Oct. 2 marked the one-year anniversary of the day I was laid off. I don’t have any delusions of being superior to anyone, nor of being absolutely indispensable for the well-being of a company, but if you told me last Oct. 2 that I’d still be out of work this Oct. 2, I’d have laughed at you. Now it’s not very funny.
As anyone who knows me or follows this blog already knows, I haven’t been completely useless. I picked up one part-time job in April, and a second in June. The good news is that I’m working and I’m doing interesting, relevant things and keeping myself in the loop, rather than just killing time. The bad news is that the two part-time jobs are taking more out of me than my full-time job did, for about one-half the pay. There have been many days when I’ve started around 7:30 a.m. and gone straight through until 8 or 9 p.m., although not having a commute eases the pain of those hours to some degree.
I’ve been doing both jobs since June, and there are times when I still struggle with juggling both. I don’t want to favor one over the other, but just the same, I don’t want to leave something important hanging for either one of them, and admittedly, there have been several days when I would have loved a do-over so that I could take a completely different approach to managing my time.
I was really hoping (and I still am) that one of the part-time positions would become full-time, but I’m a little less optimistic these days, since the first wants me to cut back on my hours and the second brought over another person in a full-time role from a site the company sold. Unless the blog I’m working on explodes, I can’t see them adding a second full-time person when most of the company’s blogs don’t even have one.
Still, as I said, I’m happy with my role in both jobs, and despite what I said about making one-half of what I made at my old job, I’m being treated more than fairly by both companies and I am not even remotely disgruntled. It’s just very hard to adjust to part-time work after being in a full-time role from mere days after I graduated NYU in 1990 until just over one year ago. I really miss the stability of a permanent job.
And on a personal note, while COBRA is one of the most helpful tools for the unemployed, having to write out a check to my old company every month grates on my nerves to no end. I really wish the check went straight to the insurance company, because while I know the funds end up there, the mere thought of that company receiving one cent from me boils my blood.
Speaking of my old company, I’m smart enough to not even consider mentioning specific names or going into detail in a blog, because I’ve heard far too many stories about people being burned by content posted in their blogs. But I’ve held this in for one year and need to get it off my chest.
I’m not saying I’d have survived the layoffs had the things I’m about to mention not happened, because people with far more illustrious backgrounds there were also among the victims, but I really feel like I was doomed by two poor decisions. The first, by an old boss who was forced out of the company a few months before my layoff, moved me from a publication where I had spent 12 ½ productive years and felt like a well-respected part of the core to a publication where I flat-out didn’t fit in and never felt respected or welcome. And the second decision involves the people running the department now, who should not have been picked over some of the people I worked with at my original publication.
Again, there’s no guarantee that I’d still be there, but the two decisions really greased the skids. I never meshed well with the second publication, and despite all that, I’d take my work results and productivity over those of many of the people still employed there (certainly not all, because there are some great people there, too). Sadly, the decision was not mine to make, nor was it made by anyone with an appreciation for how hard I worked, but such is life. I keep trying to tell myself that everything happens for a reason, although after a little over a year, that reason has proven pretty elusive to grasp.
On another personal note, the timing of this stretch of unemployment could not possibly be worse. I got engaged Aug. 1 and, while my fiancée and her family have been nothing short of wonderful and supportive throughout this entire ordeal, not being able to propose with a “real” ring and not being able to contribute anything financially toward the wedding really sucks.
And another thing that really sucks: I don’t see much light at the end of the tunnel. I think I’ve sent out about three résumés over the past two months. I forgot what an interview feels like, much like a phone call that isn’t from a telemarketer. And just when I think things are starting to turn around, I hear horrible industry news, like yesterday’s report that Condé Nast eliminated four magazines, including Gourmet. News of that sort hits hard, even when I don’t know any of the victims, because all it does is increase the competition for the trickle of jobs that might actually be available.
Overall, my spirits and my state of mind are pretty healthy, but when it comes to the job situation, they pretty much suck.