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Recession is a nine-letter word for “fear”

Next week they’re laying off at least 55 people at my workplace, maybe as many as 97. The news was announced a couple weeks ago and since then morale has been as high as the stock market. There are rumors and speculation over who will get axed, but mostly there is gallows humor and the unanswered question, “If I get fired, do I still get to go to the Christmas party?”

I’ve heard that at least one person in my department of nine people will probably be let go, maybe more. If it’s me, I hope I don’t cry, or that I can at least hold my tears until I reach the parking garage and can blow mucus into the napkins I store in my car to clean up messes like these. If it’s one of my coworkers, it will be strange and awkward and sad and I won’t know what to say or what to feel. Everyone here does their job well. There is just not enough money to pay everyone.

I read the news on my computer monitor and I know I am not alone. Citigroup is laying people off. The car industry is in trouble. Unemployment is at an unexpected high. I think of Rod who used to be a janitor, but is now a homeless tour guide. I know it will get worse before it gets better and that a new president cannot wave a magic wand and give us all unicorns to ride to work. At least not by February.

The last time there was a major stock market crash it was Black Monday, 1987 a week after my parents put their house on the market. I was just a kid then and it was not my responsibility to pay rent every month and buy food for me and two kitties. This is the first time I’ve lived through a recession where I am the one responsible for my own survival. I don’t think I have accepted how bad it will be yet. I am still living the same life I’ve always led, though I have put off buying a new TV until my old one breaks. When the massacre occurs at work a week from Wednesday and I see one of my friends, or perhaps myself, packing up personal belongings, I think it will start to sink in.

I know I will survive. I have plenty of family, most of whom I am on speaking terms with. We will support each other and prevent one another from living in the gutter and giving tours of Indianapolis. During the Great Depression my great-grandmother sold cinnamon rolls to make money and we still have the recipe. We will get by. But the future is uncertain. Perhaps the future has always been uncertain, but it’s only now that it has taken off its mask to let us stare it in the face.

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Loth • November 25, 2008 at 8:31 am

Urgh, it’s just horrible isn’t it? I really hope it’s not you and that it will be a poor co-worker who needs the sympathy. I have seen this from the other side as I run a business connected to the property market and we had to lay off lots of staff. It was just awful but had to be done – it was either lay off a few or have the business go bust and lay off everyone. No choice, but still such a hard decision.


Miche • November 25, 2008 at 9:22 am

Sooo sorry to hear about your work/co-workers’ situations. It’s bad here too. My husband was going to retire in a couple of years, but then he decided to wait until he was 67 or 68. Now we don’t know if he’ll get through another month argghhh! We are lucky too, in that we have supportive and (mostly!) loving family – we’ll get through it, but there are so many who are suffering now. I feel rather powerless to help, other than voting in this election. As you say, magic wands won’t do it, at least for a while! Hope things work out as well as possible at your office.


Miche • November 25, 2008 at 9:23 am

Sooo sorry to hear about your work/co-workers’ situations. It’s bad here too. My husband was going to retire in a couple of years, but then he decided to wait until he was 67 or 68. Now we don’t know if he’ll get through another month argghhh! We are lucky too, in that we have supportive and (mostly!) loving family – we’ll get through it, but there are so many who are suffering now. I feel rather powerless to help, other than voting in this election. As you say, magic wands won’t do it, at least for a while! Hope things work out as well as possible at your office.


Miche • November 25, 2008 at 9:25 am

Sorry about the double entry – something goofed up! Miche


Xenia • November 25, 2008 at 9:37 am

It’s a total lose-lose situation all around. Hope you’re okay. ((hugs))


Liz Turtle • November 25, 2008 at 9:49 am

Oh, PastaQueen, I fervently hope that you will still be employed come this time next week. I am crossing my fingers and toes for you.

This recession is touching so many lives. I went to my Weight Watchers meeting Sunday and asked the woman who checked me in how she was. She confessed she’d had better weeks and that she’d been laid off from her “real” job (WW is her “fun” job.) I have been in those shoes (dot-com crash, early 200s), and who’s to say I won’t be again? I guess we all need to look out for one another the best we can.


April • November 25, 2008 at 9:59 am

Ugh. So sorry to hear that this morning. It’s a lose-lose situation either way, isn’t it?

I’ve worked the last 4 years for a small construction company, managing the office, and we felt it this year with the price of oil skyrocketing no one wants to buy asphalt at that price. I am not worried about being laid off or fired but I am concerned that if business doesn’t pick up it will go bust as it’s a small business and less than 5 years old as it is.

All I can say about all of this is: crap, I hope it gets better soon.


Kalyn • November 25, 2008 at 10:00 am

So sorry to hear about this. You definitely don’t need any more stress in your life. Sending good thoughts that it will be okay for you.


Lori • November 25, 2008 at 10:04 am

I really hope that you are able to keep your job. I wish everyone could keep their jobs.

This is a hard and tough time right now. It really is only going to get a bit worse before it gets better – but it will get better.


Hide Those Cookies • November 25, 2008 at 10:32 am

How shitty to do this during the holiday season! You have the right attitude about it, but stop talking about cinnamon rolls; you’re killing me!


Jen • November 25, 2008 at 10:34 am

Maybe you can franchise the Depression Buns recipe. We might all need it!


Katie • November 25, 2008 at 10:41 am

Layoffs suck all around. Those that don’t get laid-off have ‘survivor’s guilt,’ and the office will feel like a morgue for a little while. Those that do get laid off will be forced out into a crappy job market.

I’ve been through it many times…I’ve watched friends get escorted out, and I’ve been on the receiving end twice.

Looking back, getting laid-off ended up being a great thing for me. It forced me out of my comfort zone, and now I’m at a much better company.

I hope you are still employed at the end of next week! But even if you aren’t, you have a lot of people supporting you, and you’ll be just fine :)


Merry • November 25, 2008 at 11:10 am

My company is enforcing shutdowns for three weeks this year. They probably will start layoffs soon.

I worked in Silicon Valley during the dot com craziness. Have to say, each time I’ve been laid off, I ended up in a better situation.

What doesn’t destroy me makes me stronger.

– Nietzsche

What doesn’t destroy me makes me lose weight.

– Nietzsche girlfriend (attributed)


Elise • November 25, 2008 at 11:22 am

I can’t believe everyone skipped over the most important part of your blog, which is the awesome concept of riding unicorns to work! A communicornute, if you will.


Merry • November 25, 2008 at 11:45 am

Unicorn commute, here I come :)

Actually, I think you’re in good shape here. I mean, you’re probably doing the LinkedIn stuff and updating your Dice resume and all that, but you have a wide network of friends and acquaintances already, so if you do get laid off, you’ll have a lot of people who could recommend you to a new boss.

Um… assuming anyone’s hiring… damn, this message was going in such a positive direction for awhile. I’ll stop now. Unicorns. Think unicorns.


debby • November 25, 2008 at 11:59 am

You are exactly right, PQ. “Perhaps the future has always been uncertain, but it’s only now that it has taken off its mask to let us stare it in the face.” And I also agree that most people are still living their lives exactly as they always have. But it also makes me wonder, when I see that, well, is it really going to be all that bad? Or is it just one more thing that they talk about in the news so much that it seems bigger and more important than it it?


TOWR • November 25, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Whatever happens, I know you’ll be fine. I was laid off about four years ago and it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. You’re smart and resourceful–you’ll come out on top. :)


DuchessOfDork • November 25, 2008 at 12:30 pm

I hear ya, lady. I got laid off from my job in April, due to the recession. Got rehired a week later. Then, two weeks ago, got laid off AGAIN. Luckily, got hired a week later! I’m an artist, so I have AMAZING luck finding jobs, but man, those weeks where I was unemployed were so nerve wracking. Lemme tell ya.


kyle • November 25, 2008 at 12:34 pm

You’re inspiring me to want to write a recession post about how it’s affecting Chile. My husband might lose his job too. Other than that, my life isn’t changing too much.

I hope you don’t lose your job. Although, I feel like if you do, you have a future in professional blogging. :)


Quix • November 25, 2008 at 12:52 pm

My fiance lost his job in August with one of the many massive layoffs that’s been happening in the game industry (where we both work). He’s founded a company with some other folks, which is AWESOME, but getting funding is not exactly easy (which is all they need right now).

I, however, got to keep my job through our massive axing. At first I was jealous because dammit, I really really really long for an extended break (I’ve been working, and most years a heck of a lot of OT, for the last 9 years with nothing more than a 2 week vacation), but more than that I am relieved, being that we need at least one salary to make the mortgage. :P

I hope things turn around soon. I hate living in fear that if things get crappier, we could lose our house, our new car, and have to go back to living how I did when I graduated college and was poor poor poor.


Rene • November 25, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Wow. Sorry to hear that. It is pretty much everywhere these days. My company got bought by a bigger company and they are closing this whole office sometime right after the new year. I am happy that they are at least letting us get through the holidays! I hate hoe so many companies always fo layoffs right before the holidays! On a brighter note, my lay off will be a good thing as it will allow me to find a job I am better suited for. And I believe that if you get laid off you will also find an even better job or career opportunity! And if you don’t get laid off… well, then you’re also gonna be just fine! Either way, I think you have the right attitude. You will survive and you are most certainly not alone in this! Good luck! Now… let’s all go ride some Unicorns to work! ;-)


Esmeralda • November 25, 2008 at 2:24 pm



Esmeralda • November 25, 2008 at 2:32 pm

@Elise – Word to that!


Dee • November 25, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Ugh! I hate when this happens. It is so nerve racking. I’m sorry to hear that it is happening in your workplace. I hope that everything works out, either way for you. It may take a couple of years for the economy to rebound, but it will…eventually.


Mymsie • November 25, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Oh Lord, I’m so sorry to hear this. Keep us posted!


anji • November 25, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Things like this are happening in Canada too…. if it makes you feel any better, in the last month I have more freelance webdesign work and graphic work than I can handle…. people aren’t hiring full-time workers but they are more than willing to opt for the short-term contract work… it still allows them to get stuff done but without the strings like benefits, paid coffee breaks and lunches!

I wish your company the best…. it’s going to be alright, people are reacting out of fear — i’m not saying your company is but the powers that pay them, are.

Good luck and chin up! It’s going to be okay….


Alexia • November 25, 2008 at 4:11 pm

You’re right, we will get by. And hopefully learn some stuff.

We just had layoffs. And they canceled our Christmas party, too.

Hang in there.


Ashley • November 25, 2008 at 4:27 pm

No matter what happens, view it as an opportunity.:)


PrincessDieter • November 25, 2008 at 4:54 pm

We got an early taste of it when hubby got laid off in March. Fortunately, he found a position he enjoys, but it was 2.5 months of hard search for him, resumes and interviews and uncertainty about if we’d have to move cross-country at a time when selling a house would be murder or…impossible.

We prayed a lot and stayed hopeful. And that pretty much describes us now–praying and hoping and staying thankful for the roof over our heads, the paycheck he’s getting, the family we love, and having each other to smooch.

As far as riding unicorns to work–oh, yeah, baby! Can we put that on the political green agenda. Sounds fun.

I own a print by the brilliant artist Sara Butcher where, yes, there’s a pretty fairy riding a unicorn. I thought of it reading your entry: http://www.sarabutcher.com/naturefairy-comi.html

The Princess


Lyn • November 25, 2008 at 6:10 pm

If you start selling cinnamon rolls, give me a call. I can always fit a cinnamon roll into my calorie budget…


Ang • November 25, 2008 at 6:42 pm

So, so sorry to hear that! My sister got laid off last June. It turned out to be a blessing, though, because she got a job that she enjoys much more even though it pays a little less. I hope this works out as well for you and your coworkers!


PurpleGirl • November 25, 2008 at 8:52 pm

@Elise – communicornute? Freakin hilarious.


PurpleGirl • November 25, 2008 at 8:54 pm

PQ, best of luck surviving the layoffs. Been there, done that. My mom and I both got laid off within two days of each other in May. I hope you’ll fare better!


SeaShore • November 25, 2008 at 9:43 pm

Good luck next week. Hopefully the layoffs are minimal and don’t include you.


Manic Mommy • November 25, 2008 at 10:15 pm

My husband is one of those people who has to do the laying off at his company and oh, it just sucks. Obviously not as bad for the people who are getting laid off, but I just wish it wasn’t this bad. I hope hope hope it is not you in your department.


Erin • November 26, 2008 at 6:11 pm

I was going to quit my job in January so I can concentrate on finishing my master’s and getting out of the career I hate. But now I don’t think I can because my Mother, Sister, and Brother-in-law all might lose their jobs, and I will be the one (barely) supporting them all. This is terrifying.


Theantijared • November 26, 2008 at 9:39 pm

They can’t take away your weight loss! A job can be found within a month.


Naomi • November 28, 2008 at 6:23 am

I’ve been lurking on your site for a long time and just wanted to say how sorry I am that you’re going through this. Things are tough at the magazine I work at too; my boss was in tears last week as she informed us that four of our coworkers were let go.

The good news is, I purchased your book. I hope that helps… at least somewhat.

Best of luck to you. I truly hope things turn around for you soon.


This Mama Cooks! • November 28, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Jennette, I’m keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed for you! Between your job skills, and writing your book and blog, I know something will turn up if you have to go job searching. Good luck!


Allie • November 29, 2008 at 8:39 am

I’ve been a lurker for a long, long, lonnnnnng time and also wanted to let you know that I’m really sorry about your job situation. I’m in the same boat — the Big Media Corp. I work for announced at the end of October that there were going to be big cuts come the first week of December. This has made November just a little tense at ye olde workplace. I don’t think any of us are looking forward to going to work on Monday.


Zandria • December 1, 2008 at 11:16 am

That’s very scary. I hope you’re not laid-off, but like you said, it’s still going to be horrible for a lot of people. :(


Cat • December 6, 2008 at 8:10 pm

I just got fired, from a publishing company you know well, and I sobbed like a baby. They weren’t kind enough to tell me it was because of money issues though. I wish they would have just been honest with everyone, and said, hey, we laid off two of your coworkers today, instead of saying, “so and so won’t be ‘around’ anymore, there’s going to be some restructuring” in departmental meetings while I was being given the axe.

Anyhow, I’m glad you didn’t have to deal with being layed off. It sucks, it’s terrifying, and never in my adult life have I had to experience it. I can’t even imagine where they’re hiring people who have been fired…

(I guess fired for no reason at all is just the same as being layed off, except it translates differently on paper)

Time to start working on that novel I’ve been putting off, and lining up at the free clinics and the soup kitchen. I hope it gets better. I really do.


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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