but your diary really resonated with me and writing about my experience has been cathartic even though the outcome for me has been far less positive than the outcome for you.  Thank you for writing this.

    Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

    by democracy inaction on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:04:51 AM PDT

    •  everything you say is exactly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HCKAD, democracy inaction, Belle Ame

      what I experienced. A file full of stellar performance reviews was worth only its BTU value when its tossed into the volcano along with my sorry ass.

      People who know me can't believe I was let go, but plenty of great people were let go, to the shock and dismay of their customers. Nothing says "we care about our customers" like dumping the key account people.

      The emotional toll of a layoff does impair one's ability to go out to interviews with a positive vibe. However, work still needs to get done, and companies are seeking good people. The continued hovering of "headhunters" is further evidence of this.

      Some of the folks laid off by my former employer are now working directly for their customers. That's another sign that someone values them, even if a short-sighted corporation doesn't.

      It's never too late to reinvent yourself, I was 59 when laid off, not ideal, but I am trying to make a go of it on my own, and have hopes of success. Keep us posted in your journey.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:30:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I totally love your diaries on the corporate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, quixotic

    world, because now I know I am not crazy.  You should make a book out of these series.  Heaven knows, we can all send you plenting of supporting material.

  •  What a great diary and great discussion. Thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, HCKAD

    for enabling it in such an entertaining and well-written way :D

  •  Terrific diary, cc (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina

    Welcome to the ranks of the creatively-engaged but otherwise broke!  You'll be busier than before, but much happier and fulfilled.

    "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

    by DrLori on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:36:38 AM PDT

    •  Thanks, DrLori (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DrLori

      So far no revenue, but I have several clients very interested in my services. Not bad for less than 4 months since my layoff date.

      I will rejoice when I get my first signed contract ;-)

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:47:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this fabulous description of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, Belle Ame

    the effects of corporate 'life'.  It's a soul-sucking environment.  

    A couple years ago, events conspired where I landed on the CBS Evening News in a segment about older workers and what they were doing to survive the meltdown.  (My apologies for the commercial lead-in.)

    I'm coming up on my third year anniversary of launching my business.  Growth has been sporadic, but am still adding clients.  My husband comments on how I don't come home complaining about work anymore.  My migraine headaches have reduced in intensity & frequency. (Now it's the weather that's the trigger, not stress.)  

    Money is tighter and I have no benefits, but I still wouldn't go back to that world even if they tripled everything I had in my best year.

    No, I will NOT sit down or shut up...but, thanks for askin'!

    by HoosierDeb on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 11:12:19 AM PDT

  •  Wish everyone in the country could read you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, Belle Ame

    post.

    I never thought I'd say this to anyone, but congratulations on being laid off and being able to find life and sanity again.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey and wise insights.

    May your life continue to thrive and bloom with increased health and opportunity.

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by Onomastic on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 11:23:01 AM PDT

    •  Thank you, Onomastic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Onomastic, Belle Ame

      I can now see my layoff as a fortuitous event. A the time, it felt like falling through a trap door. Writing this series of diaries has been very therapeutic for me. If they're helpful to other people, that's very gratifying indeed.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 11:52:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your sharing of what it has all been like for you (3+ / 0-)

        has been so helpful. In fact, freeing.

        For decades, my "instincts" always said that Corporate culture was damaging. It's why I could never bring myself to really be a part of it, poverty or not.

        You've explained so clearly why those instincts, crazy as it seemed, were right.

        Can't thank you enough, and not just for that reason.

        "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

        by Onomastic on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 12:07:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Been there, done that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, Belle Ame, llywrch

    Thanks for a good description of it all.

    I was laid off a bit more than three years ago, but was very lucky. The company was cviilzed enough that they treated it like leaving -- those who wanted to could leave immediately, and some did. Those who felt they wanted to tie up loose ends and not leave projects hanging could stay for up to two weeks, which I did.

    That let me contact all the people I'd worked with, who depended on work I could assign out, to let them know someone else would be their contact now. And it let me set my work up in such a way that I could hand it off with minimal fuss to others.

    That approach serves everyone better in the long term, I think. And, yes, I did get rehired several months later, although I've since left that company for real.

    But being on your own -- or freelancing, as we call it -- has huge advantages. In a seven- or eight-hour corporate work day, you do actual work in about four or five of thosehours. The rest is taken up with pointless meetings and emails and so on, as you say.

    "We don't think the government can solve all of our problems, but we don't think the government is the source of our problems." -- Barack Obama

    by Mnemosyne on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 12:43:37 PM PDT

  •  Very insightful diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, Belle Ame

    I worked for a large corporation for only two years - back in my early 30's.  Even then, I worked in an offshoot department that was in a separate building from the main office.  The benefits were:  good benefits (health insurance, life insurance up to your annual salary at no cost to you, fairly decent sick and vacation leave, etc.).  The downside was that we would be told to follow procedures that seemed nonsensical or inefficient, probably designed by someone who had never done our jobs.  HR seemed to micro manage our work lives also.

    After that experience, I went back to small firms, and I have not made as much money as I could have, but I think it served my mental health to do so anyway.

  •  Thanks for sharing Cassie (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, Belle Ame

    I've been thru a couple of layoffs in the last 4 years.  

    The first one happened after I'd spent 18 months driving a project team into exhaustion.  We all had 1,000 yard stares, the only humor was gallows humor.  We'd bit off more than we could chew and it showed,  Everyone was waking up with cold sweats in the middle of the night just thinking about what still had to get done.

    I got told the news, got to clean my desk and leave.  That night was the first whole night's sleep I'd had in 18 months.

    This layoff isn't as graceful.  I think they realized that they'd made a mistake and lost a critical talent, but they won't back down.  They have moved my final date out 3 months.  Now If I can just find a new job.

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 01:02:47 PM PDT

  •  I work in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, Belle Ame

    sustainability.  It's doubly frustrating in an agency that faces a budget crisis, but in any event it's impossible to deal with management that can't think ahead.  Sustainability is a pain in their ass and they can't see the benefits unless you tie it to dollars.

    We finally got rid of styrofoam, and they decided to replace it with . . . plastic bags.

    Because they're "cheaper" - only if you don't think of the exhorbitant cost of destroying the planet using something made of fossil fuel that does not biodegrade in landfills and if it does biodegrade, it pollutes the soil, and if it doesn't stay on/in the ground, clogs up the ocean and kills wildlife.

    But it's cheaper!

    Only political pressure put a stop to that, we're switching to compostable paper products, but it was certainly not a foregone conclusion that they would wise up.

    Another cubicle-hell nightmare is the feeding frenzy that happens when people are laid off.  

    First, IT comes and wipes their hard drive, as if nothing they every did was important.  

    Then everyone takes a look at the ex-employee's chair and monitor and whatever else to see if they can score an upgrade.  

    Because in cubicle hell, it's survival of the fittest, where the one most favored or most ruthless has a comfortable chair and huge monitor, while the rest of us work with backaches and hope our computer, which is whining because the fan is on the fritz, makes it until IT finds a(n old) replacement.

    Because management doesn't understand that backaches and eye strain have a negative effect on performance.

    Why is it that a 3% tax increase for the wealthy is considered "socialism" and an 8% wage cut for the middle class is "doing your part"? MartyM

    by delphine on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 01:31:21 PM PDT

  •  Most of the time I forget I have an MBA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, llywrch

    When I decided to get a graduate degree in managing information systems most of those programs were under the MBA curriculum.  (Now it's much easier to find an MS program.) I thought, well, I'm a history of/and science geek and it would be good for me to learn about business practices and theory.

    I went full-time as I knew I would not be good at working FT and taking evening classes, so I took classes mostly with the much younger students right out of college or with only a year or two of real world experience. A big contrast to the evening students my age who had lots of work experience in the trenches and were doing this to move up in their companies.

    Let's just say that my last quarters I took as many classes as I could to get out of there as soon as possible. I didn't care if I was overloading myself. In fact the last quarter I calculated that I needed just a B- in one class plus D's in the others to meet completion and GPA requirements to graduate. I wanted OUT before I became a total communist revolutionary. I nearly registered as a socialist as it was.

    Basically I was usually in a room full of Romneys. I actually overheard a group of them complaining about having to take one class in Human Resources because it did not teach them how to be millionaires before they reached 30. (That was my favorite non-computer class BTW.) So it shouldn't be surprising that they fought over interview slots with the big consulting companies that visited campus. I saw this army of privileged narcissists who thought they knew everything despite having little to zero experience with life going out to tell the Board of Directors of companies how to control labor, spruce up the balance sheet and keep stockholders appeased. I feared for my country.

    •  Belle Ame, thanks for this glimpse of MBA (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Belle Ame, llywrch

      education. My employer had a tuition reimbursement program, and they paid for several people to get their MBAs. One became my boss for a short while. Prior to his MBA he was an okay guy, but afterwards, he viewed us all like rats in his private lab experiment. He read the "One Minute Manager" and adoted it as his bible, apparently. A typical encounter would be "Hey. How's it going. Hey. That's great" and before you knew it, he was going. You could never tell him a thing.

      I sat in stunned silence as he went over my performance review, taking credit for my achievements which apparently resulted from "his" exceptional management. (That didn't explain my good performance for the prior 15 years of my career). I had blown away all my goals, and had probably one of the best years of my career at that point.

      I asked him if I could shift my role in the group to do more selling of services (something very few people wanted to do). He said, no, I was "too valuable" doing what I was doing (billing out hours on work already captured). I felt like he'd punched me in the gut.

      An executive search person happened to call me the next week. Usually I hang up in a matter of nanoseconds, but this guy was very courteous and treated me with respect. Long story short, I took a job at a competitor. They were fine with me doing outside sales... for the entire region.

      I asked my MBA boss if I could have a moment of his time (so I could give notice). He seemed edgy, like he has someplace to go, so I said, look, this will just take a minute. I sat down, closed the door, and said: "I'll be brief. Consider this my two-week notice".

      He turned white as a sheet, then mumbled "Wow. I have to say I didn't see this coming". Well, of course not. That's that pesky human interaction stuff they just glossed over in school.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 02:26:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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