November 18, 2003

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Judgment Day is tomorrow.

Tomorrow, my entire life may be upside down. I may be unemployed. I may have to move. The whole picture of me may change tomorrow.

Work has gotten bad. The backlog of things I have to do could overwhelm even a Congressional committee, but when I sit down at my desk to try to do things, I just think: Why bother? I may lose my job this week anyway. And the newspaper this weekend reported that 48% of people that lost their job in telecom last year still haven't found jobs. Eek.

It's gotten to the point where half of us can't even come in to work anymore. I have started cleaning out my desk-just in case-and judging by the full bins all over the place, I am not the only one. Mails have dried to a halt. Meeting rooms are empty. Everyone is walking around with a look on their face like they have just eaten something sour, something which just won't sit right inside the stomach.

No one is laughing anymore. And as I commented on another site, work is like a lover. You lavish as much attention on it as you would in a new relationship, and then one day, the lover turns around to you and says in a haughty tone of voice: I never loved you as much as you love me.

And then you get dumped.

"But-I made love to you. I gave you my soul. I gave you the best of my life and all of my pleasure!" you could cry back, tears streaming down your face.
"Eh...I was just using you." the Company lover replies.

Work has been my constant lover for a long time. I have loved my job, worshipped the desire to continue to better myself. My job was my life. Yes, I know it's pathetic and sad, but it's the way I was for so long.

I have given blood, sweat, and tears for Company X and the two companies that came before them. For almost 5 years now, I would work 80 hour weeks for Company X. I would travel twice a month, never back down from a challenge, and had any man asked me to choose between them or my job, I would have chosen my job (in fact, I did bust up a relationship for that very reason).

I am not eating much. I am drinking, perhaps too much. I have gone through my entire roll of Hubba Bubba strawberry bubble tape in one week. That's a biggie.

I start to feel low, and then am reminded of a business trip I had a long time ago. I had to go to San Francisco, and then on to Boston (and the waiting arms of Mr. Y). It was my first time to San Francisco, and I was looking forward to it, so much so that I stayed a weekend there to take a look around.

I found the city to be marvelous. A little haven of hippyville, a place where one could blend in. I decided to spend one afternoon walking around Chinatown, orienting myself with the smells and faces of the Chinese foodshops.

While I was walking down one of the streets, admiring a carmlized duck carcass in the window, a Buddhist funeral procession went by, walking down the main street. It was dignified, respectful, but not at all the depressing somber affairs we know of. They were passing out fake paper money, some of their funeral party members carrying a large picture of the deceased. A band was playing. I was awed.

I continued on in a little while, the sun beating down on me and boosted by a sea breeze from time to time. The air was almost alive with scents, and I felt calm. I walked to a vegetable stand to touch the amazing vegetables under the watchful eye of a Chinese vendor. I went into a store and bought some Japanese rice candy, which I remember as a child and still love to this day.

Walking out, I noticed a man across the street standing on a milk crate. He was rather portly, perhaps in his late 50's, and had a sign on his chest which said simply: "Happy". He was beaming from ear to ear, and had his arms up in the air, shouting:

"Happy! Everybody happy! Happy happy happy!"

I smiled and watched him for a while (since I was in no hurry), as he continued to just grin like mad and tell people to be happy. I crossed the street, heading his way, and he continued to shout the same thing: "Happy! Everybody happy! Happy happy happy!"

As I got closer, he put an arm out and touched my shoulder, stopping me. His grin got wider, and I watched his lovely round face crease up so that his eyes almost disappeared, the sun reflecting off his nearly bald head. He turned towards me, moved his mouth to speak, and smilingly said, before letting me to walk on and think about what he said the rest of the day:

"We are all looking for a new god."

Amen, my brother. Amen.


UPDATE: Confirmed from Management that tomorrow is Judgment Day. We are to stay at our desks, mobile phones on. No meetings. When our managers call, we must report to their desks pronto for the decision. Almost everyone has gone home now. It's just me here, biding time until boxing class (which I think I will need tonight). And whatever happens, I will be drinking heavily tomorrow.

Thanks for the well wishes, guys. I will be needing them.

Posted by Everydaystranger at November 18, 2003 09:10 AM | TrackBack

Got up early hoping for some good news. Hang tough, Helen. Sending good thoughts your way right now.

Posted by: Jim at November 19, 2003 09:53 AM


No platitudes. I just hope for you that you'll find the strength you need to get through whatever happens.

Good things.

Posted by: LightandDark at November 19, 2003 08:58 AM

Oh, sweetie! I'm glad the day is actually finally here,but...

Well, if you're told you're staying on, just say "Well, of course, I never doubted it." If they're booting you, tell them "Pfffft! Doesn't matter. There are people all 'round the world who love me!"

Saaaaaay... You could always put yourself in a box and get mailed around in the path of Luuk... ;)

Whatever happens, love, keep us all in a corner of your consciousness and remember we're rooting for you.

Posted by: jean at November 19, 2003 06:46 AM

May the Gods smile upon you, my dear.

And if they don't, fuck them. You are going to make it in any case.

Posted by: David at November 19, 2003 05:24 AM


Good Luck tomorrow. I will be thinking about you and hoping it all works out.


Posted by: Agamemnon at November 19, 2003 05:21 AM

Best of luck for the big day. Please let us know how it all goes. I've been through a Judgement Day myself and it is not fun. Even if you "survive" it takes a while to recover.

Fingers crossed.

Posted by: Simon at November 19, 2003 02:27 AM

I'll be thinking about you Helen. I found out today that I'm about to go through my own countdown to judgement day next, ugh.

I hope you can at least rest. Worry and no sleep are a horrible combination.

Posted by: Rob at November 19, 2003 02:20 AM

It's tough, and I wish you luck. I was layed off from a telecom job 4 days before Christmas in 2000. No warning, must boom. I have to say it was a disguised blessing because I found a better job and career choice, I am much happier now.

Good Luck though,


Posted by: Tom at November 19, 2003 12:43 AM

We're strangers, but when i say i have my fingers crossed that things work out for you in a way that turns out for the best, i mean it. I see you've some mighty fine folks rooting for you already. It takes a while to notice, but even apparent disasters are often blessings in disguise in retrospect.

Posted by: Anne at November 19, 2003 12:09 AM

I'm with Pylorns...if they want to mess with you, and torture you like this, screw them...there ARE other places that you can and will be appreciated...screw'em...I know you love your job, and I don't want to see you lose it, but if you DO, then they weren't WORTHY of having a dedicated employee like you....give'em the bird on the way out, hold your head up high, and let them KNOW that they haven't beaten you...and that it is THEIR loss, and not yours...

sorry...been drinkin' a bit....

Posted by: Eric at November 18, 2003 11:50 PM

good luck, Helen.

you're in my prayers.

Posted by: jcrue at November 18, 2003 10:12 PM

You could be like the guy from Office Space. You'll be promoted, but your Indian friend and the nerd down the row will get laid off.

Well anyway, good luck Helen, no one wants to see you be sad. You can always work for me! (When I get a good job in 4 years...)

Posted by: Jeff at November 18, 2003 09:43 PM

Even if the worst happens and you get laid off, you'll be fine. Even some of the richest men in the world have been hired and fired more times than they can count. Just don't give up, and don't let it drag you down into depression.

I've noticed that other people comment with the name "Rob" and a couple of times you've thanked a "Rob" for some kind advice. It scared the crap out of me because I couldn't remember giving you any advice at all. I guess I'll post as Rob Port from now on to avoid confusion. Not that I post that much. Ok, I'm rambling...I'll shut up.

Posted by: Rob Port at November 18, 2003 09:38 PM

Just remember, boxing class before drinking. Doing it the other way around could result in either getting your butt kicked or kicking someone else's butt.

Bummer about the death watch at work, I've never heard of a company doing a layoff like this, very strange.

And give me a shout the next time you are in SF. Its a great city that I need to explore more of.

Posted by: Johnny Huh at November 18, 2003 09:06 PM

Whoa. Suddenly I am quite sympathetic with your judgement day feelings. Mine doesn't sound quite as harrowing, but certainly came out of nowhere. Good luck tomorrow, and I'm sure you will land on your feet.

Posted by: Guinness at November 18, 2003 08:27 PM

Sending lots of good mojo up north. And I'll keep my fingers crossed tomorrow, even if this slows down my typing...

But you have to wonder about the way company X is going about this. In fact, I can't think of a way to handle this that is much worse than what you describe. Talk about sapping the energy out of your workforce.

Posted by: Gudy at November 18, 2003 07:54 PM

I will keep my fingers crossed for you! I wish you the best of luck. Sending good vibes your way!

Posted by: Ash at November 18, 2003 06:36 PM

H, I'm going to just mail you. Somehow what I want to say shouldn't be public.

But yes, chocolate chocolate chip. With sprinkles and whipped cream and toasted hazelnuts...

Posted by: Kaetchen at November 18, 2003 05:28 PM

Listen very carefully... it doesn't really matter. Whatever transpires tomorrow you will go on and it will be on your terms and in the way that you want it to, OK?

I like you.

Posted by: zeno at November 18, 2003 05:08 PM

eh, there is nothing you can do about it. My suggestion get drunk and come to work drunk on judgement day.. that way if they fire you, you can just piss on your bosses desk...

Posted by: pylorns at November 18, 2003 04:43 PM


Will be thinking about you tommorow. I always find the wait is worse then the news the closer you get to it. Keep you head up and try to keep a smile on your face. But in any event heavy drinking that night is well deserved :)

Posted by: Drew7203 at November 18, 2003 04:25 PM

*sending all the positive vibes i can muster* waiting sucks.

Posted by: kat at November 18, 2003 04:20 PM

So your description of Happy Man made me think of Buddha. Which for some reason, let me to my Zen companion. Which made me think of my favourite passage out of my zen companion:

Barn's burnt down--
I can see the moon.

Posted by: Sassy McSmartpants at November 18, 2003 04:17 PM

Ooh, thanks. I really am trying to keep my head up about this. I can't accept that "whatever happens, happens". I have to have plans. I have to have options.

Right now, I have none, and it really feels tough.

Think I know how the French aristocrats felt as they marched up the plank to the guillotine.

Posted by: Helen at November 18, 2003 04:11 PM

We're rooting for you, babe!

Posted by: Jennifer at November 18, 2003 04:04 PM

That was a wonderful post, as always.

It seems Company X (which I STILL prefer to call "Duct-Taped Hamsters, Inc.") has managed to sap it's entire workforce of any desire to be productive. How asinine is that?

I'm not gonna feed you any "things happen for a reason" stuff -- I don't believe it. Things happen because you MAKE them happen. You come across as quite proactive, and I know you'll make things happen for yourself regardless of the outcome of Judgement Day.

You are in my thoughts.

Posted by: Joey at November 18, 2003 03:01 PM

I have two jobs...three really. I wish I could give you one of mine. How do you feel about teaching history? You don't need to know what you're talking about. You just talk and the students believe anything you say. It's great!

Posted by: Rob at November 18, 2003 02:58 PM

You're a dark worry cloud in my head. Just get through this and stay brave.

Posted by: Sedalina at November 18, 2003 01:39 PM

The Peacock clan is pulling for you, Helen. You're in our hearts and thoughts. And not just the naughty thoughts, either!

Posted by: Jim at November 18, 2003 12:14 PM

I guess you have to think that change is always inevitable and if this job goes then it's time for a new beginning? Good luck whatever happens, and just think about the man on the crate..happy happy, happy :)

Posted by: nisi at November 18, 2003 12:09 PM

came here via melo's blog....
n same as her, can offer just hope......

"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope"

Posted by: richa at November 18, 2003 11:43 AM

H! hugs. I know how you feel. I do so hope things get better. I can only hope, I wish I could offer you a job instead!

Posted by: melodrama at November 18, 2003 10:47 AM