30 Days of Gratitude – Day #2, Layoff Bliss

gratitude

Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I take a different view. We all have challenges and hardships we encounter of various types and degrees. For me, getting laid off after 15 years at my last job just as the economy was tanking was very difficult … and rewarding.

Day #2 – Getting Laid off Was The Best Thing Ever

It was a moment that I remember vividly, Lisa coming home and me being there and her jokingly asking ‘what, did you lose your job’ and me saying ‘yes’ and her jaw dropping. But let me back up … I lost my job on the 3rd of October, the day after Danny turned 11, three days after the end of the third quarter. No one was surprised that more layoffs happened – this was the fourth straight quarter of by-department layoffs. First manufacturing, then engineering, then research, and finally quality and operations. I wasn’t even that surprised when I was pretty sure I was one of those being hit with the layoff … but that doesn’t make it easier when you have a mortgage and family and bills to consider.

But that same day I got a call from an old friend and former co-worker named Hemant, and he told me something that resonates with me still seven years later: although it is hard and shocking, you were not happy and will soon realize this was the best thing that could have happened. And he was right.

In 2004 when parent company Rohm & Haas fully took over and integrated all systems, all of the promises made when they bought out the Shipley family in 1992 went out the window. They instituted new structures and policies, and then executed a large layoff that was handled about as poorly and dehumanizing as I could possibly imagine. I never really forgave the company for that, and as I have discussed before I made a resolution in 2007 that one way or the other I wouldn’t enter 2008 at the company.

But we had also been looking at the possibility of moving towns in the Boston area, because what had started as a great school system in the early 90s when we moved there had consistently gone downhill ever since – and we knew we didn’t want the kids going to middle school there. We’d had our house appraised and were looking at selling – then suddenly we knew I would be working somewhere else and would likely have to move.

I have also talked about the job hunt and how lucky I was to have been cut before things got really bad for the economy, and also how if I had taken any of the other four offers made to me I would be in a different job now due to the other places eliminating divisions or going completely out of business.

But I chose Corning. And it has been the best move I could imagine. Lisa noted it within the first year – I am different, more happy than in years, and definitely more chatty. Suddenly I am outgoing and will talk to anyone, and that has only grown the last couple of years as I have grown as a runner. Now I see people out everywhere who see me running and I chat with them, and really in general lead my life much more integrated with everyone around me.

It is hard looking back and knowing that it took me so long to leave a job I knew I should have left long before, but I am glad I did eventually leave. And while I would love to move back to Massachusetts someday, it will be on my terms and I will carry this new outlook along with me. I still love reading about all of the great people I used to work with and how they and their spouses and kids are doing all over the country. It was an amazing 15 years that changed my life.

Is there a life moment that seemed negative that you now feel was fundamental to becoming who you are?

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24 thoughts on “30 Days of Gratitude – Day #2, Layoff Bliss

  1. I know exactly what you mean in this post – and while the time at my last company was truly horrible, it was the impetus I needed to be here, in North Dakota, pursuing my PhD full-time. It was my dream and I feel like I had to go through all of that to realize it!

    • Totally agree – your experiences were really bad and I still remember how angry I was reading what you had to go through. But like you say, it helped push you where you needed to go in order to get here.

  2. There are definitely things in life that at the time seem like a negative but end up being for the best in the end. My dad was laid off 5 years ago after working at the same company in Manhattan for almost 30 years. He used his few months of unemployment to actually unwind for the first time in years and started working out. He ended up getting an even better job close to wear my sister and I are living. While its tough for my parents to be away from their friends, they are happy to be closer to us and I think my dads job now is so much more appreciative of him. I truly believe that everything works out in the end.

    • That is both sad and good about your father … I started working at the end of the ‘lifetime job security’ era. As it was my own father worked for military contractors and got laid off numerous times as budgets shrank and grew. It can be pretty stressful stuff!

  3. You are not the first person who I’ve encountered that spoke about a layoff being the best thing that has ever happened to them. I think there are many times in life when in the moment, something feels terrible (job loss, a bad break up, etc) but with some time and perspective, you realize that it was truly the best thing that could have happened to you. I am really glad you are at Corning and so happy there, there is nothing like loving your job, co workers and company, it makes life so much better and more fulfilling.

    • Thanks! I hope that this new job ends up being super-great for you.

      Corning has had ups and downs, both in terms of my projects and some of the people I have worked with … but overall it has been wonderful. I think I needed to leave that company and we needed to move out of that town … and it all happened together.

  4. Have you ever heard that Garth Brooks song “Unanswered Prayers”? I think my biggest hurts have been a couple romantic relationships that ended — and of course, in retrospect, thank goodness!

    • As I have mentioned, ‘songs with words’ are really not my thing, and country music least of all (I AM a Boston boy, after all 😉 ). So I have heard OF Garth Brooks, but beyond that … 😉

      On the bad relationships front – A young woman my wife works with has just gotten back with a guy who has repeatedly told her he doesn’t want to long-term commit, but then keeps going back to her because she always takes him back. It seems pretty clear, at some point he will find the one he WILL commit to, and she will be permenantly dumped … and it is really sad because it is almost inevitable. I just hope no weddings and kids happen between now and then.

      • I would say worth reading the lyrics of that song, the gist of it is that sometimes you wish/pray for one relationship (but it could apply to more than just relationships), but it doesn’t work and you end up with something much better, thanking god for not answering your former prayers.
        Such a bummer when you can see someone in a bad relationship zone but can’t do anything really than sit back and watch, hoping they see the light and it gets better.

      • Ah – that makes sense. As an aside on that, it is weird being someone who doesn’t really listen to lyrics …

        And yeah about the relationship thing … but each of us has to live our own lives and learn through our mistakes … and who knows, maybe my read is totally wrong.

  5. Leaving the restaurant was a shock, but it was needed and almost a relief. It forced me to take care of myself again, to re-prioritize, and otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

    • Yay! Never easy … reminds me of a Dilbert quote – “Change is good … you go first!” We never really want to make these changes, but they are often what we need most.

  6. I am glad this helped you shape who you are today. I cannot even imagine how hard and frustrating it was at the time but it’s so nice to see you coming back and enjoying where your life has gone because of it.

  7. Yes, there were many. In fact all the biggest positive changes for me have occurred coming out of bumps in the road, some pretty big! Really happy that things worked out for you better than you could have imagined. That’s what life is all about it seems.

    • You have so much to be happy and proud about now … and I know I feel the same way about my life. It is amazing how difficult changes in life can bring us to places better than we could ever imagine.

  8. I’m so glad that getting laid off turned out to be a good thing and led to a happier job! That’s not how it turns out for a lot of people. If I got laid off I don’t know what I would do. The most negative time in my life was college. I was lonely, yet didn’t reach out to others. I was homesick. I didn’t really know who I was. I lived alone for four years and preferred that. I was four hours away from home, on my own. Well, I had family support of course but essentially it was just ME taking care of ME day after day. I couldn’t imagine doing it all over again, but looking back, that time on my own, definitely molded me into the independent person I am today. I know I can take care of myself.

  9. The day I was told I was going to be laid off, I got a call from a company that I had interviewed with a few months prior. I haven’t worked in quite a while so I can be home for the kids, but I won’t ever forget that. It sort of all works out. My husband was “going to be laid off” because the construction management work dried up, so we moved to Texas. It was HORRIBLE for our family but now we live in NC, he’s back to himself, and spends tons of time with our kids. I remember thinking that there had to be a reason for this, and in the last year, it’s become quite clear why we needed to go through all that… you realize your priorities and know what’s most important. It’s crazy, isn’t it?!

    • Thanks for sharing! I was fortunate also that I had an interview already set for the following week that turned into a 3-month assignment before coming to Corning (and also fortunate that I had the sense to realize that job wasn’t a long-term fit). Sounds like you guys had a lousy chapter to get to a good end … glad it worked out.

  10. It seems weird that after working for 37 years, one day just stands out like a slap in the face. It turned into a death sentence for my job, but I would do what I had to do again, in a heartbeat.

    I was in a major position on a board of trustees. The chairman of the board flat out lied about something that was very important. I had been told, in the strictest confidence what was going on–and I could not/would not betray the trust of those who had confided in me.
    The board chair called for the “resignation” of the, lets say “president” and the only way I could show my disagreement was to vote against this “resignation.” I did that and I did it for the right reasons. The board chairman got that “resignation” that he wanted and then had me removed from the board, after I’d served for 11 years as the Treasurer.

    I’d do it again, even knowing the outcome for my job. He was wrong and I would not condone his actions. It cost me a great deal, but I stood up for what was right…..not what the egotistical man wanted.
    When I get up in the morning, I have to be able to respect the person who looks back at me in the mirror……and I do.

    • Love this story Clare … my wife took a similar stance at her previous job, and was really shocked at how vicious the people at the top became about making her go away, even destroying evidence of what she had brought to the board … it was ugly. But ultimately it is like you say – you need to be able to look at yourself with respect.

  11. It’s so crazy how the ugliest challenges we face really shape us in the best of ways sometimes. My entire stint on the west coast was like that. I had a rough go of it out there for quite awhile, but I would not trade that experience for the entire world. I am a better, stronger person today because of it.

  12. Pingback: 30 Days of Gratitude Revisited | Running Around the Bend

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