Well, the day has passed. The day I have been dreading for about 6 months now (yes, that is how long ago the company announced layoffs, and how long it took them to actually make a decision). And I didn’t get laid off. And I am disappointed. I know I should be happy to retain my position and don’t want to sound ungrateful, so let me tell you why I am disappointed.
Originally, I was dreading being laid off – I even started acting more like a model employee to avoid being singled out. I was too worried it would destroy our FI date… because trust me, as Houston’s humid, hot oppressive summer rolls in, you can think of nothing else but of how many more you will have to endure. There has also been quite a bit of mental preparation and soul-searching going on in our house deciding what we need as a family, and as individuals.
Through this soul searching, one surprising personal revelation I had is that I want to teach. I always planned on being a teacher, but life and a high-paying job got in the way. I realized that not teaching is a large disappointment to me and if I never try teaching, I will regret that on my deathbed. This new personal goal of mine has caused huge ripples in our FI plans, because it made us realize that we will have income after we depart the corporate world. Likely, we will have enough income to live off of for a few years at least, and that makes a huge difference to the amount we need to save now.
Mr. SSC and I have strategized and planned, revising what our ‘next life’ looks like – post to follow shortly. Previously, we were going to both work our corporate jobs until the summer of 2018, while we amassed enough funds to pay off our house and build a nest egg that should last us forever. But, with the threat of layoffs, we realized that if I got laid off, Mr. SSC could work until 2018 as planned, and I could stay home and take care of the kids. This would allow Mr. SSC to have better work hours and avoid the morning rush hour, possibly saving him up to 30 min a day in traffic. We could easily reduce our expenditures that come as a factor of both of us working. The biggest cut would be daycare, which is currently a necessary expenditure due to work. A smaller cut would be the maids, which are more of a convenience and better way to spend our time vs. money. I would also have time to cook home-cooked meals, run errands during the week, and slow down the hectic pace of our lives… Currently, it feels like we are always rushing from here to there, hurrying the kids up, and it feels like we have an inexhaustible mile-long to-do list chasing us around. Plus, even with one income I estimate that we could still save a little bit of money each month. It sounds like a Win-Win to me!
In the lay-off case, I would take those few years off between now and 2018, and then find a faculty teaching job in 2018 or 2019. Even if it was just part-time, we could still afford to move to a better climate, a nicer town, and find a place to relax and enjoy our lives and children more. I would be doing something I love while making a little coin to offset expenses. This would let our nest-egg continue to grow to make up the difference of me leaving the corporate world a few years early. It seemed like the perfect scenario! I get to leave the corporate job I am comfortably miserable at, and in a few years I get to try my hand at my dream job. This is on top of the overall improvements these moves would make in our family life.
However, this new plan hinged on one thing and one thing alone – me getting laid off so I can get a nice little severance package. That failed! Damn!!! No lay-off, no switch to a stay at home mom, no family perks as a result of the layoff. Just sustained comfortable miserableness at the current place of employment. Sigh… Mr. SSC side-note: This reminds me of a John Prine lyric that goes, “Pretty good, not bad, I can’t complain. Actually, everything is just about the same…” Listen here
I’ve also been a bit down on my company. My feelings were exacerbated by the protracted way they went about the layoffs and re-org. After announcing the upcoming layoffs and re-org about 6 months ago, they first had to “re-org” the whole department. Then the new org chart was released and people could see how big the cuts were for each team. For instance, one of our friends was on a team that went from 21 people to 11 people. Then the upper management had to apply for their positions, which took a month or so, and then it trickled down to us.
Everyone in my department had to apply for four positions. These could include their current job, someone else’s job, a totally different job outside of their current department, or a mix of all of the above. The applicants then got sorted, reviewed, and people were chosen to be retained or let go. The number of positions in my department were cut by 30% which is rough, but there were also candidates from other departments who could compete for our jobs because their current positions were no longer being retained. I heard there were ~600 employees competing for 321 jobs. There was no voluntary early retirement incentive that was being offered outside of the normal severance package.
Obviously, it was a brutal month of waiting between applying for the “new “positions and when we heard whether we got an offer or not. Originally, we were told we would hear by this last Monday the 5th. Then, HR realized a few days beforehand that they had to do lots and lots of work to prepare for layoffs, and well… it was delayed until Wednesday. Even then, in the heartless manner of corporate America, they first notified everyone who had a job, while letting those remaining employees that didn’t get an offer, sit around all day checking their emails every 5 minutes…. They even let them go home that night, with a sinking pit in their stomachs of not knowing. Thursday morning they set up meetings with HR and the “left standing” employees to let them know their fate. Heartless. I mean, I am not in HR, but I don’t see why you have to treat people whose lives are about to go into upheaval with such disrespect. It made many of us sick to watch how it was handled.
But, yes, I got an email, phrased with wonderful congratulatory prose with my new job offer (for my current job). I was so disappointed. Mr. SSC sidenote: I was also disappointed a little. While, I did have the option of not accepting the job – if I chose to not accept it, I would also not be eligible for any severance package. Sigh… I wish I could have traded positions with another employee on my team but that is not allowed.
So, it’s back to the drawing board looking at our FFLC timelines. I know at the minimum I’ll have to stick around until March (bonus time – if we even get one), and then maybe I’ll stick around through the summer. As long as Mr. SSC’s job remains secure (come on oil, just another $10-$15 bump) and no tragedy strikes our lives, I am pretty sure that I will be departing this soul-sucking corporate job by August 2016. While I am grateful I am still employed, knowing how much better our family life could be if I wasn’t working is why I am so disappointed. While I will most likely quit in the foreseeable future, it will be difficult for me to choose to do that because I’ve never “quit” anything. Even knowing the benefits for my family, it will still be difficult when that time comes. Sorry for dragging the post out so long, but it has been good to vent, and if you’re still reading, thanks for hanging in there!