On survival guilt

I was spared. Today. Who knows about tomorrow. But for the moment, I still have a job.

Things happened today I did not expect. There were people who lost their jobs today who I would never have worried about. There were people who lost their jobs today who I worried about, and who really needed their jobs.

Today was a day of crying, of worrying, of comforting friends. Today was a day of wondering why, worrying how we’ll muddle through if we’re on the wrong side of 1,400, and whether we’ll be on the wrong side of 5,000 over the next eighteen months.

Today was also a day where I read about a former coworker who lost her job. She’d been at the company a few years longer than me, and she was chosen by a local paper as a representative of those of us going through everything above. No, she was a represententative of those who, in addition to everything above, was on the wrong side of 1,400.

Microsoft is a huge company, and the veriety of experiences and life situations is enormous. There are people like I was just a few years ago–single, without loans, a renter, early in their careers. There are people like I am now–married, with car loans, mortgages, responsibilities, and not nearly the resources to shrug off a sudden paycheck cut. There are people like many coworkers–responsible for a family, not only for a mortgage, but also the care and feeding of children, saving for their future, and the health insurance that helps ensure they will have a future. And there are people in so many other situations–100,000 or so, all unique.

Today, the Seattle PI covered the story of a woman who lost her job at Microsoft. She is not a millionaire, nor is she much different than the rest of us, though of course she has her own circumstances that none of us who are not in her position can understand. It was a human interest story, attemtping to bring a face to what was happening. Those of us watching coworkers and friends lose their jobs felt the immediacy of her story. Cathy’s story was supposed to help others empathize. She expressed hope at her prospects of finding fulfilling new work. But the response by PI readers was to ridicule her hope, excoriate those of who worry about what will happen to us if we lose our jobs, make fun of people who don’t know what to do next, and generally add to the misery of what was otherwise a miserable crap-ass motherfucker of a sonofabitch day.

I know this is a handful of people making these comments on the PI blog, and an unfortunate face of the Web’s ability to allow every Tom, Dick and Asshole to make his opinion broadcast news. I know, too, that these are just a handful of petty little people who have no idea that other people suffer, too; but their words really added to the terror of this day. People who lose their jobs because of the economy, people who have to worry about paying for mortgages and food for their families and their futures are not spoiled brats for being upset about what’s going on. People who do lose their jobs and try to express hope and put on a brave public face do not need ridicule for trying to maintain a sense of dignity.

Today was a bad day. Those who enjoyed laughing at us for it shoud be ashamed of themselves.

2 thoughts on “On survival guilt”

  1. Excuse me? I don’t see anything threatening in this post, but perhaps you’re just insane. Or the anonymous dickwad who has been posting nasty things on other sites about my friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *