Friday, November 21, 2008

Why 'Pink-slipped'?

Some people climb mountains, others strive to out-flambe Emeril, still others try to bed as many people as they can. My quest? To make this the shortest-lived blog that ever was. What else is left? I've already been pushed off a summit, singed and screwed.

On Tuesday, I was drafted into what has to be the demographic classification with a bullet, though that's probably a poor choice of words. The day started out as any other. By lunchtime, for the first time in my 51 years, I'd been pink-slipped, an unwilling recruit for the growing army of the jobless. Technically it was a lay-off, a tag that does indeed afford some comfort, since it wasn't performance-related. But my parents, those children of the Great Depression, would have never made such a distinction. You're either working or you're not. And I'm not.

All the motivational speakers I've endured over the years would be quick to add smiley-face qualifiers like, "temporarily," "until the economy picks up," or "in the traditional sense, but pay comes in many forms." It's easy for them to be so positive. They've found a way to turn unemployment into a paying career.

Now it's my turn either to do the same or find real work again. But have you looked at the news lately? More than 50,000 new recruits are joining the army of the unemployed from Citigroup alone. Depending on what estimate you see for the U.S. automotive industry, the carnage could extend anywhere from about 250,000 people upwards to 3 million. My profession, journalism, may be faring even worse on a percentage basis. One wag has set up a website, NewspaperDeathWatch, to tabulate the cutbacks in that sector of the business. Even the bounciest motivational speaker would sound a bit Steven Wright-ish after considering the situation.

Actually, I'm not as bitter as this might make me sound. And my barbs are meant as black humor, not as any real signs of resentment toward my former employer. Indeed, it handled the situation in an extremely humane fashion, and I'd go back there in a heartbeat. My anger is reserved for the White House and the other guardians of the economy. They're the ones who sidelined millions of responsible, eager-to-work people who did nothing wrong but work in a job that looked glaring on a budget sheet.

But that anger won't get me anywhere. Hence this blog. I'm hoping it'll be a medium for airing my frustrations. Ideally it'll also serve as a touchstone for others who've been thrown into this new uber-category of the newly laid off. Indeed, I hope others will post their experiences, feedback and advice, not for me, but for anyone who's been victimized by the economy.

It'll also scratch my jones to write for an audience until I find a regular communications gig. At that point, I'll pull the plug and move on. But in the meantime, I hope you'll enjoy these bar stool ramblings as you unwind from your own job hunting or survival strategizing. Just remember, it's BYOB.

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