By the time Mary had taken over, she had brought in other people. Mary loves to gather people and accumulate possessions (more computers, more disks, more, more, more)...it's just she doesn't actually do much with those possessions. She doesn't actually know how to run the test systems we have.
Greg - disgruntled, no longer leaving programmer like me.
Jim - contractor, who retired from the Mega-lo-corp in 1999 after 30 years and came back as a contractor and has been working contract since then. Gravy on top of the Gravy!
Yee - a smart guy.
Randy - a smart guy.
And then one morning, a friend of mine popped up an internal chat window and said, "Have you heard they're having layoffs?"
And then my manager's chat window popped up.
He said, "Hey Johnny, I'm going to have to skip our 1-on-1 meeting"
I replied, "Hey, okay. I didn't get laid off did I?"
He replied, "No, you're good. But....I have to talk to some other people right now."
And Greg got laid off instead of me.
A little back story. Two months previously, we reported extremely bad quarterly numbers. I was on internal chat with my Guardian Angel Manager and she said on chat, "Well, I'm about to go into a meeting to see if I still have a job."
I said, "No way. They're not going to fire a VP over one bad quarter."
She told me all the executives were being lined up for a big meeting where they were going to get verbally spanked. Someone had made a decision on a product 18 months before (where we technical folks who were trying to roll it out said - you have got to be kidding. This thing SUCKS.). Well, it sucked. And the numbers confirmed it.
So when the layoffs were occurring I got the Guardian Angel Manager on chat and said, "Are these layoffs a result of the spanking you execs took about 2 months ago?"
She replied, "Yup. Hey, you looking for a job? I need someone like you."
So, I started having conversations with her. We had lunch together (we get together every few months for lunch anyway).
Now, some of you might wonder, "Wait. If you take a job elsewhere, can't they call back Greg from layoffs?"
Nope. I used to wonder that as well. I mean if the goal is to reduce your department by 1 (our department got hit by a 20% reduction) and you lay off 1 but you lose 1 to an internal job change, can't you pull that 1 person back?
No (typically) for a few reasons (that Guardian Angel Manager explained to me many, many years ago):
that person was designated as expendable from a business and legal perspective. Lawyers have to vet the names that are on the layoff list. If you suddenly changed your mind, you have lots of 'splaining to do.
- the person who gets called back is now bitter that they were deemed expendable. They you get a grouchy, embittered person.
- or you get a nervous nellie who thinks they 're going to be targets of the next layoffs and spend all their time looking for other jobs rather than doing their real job.
So.....with Greg it was awkward. Understandably he was pissed off and gave the Mega-lo-corp the (mental) middle finger. He said to me, "Hey, I'll help you and Jim out any way I can. But the rest of the company can kiss my ass." But it was more. He would "look" at his situation and say:
- They kept the contractor and laid ME off. I've given over 20 years to this company. Jim (the contractor) already retired once. There's no loyalty given.
- I've been working this project over 4 years and the keep the newbie (Johnny) and dump me. How the hell does that make sense?
And this is where my looking for a new job is sorta stabbing my bud in the back. He excluded me from the layoff list. But I am still looking to leave him.
Some days, when something stupid happened or when I made a dumb remark, Greg would say to me and Jim, and they're firing ME?!?
And I just had to keep my mouth shut.
Later, when I finally told Greg I was leaving because I couldn't take Mary anymore. He totally understood. But he was also doing the calculus in the head that if I had found the new job earlier, maybe he would have been spared the layoff.
But this was a particularly brutal layoff. First, the managers were given a relatively short window to decide who stayed and who went. Typically, they are given a few months and time to coordinate manager-to-manager. This time, they had 3 weeks. I spent a lot of time consoling people who would reach me on internal chat and say, "What is going on? This is crazy!" By crazy they meant that really good, qualified people were being let go along with the typical lower rated programmers. I know several people who lost their officemates. They would both be working in the same department on the same project and the manager laid off their officemate (and most times their friend) and spared them. That was a gut-punch to the survivors. Why me? Was the question everyone was asking themselves. I saw very distinguished engineers and high ranking managers get let go, yet some idiot manager or boob of a programmer was left behind. That's what freaked out people this time, the list of people cut didn't make sense.
And then, a month later Greg was gone. A few weeks after that, I was having a lunch with my Guardian Angel Manager, still thinking through if I wanted to go work for her. This is a very, very different area. I was very nervous because I thought there was a chance I might fail in that area and then Guardian Angel Manager would have to lay me off the next cut. And then she said, "I just found out 30 minutes ago that all contractors have to be cut in the next two weeks. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't have let you know. But you have to know that the technical folks are getting shrunk." I promised to keep my mouth shut.
The next Monday, after a meeting, Ted asked Andy, Mary and I to stay behind. He closed the door and said, "I just found out this morning that all contractors in our area have to be cut. They will be cut in 10 days. Try to wrap things up with them. But, you CAN NOT tell them they are being cut. Get as much as you can out of them before their company tells them."
And now I had to work next to Jim knowing that he was getting cut. And Mary, being Mary, went a bit bonkers (she was still team lead then) and started sending frantic notes to Jim demanding that he test and provide results for her "50 things against the wall" list of things to test. And Jim, not knowing what was going on, would reply, "I'll get to them. But I have bigger fish - that you agreed had to be resolved first - to fry." (also this was our policy of ignoring her crazy and doing the right thing).
And 24 hours before his cut date, his company finally told him he was getting cut in 24 hours.
Now just me and two junior engineers and crazy Mary.
And a few weeks after that, we had an all hands meeting. On the phone, there was an HR person along with a 3rd tier manager. They announced we were having a furlough. Some people who I've said "furlough" do not understand what that means. It means an unpaid vacation. You sit at home. You don't come into work. You don't get paid. And hopefully, the company calls you back to your job and it's like you were on a vacation, but your paycheck shows you got no pay during that time off.
We were given 30% pay during our furlough. We don't know why. I asked my manager and he didn't know why. I think everyone was so grateful that they kept their mouth shut.
And during the furlough, I said, "Okay. That's enough." I'm going to Guardian Angel Manager's area (she had to sit out during the furlough as well). Her selling point was that if the bottom fell out, the new job had many more contacts outside of Mega-lo-corp and would help enhance my resume and job prospects.
Besides the whole crazy-Mary part, it's also been a bit stressful.