In which I’m unemployed again.
In September of 2011 I had just finished a networking certificate at the community college and was beginning to freak out because my unemployment benefits were running out. Three days before they did, my ex-employer tracked me down and offered me a job with okay pay and a decent title. I accepted gleefully.
I was already trained on their ancient and kludgey software, knew the people, and could ride my bike to work. Great hours, no particular dress code, and a sweet office. Perfect!
A year later I realized that the title was titular; most of the real systems administration was being handled by some subcontractor in Europe and the company was rapidly putting more and more of what little stuff it had left into the cloud. I wasn’t being trained on anything new and wasn’t going to be. Most of my day was taken up with annoying and tedious first tier technical support calls, and attempts at little special projects I never got very far with because of the constant interruptions. Periodically a co-worker would log me into the other queues as well so I’d be taking billing and reception calls too. In essence, I was a first tier call center drone with an office instead of a cubicle.
During the past six months the workload has gotten lighter and lighter. More and more attrition, fewer and fewer calls, more and more services out of the data center and into the cloud. All I was doing, really, was first tier support, messing about testing mobile broadband devices and feeling guilty about not getting the vmail file cleaned up or moving those Hostopia sites. Any actual sysadmin duties were vanishingly rare.
Then they cut my hours and took me off salary, and started routing evening and weekend support traffic to a call center. As we all know, you never get your hours back: when you get cut it’s because they’re trying to keep you but can’t afford to. The owner of the company had cornered me a couple of times and told me he wanted me to go sit for my CCNA — even said he’d rent me a car to go do it — and said he’d sign a 2-year employment contract if I did, so even though I knew the bottom line had dictated a cut in hours I really was surprised when I got to work this morning and was summoned immediately to a meeting.
Usually you know weeks in advance if you’re gonna get laid off. The contract thing threw off my radar, I guess, but I have to admit I did feel a bit of relief. I’ve been basically counting the hours until Amma’s tour schedule comes out and I could book my vacation dates in May because I’ve needed a vacation so bad and was getting kinda sick of going in there five days a week and not really doing the job I wanted to be doing. I mean, the last time I quit working there it was because I was bored and there was no room for growth which is kinda where I was at this time too.
If you read my Twitter feed you know that I’ve been doing first tier calls for far too damn long. I was not being utilized or engaged at work. I’ve had more than one person encourage me to go find something better to do, but it’s hard to beat an easy job ten blocks from your house when it comes to certain kinds of comfort. I wasn’t even idly job hunting. But now that the universe has seen fit to kick me out, I guess I’ll look for something else.
I was told I’ll get my vacation pay and a week’s severance, but my main concern right now is that I wasn’t employed long enough to be eligible for unemployment benefits. My base year probably started in January of 2011 but I didn’t go back to work until September. As usual, I’m concerned about the tech job market in this town (because there basically isn’t one) and am trying to figure out what else I might do… right now though I’m looking forward to sleeping in for the rest of the week, and maybe doing some utterly irresponsible unemployed day drinking if I can find people who are similarly free.
I’ll file on Friday and hope to God I’m eligible; if I’m not I guess I’ll go and get a food handler’s card next week and start applying at restaurants and grocery store delis. In between, I’m going to go all SPRING CLEANING with my free time and haul a bunch of shit to the Goodwill on the back of my bike.
This is the only time I’ve ever lost a job that didn’t really sting in that sort of hurt-and-embarrassed sort of way. I didn’t know it was coming until I was in the room and felt the vibe, and when they said it I was sort of like, “Eh, cool, I can sleep in tomorrow,” rather than struggling with that flush of heat and shame you’re usually operating through.
I spent an hour wiping my data off my machine (God I hope I got it all — some of it is really not shit you want other people accessing) and collecting all the stupid personal crap one accumulates in one’s office drawers, turned in my keys, and took off by eleven. I hadn’t even finished my coffee.
I’m going to do absolutely nothing of use for the rest of this week. Absolutely nothing at all! Please contact me if you want to give me a job, thanks.