Sunday, December 19, 2010

A gathering

I'm shifting gears.  Yesterday one phase of my life ended, and now another begins.  This isn't my first involuntary separation from this company, but I think it might be my last.

Yesterday I slept, took a shower, went to church, and then screwed around on the computer for a longish time before settling down to make cookies.  I decided to keep things simple and limit myself to a single type of cookie: my signature chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.  This is the basic Nestlé Toll House recipe with the addition of about two cups of "Quick" or "Minute" oatmeal and enough milk to make a workable batter.  I also added more chocolate chips to offset the dilution of the batter by the oatmeal.

Today I woke up, took a shower, ran out to Sanitary Bakery to get three assortments of pastries for the three friends I was meeting (I must make a note that one friend loves Lafayettes* and hasn't had one in years), and then filled out each box with two dozen of the cookies I made last night.  After a half-hour delay to search for one of my mom's cats who had run into the basement with his head through the handle of a plastic bag (he got it off by himself), I was on my way to meet my friends.

Our get-together left me - well, uneasy.  We all used to work together, but now are scattered; one person works for the competitor that I was blocked from joining nearly a decade ago, while another lost her job at the same time as me nearly four years ago and now works in a completely different industry.  Another still works in our old department.  We were joined by several other friends, including one who had left for the new company just before the legal agreement that put a moratorium on that company hiring employees from my now-former employer and wound up sliding into the position that was to have been mine; he has advanced up the corporate ladder in the intervening years and is doing quite well.  Another friend who met with us just lost his job in this latest cut and is looking to develop some basic (and long-overdue) computer skills.

I learned that there is vast income disparity even on a local level.  I estimate that over the years since I was initially blocked from taking a position at this competing company and the subsequent "informal" blockage that has continued since the expiration of that initial legal agreement, I have probably lost something on the order of $100,000 of potential income, as well as many hours of my life spent working overtime in a menial and exhausting position.  Factor in the utter destruction of anything that I had that might have resembled a career, a path which might have continued and blossomed and grown in the years that I have been blocked, and I'm left...well, unhappy.  I'm currently unemployed and trying to figure out how the hell to pay my bills, and other people are working on building their second homes, or even building vacation mansions that get used only once or twice a year. 

It's hard not to be bitter.  Bitterness and resentment will only get me so far, but right now I'm looking at using all of my personal skills, abilities, and resources to try to land what will probably be an entry-level position in some industry unrelated to anything I have done in the past for a fraction of the income I was making even a week ago.

So.  Tomorrow is Monday.  I should get started on my to-do list with Unemployment and CareerLink.  And continue baking cookies.  And set up my mom's digital cable boxes.  And do something about that six-inch hole in my chimney where there used to be a stovepipe.  And get busy with some Christmas cards.  And try not to focus too much on lost opportunities and lost income.

*Ummm, is this a local thing?  A Lafayette is a small, gumdrop-shaped cake, something like an upside-down cupcake, covered in raspberry sauce and sprinkled with coconut, topped with cream and a dollop of raspberry jelly.  Only I can't find any references to such things online.  Except for one, which is on the site of a cake shop owned by the wife of one of my former co-workers.

1 comment:

Linkmeister said...

Ah, yes. Careers, and what happens when the company you expected to establish one with either fails or doesn't grow as it had expected to. So you're suddenly stuck going sideways at best.

Then you look back and wonder "what if," and Satchel Paige's advice "Never look back, somebody might be gaining on you" sounds all too true.

Good luck, guy.