It’s Thursday night. For some strange reason, it’s been a long week. Perhaps because we’re nearly 2 weeks into the new year, and I feel like I’m still catching up with what I missed during the week I had off work between Christmas and New Year’s.
Time off is a strange thing for me. I always feel like I’m somehow on the clock — on an internal clock that measures whether or not I’ve been occupied for a sufficient amount of time. Over the years, I’ve contracted for extended stretches of time, billing by the hour, watching my time very carefully. I guess the habit just got ingrained. And it’s actually a good habit to have, because it both makes you mindful of how much time you’ve spent… as well as how much time you have left.
“Time is money,” they say. Maybe, maybe not. But time does matter.
I spent my time extremely carefully. I guard it jealously, and the first few hours of the day are mine, all mine. I rise early — 6:30 a.m. is late for me — and I exercise religiously each morning. I ride an exercise bike for 20 minutes while listening to music, an educational podcast, or some motivational speaker. Then I lift free weights for another 10-15 minutes. I try to stretch, as I’m making my coffee and egg, but I don’t always get that done. What I do get done, has been sufficient to shed 20 pounds in the past year. I haven’t been deliberately dieting or making significant changes to my food intake. I’ve just been exercising more. Oh, and eating less sugar, candy, and cookies.
Long story short, I’ve had headaches for year that didn’t respond to your normal dose of Advil or Tylenol or other remedies. Even a common migraine medicine didn’t help me that much. Turns out, my own particular headaches are best solved by cutting out chocolate, cookies, and candy from my diet. And while it might not seem like such a fantastic thing, to go without the sweets and treats, it actually has helped me keep my weight steady, as well as helped me drop the pounds over the past year.
But tonight, I had a cookie. It was one of those Scottish shortbreads that are tasty and delicious. I can afford to have one. I’m 20 pounds lighter than I was, this time last year. I’ve got it covered, because I’ll be back at the exercise, first thing tomorrow morning. I plan to swim in the afternoon, too.
Plus, I can use a little break, tonight. It’s been a long week of business-as-usual on one hand, and uncertainty about what’s to come, as layoffs have commenced at my company. I don’t hear much from live people, mostly what’s reported online, and the numbers that people have been reporting have been somewhat fantastical (e.g., massively overstated). But there’s a general sense of not-knowing-what’s-next, as inevitable organization changes take place.
I can’t say I’m happy about the layoffs. At the same time, I’m not overly concerned. I am contacted regularly by recruiters, and I have depth and breadth of experience and a solid skillset that makes me extremely versatile. Plus, I work my ass off, and I’m driven to do a good job, no matter what the learning curve, no matter what the hurdles. So, in all honesty, I can state objectively that I’m an awesome employee who’s a great team member and a real pleasure to work with.
People like me always land on their feet. Especially people like me. Since 1988, I’ve been steadily employed without a significant break in my employment record. There was that week or so in 1993, when the company I worked for tanked, and I was let go with 1/3 of the total staff. But I was back at it, looking for work, asking everyone I met, if they knew of any job opportunities. I found something right away.
I always do.
Heck, I moved across the country from California to Boston in 1995, and I had a job lined up in less than a week. This was before the internet, before email, before Skype, before anything that made it possible to instantaneously communicate with anyone. I lined everything up from the other side of the country, using Boston phone books at the local library, along with the fax machine at work (which I technically wasn’t supposed to use, but did anyway), sneaking long-distance phone calls at the office when my superiors weren’t around, and printing copies of my resume and cover letter at the local Kinko’s (remember them?).
And it all paid off, too. I arrived in Boston on Wednesday night, plugged in the phone on Thursday morning and got on the horn with recruiters, then went out and interviewed Thursday afternoon and Friday. I had no idea where I was going in Boston. I gave myself an extra hour of time to get to my appointments, because I didn’t want to be late and I had no idea how long it would take me to get there. I didn’t even know for sure if I was getting on the right bus or “T” trolley. I made the rounds and made my connections. And by the following Tuesday, I was working. Earning. Making bank.
Plus, I had a paycheck from my last job waiting for me at the apartment in Boston when I arrived.
I planned. I prepared. I used my head. And I got to work.
And I’ve been working steadily, ever since. I’ve had a bunch of jobs in the Boston area, but I can’t recall having more than a few days off between positions. I generally arrange for my last day to be a Friday, and the following Monday be my first day on the new job.
So, no, even in today’s climate, I’m not particularly frightened of being let go and getting stuck out of work for extended periods of time. I know people in tech who have been unable to find work for 6 months at a stretch. But people like me don’t get stuck out of work very often. If anything, we have a hard time just taking a break. That’s partly because of temperament — always needing to be moving forward, always needing to be occupied and contributing, which makes us useful to most companies — and partly because the world just has a lot of work for us to do. We’re a rarity, actually, we people who are willing to do what it takes to get things done, who aren’t big on excuses but love our results, who truly believe we have an obligation to work our hardest to make a difference, and relish the challenge of doing that.
People like me are valuable. We’re needed. Because we’re not in the majority. And work still needs to get done.
So, just like exercise insulates me from the deleterious effects of a tasty Scottish shortbread, my work ethic and track record buffer me from the insecurities of a shifting job market. The Folks in Charge can do as they will. I’ve got things covered on my end. I’ve had plenty of experience being solely responsible for my own employment status. Thus, even if things change… they probably won’t.