The emotional roller-coaster of being unemployed moved up a level in class over the past couple of days, transforming from the typical, run-of-the-mill ride at an average amusement park like Rye Playland to Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure.
First, I received a Facebook message from a former co-worker, who asked if I’d be interested in a free-lance copy-editing job. Since my two part-time gigs have only been bringing in about one-half of what I was making before my layoff, turning down an opportunity to do something I excel at would be foolhardy.
After an extended bout of phone tag during the holiday weekend, my former co-worker’s boss and I were finally able to speak late Sunday, and I took the job. It required copy-editing what I thought was a 130-page project. However, I forgot how long it takes Microsoft Word to paginate long documents. The project was actually 240 pages, and it took me far longer than I ever anticipated, but I think I did a solid job cleaning it up and I hope it leads to more work.
I saved the bulk of the free-lance job for Monday evening so I could attend to my two steady part-time jobs during the day. I was just getting into my morning groove when the phone rang and it was my boss from the second of my two part-time jobs, calling to deliver some curious news. After I started my part-time gig with that company, another person was brought on to work full-time at the same site. He had been working for another site the company owned, but that site was sold. The deal officially went through yesterday, and this person was let go, which I didn’t expect.
Part-time blogging has been a strange transition. I worked with this person for a few months, yet met him only once and really didn’t even communicate too much with him via e-mail, except to make sure we weren’t working on the same stories and crossing our wires. We co-existed well and his work was pretty damn good. I certainly don’t have a bad thing to say about him.
I didn’t know what to think. Was this good for me, because with me being the only person working on the site, the company would have to keep me on board? Or was this bad because the cost-cutting ax is being swung again? This is all so confusing, and it’s even harder to decipher while working in isolation at home and not being able to read the vibe of the office.
While trying to digest the news, I still had two Web sites to work on, so I put it into the back of my mind and attacked my usual daily work. I found it somewhat curious that I didn’t receive a single e-mail from the first part-time gig all day, but I assumed my co-workers were out of the office and covering an event.
Suddenly, the phone rang just before 5 p.m. and, since the folks from my first part-time gig rarely call, if ever, when I saw the company’s name on my caller ID, I got that intuitive feeling that no good could possibly come from this phone call. Unfortunately, I was right. Someone much younger, at a much lower price, replaced me on a full-time basis. I can’t say I blame them. It was a smart move on their part. But it still sucks on a number of levels. Obviously, losing that steady stream of income will hurt. And I legitimately enjoyed the work I was doing. But it’s simple logic: When you can have a full-time employee for only a trifle more than you were paying a part-time employee, you make the move.
With the free-lance job I had just accepted looming, I didn’t have much time to feel sorry for myself. Partially thanks to my miscalculation on the number of pages (thanks, Bill Gates) and partly because of the time it took to get used to the style of writing I was dealing with, I worked until 2:30 a.m., then set my alarm for 6:45 a.m. to give the project one last spell-check and quick glance before sending it back. I haven’t heard anything yet, but I hope they were satisfied, because I’d be more than happy to tackle a few more of these projects. And now that I have a feel for how to attack the work load, I won’t need to pull any more college-style all-nighters.
After a shower and a Dunkin Donuts run (damn them for not carrying my pumpkin iced coffee after Thanksgiving), I settled in at my PC this morning to attend to my one remaining job. While hunting for stories, I discovered that my old company sold three publications, including the two I worked for, to another publishing company that I had never heard of (although I am familiar with one of its magazines). I don’t know what to think about this move, either. Escaping the inept management at my old company has to be seen as a plus. But I know nothing about the new company, so for all I know, they could be going out of the frying pan and into the fire.
I’m very concerned that more of my former co-workers will face layoffs, although I honestly don’t know how many more people they can cut and still hope to produce anything resembling a magazine and Web site. On the other hand, the people I clashed with near the end of my tenure at my old company occupy the type of senior-level posts that tend to be eliminated when a publication or group of publications is acquired. I’m not cruel enough to wish unemployment on anyone, but if it happens to one or both of the two people who I feel were directly or indirectly responsible for my current situation, I wouldn’t exactly shed a tear.
Later Tuesday afternoon, while juggling the tasks of doing my work and deciphering all of the news of the past couple of days, I received an e-mail from yet another former co-worker, who mentioned that a former co-worker of hers might have a job opening doing exactly what I did at my previous full-time job. Before I could even take a break from work to prepare a quick introductory e-mail, the former co-worker’s former co-worker’s boss (yes, I’m confused, too!) e-mailed me, asking if he could “pick my brain” for suitable candidates.
I thought to myself, “Suitable candidates? The most suitable candidate is yours truly,” and I responded with an e-mail to that effect, stating why I thought I’d be perfect for the job and attaching my résumé. Since tomorrow is the 14-month anniversary of my layoff, I’m not exactly doing cartwheels around the house, and I know better than to get too excited about anything, but I’m hopeful.
Things are picking up. I don’t know whether the end result of the past few days will be good or bad, but it certainly hasn’t been boring. For the love of God, someone please hire me and pull me out of this misery!