Thursday, December 13, 2018

Laid off

So I've been laid off. Again. Nice timing, eh?

This is the third time this has happened to me. The first was in 1998 when my 7-Eleven closed. I was young and stupid then, and didn't even think to apply for EI. It was harder to snag a new job than I'd expected, and I kept having to adjust my sights lower and lower, while swearing to God I'd sooner die than telemarket anything. Desperate, in late January, 1999, I walked into an interview at a local market research company and met my boss and future wife (if that's not redundant).

The next time was 2014, Sobeys, and longtime readers know all about that. THAT one was completely unexpected save for the premonition I had the day before (ask Eva: she distinctly remembers my asking her if I could come work with her because "something's coming down the pike").
Sobeys had never done a widescale layoff before, so it shocked the entire store that myself and the deli manager were chosen to be sacrificed to the Great God $ and his Profit (peace be upon him). I think that because this was so unprecedented, the severance package was extraordinary, far above the legal requirements. I took the summer off, technically still on payroll, and then that job search was an ordeal. A very mentally taxing ordeal that took a real toll on my sanity.

Being unemployed is lovely...for about a month, maybe six weeks. After that, it gets depressing and anxiety-provoking in a hell of a hurry. I eventually, with about a week to spare, got in at Walmart, which was far from ideal. I was there for three years and then made the jump to an inbound call center.

I remain under several NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) with serious teeth. (I once Googled the name of my former employer and my campaign's client in the same search string and got NOTHING back, which tells me they look. Closely.)

What I can tell you is I saw this one coming, too. Few others did. The prevailing attitude in the office was that while hours would be cut, they wouldn't go below 37.5/week and they sure wouldn't be eliminating entire positions. The more loudly that last got insisted, the more methought  they doth protested too much.
So it was not at all surprising when I was pulled away from my job last Monday and informed another campaign in the building was hiring. It was strongly suggested I jump to it. Very strongly suggested. That client is an online bank. Unlike my back-office job at the time, where I'd pick up a phone maybe five times a day and get voicemail four of those five times, my new position would involve taking incoming calls all day long.

How do I put this.

I'm not cut out for that kind of customer service. It's abusive as hell. I know just from talking to people on the service side of the campaign (not to mention Eva, who is in the same line of work with vastly more important, and thus self-entitled, custiomers) that people are UGLY on the phone and I can only imagine how ugly they'd be when it's their money I'd be handling. 

Periodic and occasional abuse is one thing: retail workers need a thick skin. Constant entitlement and temper tantrums from people who feel safely anonymized by being on the other end of a phone line, day in, day out? I know myself. I wouldn't last three months.

I talked to Eva. I talked to Mark. I talked to Kathy. All of them advised me NOT to go to the bank campaign. Eva was most emphatic about it. Here's the reason: the new job involved five weeks of classroom training and two weeks of on the job training, after which I would go through another accreditation process. If I flunked that, OR if I made it but just couldn't hack the job (a much more likely scenario)....I'd quit or be let go for cause,  neither of which would allow me EI. If, however, I stayed where I was and my position was eliminated, I'd be able to take advantage of EI and all it entails.

Last Friday I had a coaching session (100%, most of them have been). I knew this might not save me. I was good at that job, but I said MOST of my assessments have been 100%. Not all.  My expressed desire to learn new roles after the Christmas rush wouldn't save me either, nor would the positive attitude often praised by my superiors. This time, believe me, I wasn't being singled out.

My quality coach told me she didn't expect the hammer to fall until January. I disagreed. Not an hour later, I was invited in to one last-ditch meeting and given the ultimatum: go to the new client or...just go.

I just went.

I can apply for EI December 21. No bravado this time: I'm doing up a resume and then giving it to them to tear apart and rebuild. Ideally I'd get a job similar to what I had -- I loved it -- but I don't think such jobs exist. I'm open to factory work. Retail is an absolute last resort. I'm pretty sure I could walk into Walmart today and have my job back there tomorrow...but i'd rather not, thank you.

I did the right thing, the same way jumping away from Walmart was the right thing to do at the time. That hasn't stopped the jitters. On the surface I'm mostly okay. Below, I can't sleep unaided.  It's a kick in the teeth, especially at this time of year. Christmas has mostly been cancelled yet again.  I know, I know, Christmas isn't about stuff, but c'mon, everybody likes to give.

I simply can not allow the depression from last time the slightest foothold. It shouldn't gain one: my life is immeasurably richer than it was four years ago, and I'm not just referring to Kathy and Jade here. I have a much wider, and deeper, social circle and I'm considerably more confident. I wouldn't have chosen this route were I not.

In every job I've worked and left, I've ended up friends with someone or someones, not always the same people I expected to. I hope that happens here, because there are some amazing walking slices of awesomeness from that room. People I already miss. Sheredean, Amanda, Chris, Jayden, of luck to all of you, and thank you for being such lovely, caring people.

One foot in front of the other.

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