On Being Laid-off

by admin on February 4, 2009

There's an epic thread over at the B4Print forum about how the current crisis is affecting prepress shops around the world. I would read it, it gives you a great overview of what's happening out there. Or maybe not-so-great, if you get what I'm saying.

Now there are few topics in this world about which I can speak knowledgeably because of great experience. One is prepress. Another is living without a job.  I was laid off from Creo in November of 2004, having been a survivor of three (or was it four?) previous rounds of layoffs.  My second child was 5 months old. My wife and I had just bought a house about a year before.

Was it a shock? I didn't think so at the time:  The layoff wasn't entirely a surprise because not only was I fighting over stuff with my direct superior, but HIS superior too.  Not that it mattered much in the end, as six months went by and my sup got whacked too.  Come to think of it, both Amos and Mark (Dance, the COO) had to take a walk as well around that time too.

Great, now what the point I was trying to make? Oh yeah, guess what, I still don't have a job. It's been more than 4 years. And  we had another kid  in the meantime (that's makes three). And we still have the house. How'd we do that? I'll let a quote from Robert Heinlein explain:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Before I was laid off I was a project manager in the product development group of Creo products. I created Gantt charts. I manipulated spreadsheets. I wrote emails outlining product feature requests. I gave good meeting. After I was laid off:

  1. I painted apartments blocks in downtown Vancouver.
  2. Dug and planted a fence around my house.
  3. Started blogging and quit blogging (wish I had kept it up)
  4. Worked on requirements project for the Vancouver Olympic website.
  5. Worked on a business continuity plan for a top 100 corporation in British Columbia.
  6. Built a website.
  7. Edited technical documents.
  8. Advised a public organization on their website requirements and told them not to buy a $100K package from a vendor (it was a gouge)
  9. Built a stairway in my house (do not take this job on lightly)
  10. Bought a car on Ebay. Failed to flip car for a profit.
  11. Business analysis of a print shop in Vancouver
  12. Bought a minivan from a friend that's was his wife's corporate vehicle. I just had to buy the lease. It was a steal.
  13. Worked at an accountant's office for 3 months doing personal and corporate tax returns.
  14. Built more websites. Learned wordpress and whole lot of other webmaster stuff.
  15. Started blogging again.
  16. Took on a system administrator role at another print shop
  17. Built Ebay affiliate websites
  18. Babysat some of the neighbors kids for money while looking after my own.

It would be also proper to mention that I have a wonderful canny wife who herself has figured out a dozen ways to turn a buck: Nanny (good rates in metro Vancouver as many working couples are desperate for childcare); bringing in international students and charging room and board; building stone mosaics for people's front lawns; letter-carrier for Canada; all the while having and raising three kids.

Did I ever look for a normal full-time job? Sure, I  went through a WHOLE bunch of interviews for various professional positions such project manager and product manager but never got the ticket punched. Some of the encounters were heart-breaking and some were just hilarious, but I'll serve up those memories in another post.

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