Friday, August 12, 2011

The Day I Was Laid Off--Draft II

See You in the Funny Papers

Have you seen my gold retirement watch? Dilbert. United Media Syndicate is where I work…I worked. I hadn’t actually planned to retire early, even with MS. It was my “Temporary Normal Job Until I Make it Big as a Playwright with the Meaningless Made Up Title of Digital Prepress Administrator” position…and I’d been at it twenty-three years. Twenty-three years of in early and out late and no lunch hours. Coming in from seventeen miles away on a cane. Neither rain nor snow nor sleet could stop me. I still wrote and was planning to store away as much money as I could before I turned 65.
April 15, 2009, So, I’m sitting at my desk, like I’d done 5,000 times before. The Work Horse. The craftsperson…a Typesetter. OK, all I was doing was e-mailing and posting comics and articles, but I knew how to do whatever needed to be done. I started to noticing that my jobs were starting to disappear, but I thought they’d all be replaced by new tasks and new programs. After all, I had guided the company through three major network setups since 1985, I was ready to do it again.
So, I’m sitting there and I sense a dark presence behind me and turn around to see five grim managers standing in a circle around my cubicle like Cheetahs in business drag. They told me to stop working and come into Debbie’s office NOW. I had no choice. They spoke of The Bottom Line and since I had told them over and over that I was thinking of Retirement sometime in the next six years, they felt comfortable letting me go now.
I was then led to a small conference room full of 6 more people about to walk the plank and was handed papers. Blah, blah, blah sign here return this and wait for that to come in the mail. They told us to stop working. Just pack up and go home. I asked if I was being paid for a full shift. They said “yes.” So, I said, “Then I am going to finish my work.” All the others had left. But I had to finish my work and make sure everything was in order. Older workers have this useless, annoying habit of wanting to finish the job.
When 4 p.m. came, I put all my things, such as they were, into a box. Including a one hundred year old putty knife that I gotten from my grandfather, a carpenter, to remind myself that I was a craftsperson. I was a typesetter, not a desktop publisher. I knew fonts and kerning and leading and…never mind. It doesn’t matter any more. That all comes with the computer nowadays and nobody reads the funny papers any more.

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