Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Live-Blogging the Depression: First in a Series

Recently my girlfriend asked me what the definition of a depression is. I told her there isn't one, which is true, but now I'm thinking of the old line that says a recession is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose your job.

Based on my reading of the tea leaves, I put it at 90% that I will be involuntarily unemployed around this time next week.

The tea leaves include yesterday's companywide email that serves as a clinic in How Not to Talk to Employees Unless Of Course You Are Trying to Get Rid of Them Anyway. It said, in a tone that can be described only as "assholish":

  • Nobody will get a raise in 2009
  • You will pay more for your medical insurance
  • You will continue not getting a 401k match
  • Despite this, everyone will still go through the usual moronic, insulting, and pointless job performance review
It also said the company is hemorrhaging cash and that this fact has nothing to do with the long string of spendthrift, stupid management types and a marketing strategy that consists solely of "COUPON!!!" but is really because we just don't work hard enough. OK, it didn't actually say that; what it said was:
It is more important now than ever for us to focus on performance and evaluate how we measure up. Our organization must be made up of people who have the character, skills, maturity, passion and competitive drive to help us meet the immediate challenges and to drive our future success. As you go through the performance appraisal process, you must be completely honest with yourself and your teams. This is a time when we all need to step up in a way that we haven’t been required to do in the past and we need to have the right people here pulling together to get this company on more firm financial footing.
Anyone who's worked for a big company is fluent in corporatese, so it's obvious this means: "If you aren't happy working even harder for effectively less money than you're making now, we're fine with you leaving because we would fire you anyway."

The email went on to explain that, not to worry, our new CEO, whom nobody has actually met or even seen, has been there, done that and has A Plan. Wonderful.

I haven't had to look for a job in nearly five years, and I know prospects are pretty dismal everywhere right now. Things are about to get interesting for me.

The silver lining? At least I won't have to go through another of those corporate jerk-off sessions known as "performance appraisals."