The Downsized Diaries

My journey to my next career.

Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

Buy Your Own Rolex

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I posted earlier about not making it to my 25th anniversary with my company, and not getting a lavish lunch and stainless steel Rolex such as they used to do back in the day. Not sure if they still do this even.

As I was driving in for my exit interview, the thought came to me:

You can buy your own Rolex.

I took this celestial news flash as a metaphor, not a literal command. (My family reads this blog, they’d have had me on speed dial by the time you read this.) It’s just that, more and more in life, I learn I cannot look outside myself for: validation, recognition, approval, rewards, et al.

Years ago one of my wonderful IBM mentors, Ms. Cheryl Buckner, shared this mantra with me (based on the infamous Bartles & James wine coolers commercial) :

“Sometimes,I have to go buy my own Bartles & James and thank me for my support.”

So if I can share this one thing with those out there who are smarting from the sting of a layoff: Go find a way to thank you for your support. Of your team, company, agency, plant, whatever.

Buy your own Rolex.

EDITOR’s NOTE: Mine will be white gold with diamonds and the Havana jubiliee face, thank you very much. One day…one day.

Written by Krista Summitt

January 24, 2009 at 1:33 pm

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Separation Meeting Scheduled

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(l-r) Skip Johnson, me, Kenny Wicks, 1993

(l-r) Skip Johnson, me, Kenny Wicks, 1993

First of all, no, I didn’t get a weave.

I call this the “My Two Dads” shot. This photo is from a dear friend,colleague,and mentor, Ken Wicks’, IBM 25th anniversary luncheon in Chicago, atop the Standard Oil building. Ah those were the days.  I had attended the other guy’s, my manger Skip Johnson’s, 25th anniversary luncheon a year or so prior.  (Skip passed away in 2005.)

What’s with the nostalgia, you ask?

I’m scheduled for my official separation meeting on January 12 now. Yep. Even though I knew it was coming, the fact I have a meeting scheduled on the calendar crystalizes it in my mind.They offered me the option to meet off-site, but I want to go in.

I’m not trying to be dramatic or wallow in self-pity. I’m just coming to real grips with this. I mean, I’ve never been a job-hopper, I’m intelligent, I have a well-honed midwestern work ethic, I’m creative,good looking(hey had to break the list up somehow).

Doesn’t matter now.

I’m not bragging when I say it will cost more to teach someone what I and so many others like me have achieved the last 20 years than it would to keep us. Brain trust is not valued, it seems.

I want to let you in on a little secret: Laying people off won’t solve these companies’ problems.  It won’t.  Oh it makes good press. ” Spacely Sprockets slashes X jobs! We took swift action! We are slashing costs.”  Skip used to use the expression “They’re not moving the car forward, they’re just backstage pulling the curtain making the scenery go faster.” (think old Hollywood road movies)

Doesn’t matter now.

I’d imagined having a 25 year dinner in the future too, IBM-style, with all my friends and family…stainless steel Rolex (Do they still do that?) 5 more years after that, retire and start the rest of my life.  Indeed the times they are a-changin’, Mr. Dylan. Indeed.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’. –Bob Dylan, 1963

Written by Krista Summitt

January 7, 2009 at 10:40 am

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The Experience of Being Laid Off

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“From this point on/it only gets rougher” –Andre 3000

Everything looked red.

That’s what I’ll remember about the day I got laid off, November 13, 2008. Not like angry “seeing red”, but more like “this is surreal” red.  “Spike Lee cinematography by Ernest Dickerson red.” My bosses face, the table, the conference room, everything.  I don’t know why.  It just did. In my mind it didn’t happen word by word, but all at once, like an experiential stream of consciousness. Like when they fast-forward a scene in CSI or something.

My next thought was,  “do I have to carry this big exit package of information out of here? Everyone will know I go it.”  I opted to take the long way back to my desk, hugging the wall.  Made it undetected and put the package into my briefcase.

For those of you wondering, I’m not out in the cold just yet. I have 60 days to find something else. I will get severance. There’s an outplacement service available.

I didn’t start this blog for pity or vitriol. I’ve been blessed to never have been laid off before now, so believe me I’m not complaining. I figure it will help those on the outside looking in understand what the process is like. Most of all it will be cathartic for me.

Written by Krista Summitt

November 15, 2008 at 11:39 pm