Yesterday I was laid off from my job.
Always before when I left a job it was on my own terms. This time it was on their terms. The cuts were deep and the exodus was large. One third of the workforce vanished within the last two weeks.
A co-worker walked past me, head hung low, carrying the things one takes away from a cubicle; photo of a loved one, a child’s drawing. Another was carefully folding his work life into a small cardboard box.
I first noticed the pink slip ripple when my husband lost his job in January. (Thankfully, he started in a new position Monday.) He was always a starched-white-shirt kind of guy. Suddenly, we found ourselves with almost no need for a dry cleaner. “Where is the blond woman who used to greet me?” I wondered silently during one of my rare recent visits to the cleaners.
And then came my own job-gone yesterday. Today I laid off our nanny and the couple who clean our house. The nanny, a self proclaimed Starbucks addict will probably make fewer trips to that “third place.” The cleaning couple will no doubt make cuts of their own.
And the pink slip ripple continues.
All those little things we do without thinking: starching shirts, asking for a drawing to hang in a cubicle, going to drive-throughs for latte. And then you don’t do them any more.
I was thinking of an old woman today who ran a tiny business in a tiny town long ago. People would come there to buy things, but also to talk, to be together, and she had that feeling of being someplace. And when she left, she lost that feeling.
We aren’t just losing jobs. We’re breaking apart communities.
We can move them to the Web, where you can forget the dry cleaner and wear a mu-mu if you feel like it, and we can post kid art on facebook, and if we get enough people to follow our tweets there will be advertising–so we won’t have to give up That Place entirely. But I’ll probably forget the drive-through.
I’ll want to go into a warm, cozy place, see real people, look them in the eye — sans iChat — and say hi.
Thanks for your comments Mary Alice. I thought about how our communities have moved to the web on inauguration day. I was sitting in my office, watching the historic event unfold on my computer, listening with head phones while sharing a discussion with friends on Facebook. Many of those friends were thousands of miles away. Although co-workers were all around me, I was completely alone in the experience except for the company of my friends on Facebook. (Thanks CNN.) In another time and place there would have been a TV set on and people would have huddled around it and watched together.
And you were connectig with like-minded people, to boot.
Talk about another time and place …
My 15-year-old nephew attended the same event with his class. Armed with a camera, he shot footage of the inauguration, various meetings with dignitaries, stand-ups with folks in the crowd, then edited into a cool package that was broadcast on his school’s newscast. Oh, yeah, and I saw it on YouTube.
Long live citizen journalism!
What a week, Mary Ellen! Yesterdays at 67 are computer virus / Cruzer Micro, pinched nerve, more Advil, maybe a phone call. Tomorrows are no computers, Adavan, no calls, no visits. Community is ever changing. Can’t wait for the final change … now that will be community!!! And Jesus … wow!
Hope things go better for you today and thanks for commenting Mary Ann.