bunt sign

Thursday, December 5, 2002

I'm not a big fan of the business section of the paper. For one thing, I don't get it. I don't understand market trends, productivity rates, mergers and acquisitions. In the privacy of my own (home) office, I find my eyes glazing over when I look at the numbers on the very spreadsheets I produce. Assets and liabilities I sort of get, but "depreciation" and "accrual" might just as well be "carburetor" and "transmission" for all I understand them.

When I read about companies downsizing and employees in tens of thousands being laid off, I'm moved, even angered that events and circumstances have brought us to the point where this kind of news is accepted without outrage. There should be a national movement to prevent these things from happening. Somebody should do something, but I have no idea who or what.

On the other hand, when it's someone I know, even a little bit, who loses a job because of economic conditions, I take it personally. I still don't know what to do, though.

When I read on the very front page of this morning's paper, across several columns, of the impending bankruptcy of United Airlines, it reminds me how close to home it can hit. And it doesn't affect only those laid off. United is one of the Bay Area's big employers. When I worked in the mall next to the airport, a lot of our customers were United employees and their families.

If I still worked at that shoe store, my own income and even my job would be threatened by a big airline layoff. If I have no income, a lot of other people suffer as well. Soon there are more companies, big and small, forced to downsize. It sounds so cold, when what it really means is that families are thrown in turmoil and people no longer have what they need to get by.

You don't have to understand the business section to get this concept, when real faces are substituted for the raw statistics. And unless we can figure out how to stop it, it's coming to get us all, like a river of sludge. It might get your neighbor before it gets you, or the other way around. There seem to be a few people unaffected by all this, but I don't know any of them. Maybe they have the answers that elude me.


Looking across the back yard at the house, in early morning sunlight.

There was a time when I was laid off, and it was due to financial problems with the company. (To be fair, a tiny percentage of those problems was the result of my own lack of management skills.) I know how it feels to be fired, even though the impact was lessened by the fact that I wasn't supporting a family with my income. I was on my own both before and after the fact.

Still, I know how it feels, but I also know how it feels to be welcomed back home by my parents for the seven and a half months I drifted in and out of work. I'm one lucky (and grateful) guy. I'm also lucky (and grateful, and slightly overwhelmed) to have had the same job for over sixteen years.

previousbunt signemailnext

Latest recommendations:

Alvin, Water Lilly Alley, December 5, RCFB Man and The Great DVD

Lynda, her life in a nutshell, December 5, 10 Simple Tips for a Safe and Happy Snowed-In Experience

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Intermediator
"But when my landlord knocks on my door (as he did today) and says, 'Were you thinking about sending the rent check?', I get rattled."

Two years ago: Days in the Maze
"There are worse (and colder) ways to end a Tuesday night."

Subscribe to the notify list to be advised when this site is updated.

And when money talks for the very last time
And nobody walks a step behind
When there's only one race and that's mankind
Then we shall be free