Budget cuts. Business is slow. Hard times...blah blah blah. It doesn't make it feel any better, no matter what you call it. Lay-offs.
Today the company that both my husband and I work for had to lay off 12% of the workforce, which roughly meant 24 people. We were not affected...it was only production employees which is the nice term for shop guys. It was uncomfortable. Each of the guys was in turn called into the office to be given the news that he must now go home and tell his wife and kids that daddy no longer has a job. Twenty-four families have to figure out what they are going to do about the holidays coming up. Parents now have to worry about paying their bills and buying groceries in a time when they might have already been worried about that. We're not talking upper middle class folks. We're talking about lower income, hard working families, jobless and somewhat lost.
The sweet older gentleman who cleaned my particular office building, spoke very little English but always smiled at me when he emptied my trash is without a job now. I didn't even know his name until after he was laid off.
Before I left for the day, one of the second shift guys was brought into the office by his supervisor and told to have a seat to wait the production VP to meet with him. He probably had no idea what was about to happen. I couldn't help but be moved almost to tears as I studied his work pants, permanently stained with dirt and shop filth, his velcro-closure black tennis shoes that probably weren't the best idea for footwear in a metal fabrication shop but I'm sure more comfortable on his tired feet, and his gold and well-worn wedding band signifying the wife he was going to have to let down later tonight when he gave her the news. Not that it was anything he did wrong; he was just the victim of a budget cut. I couldn't even look him in the eyes. I just wanted to tell him it was all going to be okay and that he didn't do anything wrong; maybe even hug him, I don't know. I had never even seen him before this afternoon but I won't forget the image of him sitting in that chair, waiting for the big boss and possibly wondering what the future would hold.
None of the people who were let go today were people I considered friends. I couldn't identify 80% of them in a line up I am sure. That doesn't make it feel any better. I don't know what people do in situations like that but I know life does go on, and I'm sure that most of them will find other jobs. I just wish that it didn't have to be this way. They each got up this morning, dressed for work with a sense of purpose, felt secure. Tomorrow will not hold the same drive for them that today did. That makes me sad.