toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

May 04, 2010

the party’s over!

Jasmine is 24 and back home living with her parents after she and many more young people lost their jobs when a local company folded. At first, she thoroughly enjoyed the between jobs period - partying every night - but as the months ticked by she got scared about having to find another job.

"Because I was part of a mass lay-off I spent many drunken evenings with my friends," says Jasmine. "The first two stages of getting back on track - being angry and in denial - were energizing and fun. We were angry at losing our jobs and cursed the company and at some level even denied we were jobless - but it was a great time!"

"Anyone who has ever experienced being the sole person laid-off must be green with envy at the camaraderie of my situation," says Jasmine, "because there is nothing like being in the same boat as everyone else to make you feel better, and there is nothing like a celebration, or wake, to ease the pain of any loss."

"The bailiff may soon be knocking on doors to repossess homes, cars and television sets," points out Jasmine, "but what laid-off people need more than anything else in the world is plenty of company and good friends to share their denial and anger."

"Just like the card companies started printing ‘Happy Divorce’ cards when divorce became so prevalent that nobody could ignore it any more," laughs Jasmine, "I'm sure that some marketing magician at John Sands has drawn up the prototype for a ‘Happy Pink Slip’ card."

"I understand that permanent jobs were a 20th century phenomenon and accept that everyone these days can now expect to be pink-slipped on a regular basis," says Jasmine, "but it's still a sad event, possibly a cause of suicide in some cases."

"Let's face it, lay-offs are becoming such a common occurrence in workplaces these days that it's no longer a stigma to be unemployed. And that’s good news!"

Jasmine makes the point that in her parents’ generation it was often the case that just one or two people got laid-off. The hapless guys who were the first to get laid off when the arrow on the company profit chart started to turn downwards had to suffer the ignominy of going home alone with their pink slips, often with nobody but their immediate family to console them.

Sometimes even families turned against the jobless, especially if it was the family breadwinner who had been pink slipped.

"You see," says Jasmine, "it was once such a terrible stigma to be laid off. Your hale and hearty workmates who were still in jobs no longer wanted to know you. Your best friends who were still in jobs no longer wanted to know you. It was as if nobody but your mother wanted to know you when you had lost your job."

Jasmine explains that it was not that all of these people suddenly disliked you. They merely felt uncomfortable being around you. They feared for their own jobs. They felt that the pink slip you carried might be contagious.

"Looked at positively," says Jasmine, "the mass lay-offs that occur around the world these days are effectively changing our attitude towards the jobless. There is no longer any shame in being pink slipped. It happens to the best of us, not just those who were last to be hired or those whose last performance review was under par. And quite a number of CEOs lose their jobs, too, when the companies they captained hit the rocks."

"Okay, CEOs do not get pink slipped," Jasmine adds, "but a forced resignation renders one just as jobless as a pink slip. And have you heard of any informal CEO pink slip wakes - where all the jobless CEOs get together and drown their sorrors? So pity them, sort of. They may be rolling in their ill-gotten gains, but they lack the camaraderie that their pink slipped former employees can enjoy and their chances of re-employment are not as good as ours. Who wants to hire someone who captained a business into bankruptcy?"

"I remember hearing about the pink-slip parties organized by recruiters that happened after the dotcom bust a few years ago," says Jasmine. "Hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs and the recruiters moved in looking for easy prey - vulnerable people likely to jump into a new low-paying job out of desperation."

"The only parties that I went to after my company folded were the informal parties organized by my former coworkers," says Jasmine. "You know what I mean, the type of party that just happens when there is a local lay-off. The type of party where a group heads for the nearest bar and you can vent your denial and anger among people who are going through the same experience as you. No recruitment company threw a pink-slip party for us!"

"The first two months of being between jobs was spent in a drunken haze," laughs Jasmine. "And, because I didn't have to get up early for work the next day - or the day after, or the day after that - I partied on till dawn and plotted with my former coworkers all manner of dastardly revenges on our former employer."

"I believes it's a healthy process to hold wakes and to plot revenges after losing a job," says Jasmine. "It helped me over the initial anger and denial phase and channeled my anger into harmless talk. It is more likely to be the sole laid-off person - or someone without supportive friends - who is actually capable of carrying out revenges."

"After the denial and anger of job loss dissipated," says Jasmine, "I started to feel sad and it was during this period that I decided to return home. Luckily, my parents saw my depression as perfectly normal and natural and were willing to support me until I'm ready to face the world again."

"I’m not really in any hurry to find another job," confides Jasmine, "I remember too well the hassles of going to the salt-mine every day and I'm happy to stay between jobs for as long as my parents can put up with me!"

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