I’m sad. One of my former reports from my old job texted me to let me know that they, and numerous other members of my old newsprint team from my old job were all being laid off.
This is something that I figured could eventually show up on the table, but seeing as how over the last six years I was there, I never saw, or heard of anywhere in the company that did any sort of laying off, I didn’t think that it would actually happen.
It’s funny, when I had planned on leaving the company, my ego and I had hoped that it would get a modicum of respect and acknowledgment. I’m not saying I was ever the most important cog in the machine that was my team, but I did design the work process that kept us afloat throughout the transition into the Ford Pinto of software we were forced to use. However, when I had announced my notice of resignation, we were already in the first week of a two-week notice from one of my production counterparts, and unbeknownst to me, my other production counterpart was a week away from announcing their two-week notice.
Suddenly, I was the Stephanie Tanner middle child of resignations, doomed to be unnoticed, and worse off, I begun feeling concerned that this power vacuum that was forming due to the departure of 3 out of 4 managers on the team was going to no longer put the team in a defensive mode until they could staff back up, but now put them at risk of being potentially liquidated, and the work outsourced.
Ever since the pandemic rose and my team specifically took some lumps throughout the last two years because the print medium isn’t as agile and adaptable as digital ones, there was concern throughout the team about the security of their jobs. I had, honestly opined that I felt that everyone was safe, solely because of the ironic fact that we all had knowledge of the aforementioned Ford Pinto of graphic design software, so it’s not like any joe-schmoe could be hired off the street to do our jobs. And for the last two years, in spite of how much of a pain in the ass it’s been, our team had navigated the bumpy waters of pandemic retail, and come out no worse for wear at the end of it.
But now, with the Great Resignation™ hitting our team specifically and creating such gaps in the team, I can’t say that I’m surprised to see that liquidation and outsourcing has begun. The company as a whole clearly soured on the print medium, which was my impetus for starting to look for a new job, aside from the fact that I hated the fuck out of my boss, but none of it changed the fact that I still cared about my team and that all these talented designers all deserved better than they’ve been dealt.
I do feel a little bit of guilt that there is the possibility that my departure, along with the departure of the other managers made this happen, although I have no clue to whether or not this was always on the table in the first place regardless of if we were there or not. But when the day is over, I still have to, and I did, put myself and my family above all else, and it turns out that I dodged an extremely close bullet.
It’s just that as an empathetic person, it kills me that people that I cared about are put in this unfortunate position. The saving grace is that they still have nearly nine weeks notice, which gives them fairly sufficient time to begin looking for new jobs, and with the cards all out on the table, it’s not like anyone has to be discreet about it. In fact, as long as they’re not insubordinate shitbags, all my old team that’s on the block doesn’t even really have to put up the front of being friendly or overly professional anymore, because the company is still going to rely on them to put out all the scheduled advertisements all the way up to Memorial Day.
And then they get a severance package, and fortunately the timing of it will still allow all of them to partake in the company’s semi-annual profit sharing bonuses which usually take place in March.
At this point, what I’m most curious about are the future statuses of other individuals on my old team, namely my old boss. I don’t get the impression that they’re on the block like my old reports are, and I have this pessimistic suspicion that they probably didn’t fight very hard, nor are they remotely anything close to the type who would go down with the ship. They have another channel under their umbrella, and I’ve long known that that one was their true passion, while my team was kind of the bastard they had to manage in order to have their role.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they in fact initiated this liquidation, because often said that their life would be peaches if they could get rid of newsprint, and could focus solely on catalog. But these are things that I’ll never know, but the result of it all is still feeling terrible for a lot of talented designers who will soon be out of a job, and not help feeling a little bit guilty for helping push the boulder over the edge. I don’t regret anything I’ve done in regards to seeking greener pastures before the shots were fired, but I’m still allowed to feel empathy for those I used to work with who were saddled by this unfortunate development.