Over the last several years, I’ve worked in a technical support call center. During my time there, I have been both a member of the team and a member of its management. I experienced the joys of triumph and the bitter sting of defeat; and the folks I’ve worked with — both above and below my pay grade — have become a second family… Once I thought and hoped it would always be there, long after I left. All that changed last week.
Last Tuesday started off like every other day on the job, but it ended in the radical transformation of everyone in our facility and beyond. Early on we knew that there were going to be some layoffs, but we had no idea exactly how sweeping it would be. So, we spent much of the day worried and heartbroken for those we knew were loosing their jobs.
Near the end of my shift, I was called into the conference room. What happened changed my perception of the job and the company that I’ve been employed by for so long.
When I arrived in the conference room, I found myself facing our departmental manager, a member of corporate human resources, and the vice president of our company. The human resources representative was holding an envelope with my name on it. So, I knew what was coming. I was being laid off; and, seeing a large stack of similar envelopes beside her, I knew I wasn’t going to be the only one.
As the human resources representative went through her speech, the three of them had a very somber and sad look on their faces. When she finished, I smiled at my manager. He looked puzzled at first; but, when he thought back to a conversation we had the week before, he knew why I was smiling. I told the trio not to worry about me. I was leaving in July anyway to start a new life. My only concern was that they were going to treat my team right.
As the next twenty-four hours progressed, it was obvious that the layoffs were going to be more wide-spread than even I anticipated. As the situation came into focus, we learned that most of the facility was going to be laid off — as well as the entirety of several other facilities. One by one, I watched as members of my team — my family — came out of the conference room with an envelope in their hand and tears in their eyes. Each time I saw their heartbroken looks, my own heart broke a little more.
Over the next several days, the mood in our team went from anger to sadness to depression to utter resignation. There had been no warning. None of us seen it coming. People who had worked for our company for decades — some of them coming to our company right out of high school — found themselves without a method of supporting themselves.
The company gave our people relatively generous terms, which was nice; but I still found myself angry. I wasn’t angry for my job. After all, I was already planning on leaving. I was angry for those who were left behind. Some had kids. Some had mortgages. Some had families to feed. Suddenly, all of their abilities to handle all of those circumstances were being called into question. I was angry for the feelings of worthlessness that the move would ultimately create. With the single stroke of a pen, dozens and dozens of “human assets” (I would later find out there were hundreds) were no longer of value and they were cast out.
In the end, I was left wondering how corporate executives sleep at night. I was left wonderful how anyone — anyone with even the least little bit of human soul — could hurt people or devastate their lives in such a detached manner. If we truly live in a world where business interests and profits are more important than human dignity and the pain inflicted on others, then I’m overjoyed that it is a world that I will no longer have to concern myself with.
I am truly grateful, and I will pray for all those who I will be leaving behind.