Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Buddy Blog: Unemployment Haiku Weekly

Did you ever think that your layoff was haiku-worthy? Like me, you probably never thought about it, but there are a pair of bloggers that create some very funny single-frame cartoons with haikus that are all about being unemployed. Their site is called Unemployment Haiku Weekly - using the classic 5-7-5 form of Japanese haiku, and mixing it with some rather irreverent humor! Definitely worth a visit...

Unemployment Haiku Weekly

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Story 5: A Layoff A Day...

By: Pink Lady, San Francisco, CA

Soon after my layoff I went to the doctor for my yearly checkup. I only have COBRA for a few weeks, so why not get it over with? When I filled my doctor in the latest news, she considered for a moment and then told me this story...

"You know, back in the days of the dot-com bubble, about eight years ago I guess, I had a lot of patients coming to me with stomach issues. I mean, a lot of patients... It seemed like I was diagnosing IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) at least three or four times a day, and refering others for more internal exams for possible ulcers.

Then, the bubble burst and the layoffs started to happen. All at once, the IBS and other issues seemed to fade away. It was all the stress and craziness going on in that economy that had created all of these stomach issues, and once it was over, all of that was gone.

I even had one of these patients tell me that she thought getting laid off was the best thing for her health. I remember her saying to me: 'I think getting laid off has actually saved me from myself.' "

Monday, February 23, 2009

Buddy Blog: Letters to Your Former Employer

Did you ever just want to give your boss a piece of your mind? Well, read the blog called Letters to Your Former Employer - you'll get just the dose of employee-on-boss vitriol you'd love to say in person, without actually saying it in person. Letters are wildly funny, uncouth, and odd - just like the site mascot Mr. Burns.

Letters to Your Former Employer

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Story 4: Laid Off, Just in Time

By: No Regrets, Burlingame, CA

Two and a half years ago when I interviewed for my former position as Executive Assistant at a chemical company, my interview premise was "when the recession comes I want to be in a stable company, that won't be imminently affected". So they were affected, but only their cash flow due to their extended credit line, as banks faltered. As the years went by, I grew tired of the personalities: the chauvinism, the egos, the power plays, the paranoia, the overstressed CEO who had recently started to turn a bright shade of red on a daily basis, and Jekyll and Hyde.

It must have shown. I knew too much to be fired outright. But, I didn't have time to look for another job since I was engaged in physical therapy daily due to an injury I had sustained. I knew I would have to eventually be laid off so I begun to speak with HR about lack of work and the Executives being extremely self sufficient. I wanted out of the bad karma that was now making every day at work torture.

So that day came in a vengeful way: I was laid off my first day back at work after a 3 week vacation, stating my position was being eliminated. Was I asking for it by deciding to take the 3 week vacation, the answer is yes. The good news... the vacation brought about an engagement ring, so nothing could have been sweeter than being laid off, just in time.

No regrets.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oddity: Pink Slip iPhone App

Yes, you read that title correctly. When this came up in my search results I couldn't believe it - I thought it must surely be a joke. Alas, too true. The product description states that this app is meant to help the user "1) how to prepare if you hear the proverbial footsteps outside your door; (2) how to handle the "pink-slip moment" if it happens to you; and (3) how to pick up the pieces afterwards. We hope you'll find these strategies helpful to have at the ready -- but never actually needed!"

Great. Download this app so you can live in fear with a daily reminder of impending doom. I've heard of some bad ideas but this is ridiculous! Oh, and did I mention you have to pay for it?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Buddy Blog: Miss Pink Slip*

Yet another fabulous blogger with a pink-ish slant: Miss Pink Slip* is written by Amy in Atlanta, GA, who bills herself as someone who has a "kick-ass resume and nowhere to go Monday-Friday from 9 to 5." This site site was meant to "give unemployment a sense of humor..."

And for Being Pink, that's rule #1!

Miss Pink Slip*

Buddy Blog: Little Miss Pink Slip

A reader just forwarded me a link to a blog entitled Little Miss Pink Slip. It's a blog by Abi, a woman in South Carolina who was also recently laid off. Her entire blog is devoted to her story and I, for one, will be staying tuned to see what happens!

Little Miss Pink Slip

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Story 3: Trying My Hardest to Suppress a Smile

By: Kate Logan Fulford, Portland, OR

My layoff was not recent…this was back in 2001. Right before 9/11 changed everything.
My marketing career was thriving. I was making great money in the “new economy” and spending the majority of it on San Francisco rent, shoes and clothes. Oh yeah, and drinks too! I was having a ball – driving my brand new convertible around town, wearing colorful scarves and gigantic sunglasses.

However, my job as a Project Manager for Sapient was getting a little old. I had been called in to “train” technical PMs in London on how to manage creatives (my specialty). Instead – it was an ugly rescue mission that – like Michael Jackson – had us working day and night. When I came back - I knew I needed a change. So I created a wonderful job for myself in the Learning & Development dept as a “Team Guru”. I was the only person in the department who had actually worked on a project – so I felt I was really adding value. Though I sometimes felt inadequate amongst my academic, Phd-type colleagues.

A couple months into my job, happy as a clam and learning like mad, I decided to move into a larger (more expensive!) apartment. As I was preparing to sign the lease – my supervisor felt the need to express her concern about pending layoffs. She had heard that our department would be affected.

I freaked out. Holy Crap! What would I do? One part of my brain was kicking myself for switching to a “disposable” department. The other was just worried about how I would make ends meet. How would I pay rent? My car payment? What if I couldn’t go shopping???

I had a whole week to fret with this insider info.

By the end of the week, I had so made peace with the potential outcome – that I began to worry about what would happen if I was NOT laid off! Why? Because I had already felt the sweet taste of the freedom to reinvent myself. I realized I could do anything. I could go back to school. I could work in a new field, as I had just made a significant change. I could even start my own business - something I had always wanted to do.

And while I can’t recall the exact details of that HR meeting – I think I was trying my hardest to suppress a smile. While I had an incredible experience with the company – and would miss my friends and colleagues – I had already decided that I would no longer be a victim of layoff– because I was going to open my own boutique. It was time to put all those shopping skills to good use.

Many of you know that boutique to be ooma – in North Beach. I’ve since sold the business, had a baby, and moved to Portland – where I’m researching where I’ll open my next boutique….

Story 2: "My Turn?"

By: 5 Months Along

We knew it was coming, but I never thought it would be me. Let me reiterate that, I NEVER in a million years thought it would be me. In the retail industry, layoffs were inevitable. But I had been with the company for almost 5 years and my fellow employees and I always joked "they don't pay me enough to lay me off." Apparently they do.

With the closing of several warehouses and call centers, the rumors started that the corporate office would be next. But somehow I thought our little brand (though it loses money for the company each year) would be impervious to the layoffs. We just seemed to do our own little thing and I thought they would never hit us.

But the rumors kept flying. And more doors were closing for meetings. HR threw an all-day "team-building meeting" which obviously turned out to be a "here's how we're going to layoff 20% of the workforce meeting." That meeting took place right outside my office. Who knew?
People started to take their personal items home over the course of two weeks. I thought that was so silly. Why would you prepare yourself like that? People started buying as much stuff as they could with their discounts assuming they would be laid off and would lose their corporate discount card. Not me...I just never thought it would happen to me!

So the big day finally came and needless to say, no one got any work done. My boss had been feeling like he was going to be laid off. He was at peace with it. I was not! The only reason why I had taken this job was because of him, and I couldn't imagine working there without him. My mom was in town and I was heading out to lunch with her (again, why did I need to stick around- I wasn't planning on getting laid off, remember?). She came in to the office and said hi to my boss and he even told her he thought his days were numbered....ugh, it was killing me.

So I get back from lunch and the slaughter began. First my designer...but I could rationalize he'd been with the company for 10 years (a big salary risk I assumed) and we were planning to move to more offline developments anyway. The an hour later, a buyer on my team gets hit (she was one of the big spenders taking advantage of her discount in weeks prior), then my boss. Ugh, the agony. Watching him pack up his office. I cried, but he assured me it was a good thing. Time for change. He assured me we would talk soon. Ugh. I called my husband in tears- "how can this be happening? I only took this job because of my will I manage without him? How am I the most senior person left on this team?!" Apparently that seniority wasn't going to last much longer.

My phone rang and I saw my VP's name come across the caller ID. I answered calmly "My turn?" I walked to his office with my head held high, assuming he was going to explain to me what kind of restructuring was taking place and what my role in that would be. Even seeing him in his office with an HR rep didn't tip me off that my career there was about to end. But alas, within moments he explained to me my position was being eliminated and walked me through the pages and pages of paperwork that I was going to have to sign in the next few days/weeks. Needless to say, I couldn't process any of it. I was five months pregnant and just lost my job and my maternity leave! In the "care package" was some information about the job placement company they were working with to help us in this transitional period. I laughed "Yeah, 'cause there are a ton of people out there dying to hire a five month pregnant chick." My sarcasm was not well received by the guy who had to layoff 50 people on his 40th birthday, nor the HR chick.

Oh well.

So off I went, escorted by HR, to my office to pack up my things. My assistant came with me to help and lament. With HR looming, I asked my assistant to follow up with someone upstairs about having some signage made for one of our collections and HR said "really, you don't need to worry about that." Come to find out, the chick who would have made those signs had been laid off too!

The phone rang and it was my boss:
"Hey, I told you we'd talk soon!"
"I just got laid off."
"Shut up! Seriously?"
"Yeah, HR is in my office right now, can I call you back?"

On my way home that day, I called my husband "Love, I just got laid off," I explained, kind of laughing. He said "Let me get this straight, you called me 20 minutes ago in tears because your boss got laid off, now you call me laughing to explain you got laid off?"

Shock works in funny ways, doesn't it?

But every story has a happy ending, and mine is no different. Now I get to focus on growing a baby, lunching with the ladies, and traveling the country to see friends and family before the baby arrives. So I lost my income? What can you do about it? Blog, I guess....

Story 1: "Am I Losing My Job Right Now?"

By: Pink Lady, San Francisco, CA

We knew it was coming. EVERYONE knew it was coming. My office that was always full of fun, hard work, and creativity had been sullen since about Thanksgiving. Office doors that usually stood wide open for impromptu meetings, discussions, and ideas, were closed. It’s amazing what closed doors will do for air-flow; all the vibrancy soon dissipated leaving quietude and sacred privacy in its place. It wasn’t that no one was home, they were there, we knew they were there, but they were talking about us. Talking behind closed doors so no one would know, but we all knew.

I did not think it would be me though. So much so that superstitiously I thought that it would be bad luck to start bringing home my personal books and files. Why would I do that? They can’t fire me – I’m the only one who does my job for two whole brands! Letting me go would be foolish, obviously, and anyone could see that.

My boss was rapacious and vivacious. Her bubbly approachability belied a cutthroat ambition that would rear up in some unsavory ways in meetings with other brands and business partners. The carefully stylish wardrobe, expensive shoes, and weekly manicures were an effective disguise. No, the grooming was not always perfect, but you got the picture anyways. Her conference calls were shouted over the phone, and team members were summoned with yells from her office down the hall. The voice usually arrived ahead of the person and if it didn’t, it snuck upon you in a grating jump up your spine. To package such a loud, affected youthfulness in such expensive sophistication was annoying at best and cloying always.

The moment I saw my boss’ name pop up on the caller ID screen of my phone I knew. Why would she call me and ask me to come to her office when usually a bellow was sufficient?
I walked down the hallway to her office door. Turning the corner I saw my boss standing at close range with an HR generalist standing next to her. They were both standing, waiting for me expectantly. It was completely unnatural. I looked at both of them suspiciously from the hallway…

“Am I losing my job right now?” I asked incredulously. This was met by shrieks of nervous chatter: “Come in! Sit down! Come in! Sit down!”

My arm was suddenly being guided forward and I was placed in the open chair – the chair I had sat in so many times for meetings, discussions, and reviews. I think if they could have tied me into the chair they would have. There seemed to be a great importance involved in getting me into the chair. I was in the chair, the door was shut, and I was surrounded.

My boss went into her corporate-approved, state-mandated spiel about how this was a necessary workforce reduction, etc, and that she had been forced to reduce staffing to 2003 levels. I knew this was bullshit – neither one of my brands were even in existence in 2003, so if that were true then everyone would be gone.

Her speech was so rehearsed and monotonous you could barely distinguish one word from the next. I realized then that this was why she was in a meeting all day the day before: to learn how to fire me from my job. For a few moments I looked up from the documents in front of me to look in her face. Her eyes were dead focused on me, watching me, and they were completely dilated black. “My God,” I thought, “She’s a Stepford Wife!”

Since the eyes were too much to take, I looked back down to the documents and began following her finger across the text, only to notice how desperately she needed a manicure. Her nails were overgrown and yellowing. In that moment I realized that this one thing would be what I’d remember the most about the meeting, and with no little schadenfreude I thought how horrified she would be to know that.

Almost as soon as it started, the meeting was over. My former boss offered to call me a cab, then she offered it again a few minutes later. She followed me out to my desk with an empty box saying that she’d pack up my things and send them to me. The thought of my boss going through my desk made me want to throw up, but I let it go. I requested that she be sure to send my plant along too, she agreed, and offered again to call me a taxi.

“No thanks. I think I’ll walk.”

Why This Blog, Why This Subject?

"Being Pink" - refers to being in a state of "pink", or of having recently received one's "pink slip" - a proverbial pink paper that indicates one has been laid off from a company.

"I just got laid off..." That was the text I sent to one of my close friends when I invited her to come and meet me for a vodka at eleven a.m. on a Wednesday; she had responded to the invitation with more than a little shock and concern at this uncharacteristic martini lunch, but those five words were all I needed to say. All at once, friends did show up to drink with me in the middle of the working day, to dry tears, laugh, encourage, and share their own layoff stories.

More than those that came the bar were those sending messages via phone calls, emails, texts, Twitter tweets, and comments on my blog. Friends near and far were calling me with words of support, love, and laughter - there was always the odd in-joke, snappy zinger against old employers, and the relieved chuckle that bubbled up even as emotions were raw. It was everyone else's stories that were making the difference to me.

That evening I was spent. I returned home worn out with emotion, a little bit tipsy, and craving macaroni and cheese. But even as I curled up on my own couch I started to think about the stories I'd heard. They were good stories, and every single one of them had a great ending. The person that had been laid off went on to bigger and better things for themselves, had learned their self-worth, and become closer to their own professional ideal in some way. Some went on to other companies, some got re-hired at the companies that had laid them off in the first place, and some had eschewed the whole traditional "working world" for academia, art, or entrepreneurship and were all the more happier.

Over the past weeks I've been trying to think of a way to gather these stories together in one place. The layoff stories. Not just from the employee's point of view, but also the manager, the HR person, the business partner, and especially those that weren't laid off - the survivors. Everyone has a take and they're all interesting, insightful, shocking, and redemptive all at once.

This collection of stories about "Being Pink" will de-mystify an increasingly common event in our time, while they will show that life does indeed move on, usually in a far better way than that old job would allow!

Do you have a story to tell? Please email us: