It’s surely a sign of the times. I mean could I ever, in my weirdest dreams, have imagined that the small fella’s junior infant year would be ended via group video call? Last September, having dropped him to big school for his first day, I lamented my having not cuddled him on my lap while watching cartoons and feeding him his favourite treats for the entirety of his babyhood. This is classic me – rooing not having enjoyed the ride that little bit more.
Well. Back on the ride we all landed come mid-March. With a bang. You just never know what’s coming up around the corner.
Of course the bang which is Corona Virus will continue to echo for some time. Last weekend I was reading up on Aer Lingus’s large-scale redundancy plan which is part and parcel of any commercial operation, but a particular feature of recession, whose jaws we are currently staring into. It’s breath stinks.
I was made redundant once. The gurus (none of whom were ever made redundant, I suspect) say that everyone should experience it, like you come out improved in some way. And maybe you do, maybe you don’t.
I had the joy of being made redundant well into a recession, when you have tantalisingly almost gotten out the other side unscathed. We knew it was coming of course. The organisation was under pressure to rationalise and every cost-saving exercise that could possibly have been undertaken had been done so with gusto, because a recession brings with it the weird weight of indebtedness that you have a job at all. So you row in and you try and you understand when it’s not enough.
It’s still rough though.
I really liked my job you see – the people I met there were just sound. There was a canteen and good craic and flexible hours so I could get home early when I wanted to take my dogs to the beach. The work was varied and interesting – the industry, exciting. It remains the job I’ve stayed in the longest – three years to the day – and I would have stayed longer, which is a massive compliment given that I’ve always liked to learn and move on. When interviewing for the job I got subsequently, a lifer at that particular organisation asked with curiosity why I had moved around so much. ‘Because I could’, I answered puzzled and honestly. PR and marketing isn’t about your qualification it’s about experience on the job. So you keep hopping and keep learning. I would have happily bedded in for longer at that job – the irony.
Choosing to change is great you see. But being forced to change is the opposite. Redundancy can certainly be an opportunity but it’s also scary and sad and somewhat embarrassing.
On the morning of the announcements I power dressed and wore my highest heels. Although I was busy in my job (I heard afterwards you are never as busy at work as on the day you’re made redundant), marketing people are always the first to go and, statistically, women also fare badly (as it happened for me, in a department of six men and four women, one man and three women were let go, a topic for another day). So I was ready. On my last day my friends walked me to the front door. I almost buckled, afraid I wouldn’t make it out without falling into a sobbing heap (even on the way out nobody wants to cry at work) but they steeled and half-carried me out, not allowing me one single tear. Until the car. Leaving great work colleagues is never easy because a special dynamic disappears. It only exists in the workplace and when the workplace is gone, so is that unique relationship.
My next role would be in a different county and alter my way of living pretty substantially. But that’s the nature of change isn’t it? It’s going to bring about something different.
The Corona Virus has been all about change – some of it good, but overall I think most of us would have been happy to give it a skip. Everybody says we couldn’t possibly have seen it coming. And yet a global pandemic has always and ever been in the top five of possible world-wide catastrophies. Perhaps rather than us not seeing it coming, we chose to ignore the possibility that something so rotten could happen to us.
Kind of like a redundancy.
But don’t despair folks – I do have some words of wisdom to offer. The end of school year video conference went well and afterwards we all ate jaffa cakes and watched Paddington Bear. Though change is difficult, it can sometimes bring you to where you truly want to be and I have been embracing the chance to molly-coddle the boy some more.
If, however, unwanted and unpalatable change is thrust upon you, just try to make it out of the building without bursting into tears. One of the few things we have left within our control is how we react to things.