Too close for comfort

We just returned today from a 4 day weekend in Arkansas visiting Christian’s family and telling them the news. There was also a big party/family event going on at the same time so we got to see a lot of people. I want to talk more about it but I need to have Christian upload some pictures to Flickr first, so I will save that for another day.

When we got back last night I went online to check work email and found out that my company had a RIF (reduction in force) on Friday while I was gone! I do realize that in this economy, that should not be a surprise. However, we are a very small privately owned company and up until now, we’d been told we were doing fine and there would be no need for lay-offs. We had 305 employees and they let 35 go, which is something like 15%, right? 2 people from my actual working group are gone now.

I’m not exactly new to this whole RIF thing, I graduated college in 2001 with nothing but Technology experience, right into the dotcom crash. I worked as an IT contractor (consultant) at a major telecom company (one of the top 2 out there – still operating). Since I was a contractor and not an employee, I didn’t have benefits and the taxes I paid were extremely high. As I contractor, I knew that when they decided to let all the contractors go, they had no obligation to me – here today and gone tomorrow. You don’t get a package or severance because contractors aren’t company employees. However, I ate lunch with and hung out with the employees of the company at the time, who also knew they might be laid off any day. Every single day at lunch the conversation revolved around whether this would be the week that everyone would be laid off, who had heard what rumors, etc. This happened every day for at least 6 months. I had to stop eating with them! The speculation was so nerve-wracking. Finally, on the day I found out that I would not be coming back to work the next Monday, the entire department was laid off all on the same day. It was sad, but in the end, due to how long I had been hearing about it, it was kind of a relief to finally know for sure.

It’s a little different here since we’re so small and we hadn’t heard anything about it until it happened. And weird for me since I wasn’t even there when it happened. Today was our annual Employee Update meeting where they go on and on about our sales performance and profits, etc. The entire 4 hour meeting they only mentioned the RIF once, in passing. It was just very odd.