Life On Survivor Island
I wish I had watched \"Survivor\" more often. Maybe I
could understand how it felt to be the last man on the
island, I could use more references to the show, maybe
use more inside jokes that only the people who watch
that show would understand to help me with this
story. I am happy to report I\'m still on the
\"dot.com\" survivor island, no one has voted me off, and
I haven\'t packed up my gear and gone home of my free
will (I\'m still hoping that\'s how this one will end).
As some of you may know I work at a small (and
getting smaller) dot.com startup. You\'ve probably
noticed that all the news stories on the dot.com world
has been focused on layoffs lately, and this one will be
I made the cut again. Round 2 (or 3 depending on how
you count) was the deepest YET.
It used to be exciting working here because
Monday mornings would bring 5 or 10 new faces, trying
to find a chair, or looking for an open computer. Now it\'s
exciting because I never know who will be in charge, or
if I\'ll even have a job.
The first round of layoffs happened a few weeks ago. It
was a bit of a surprise, but no one was completely
shocked, it almost felt good. We were now doing what
everyone else was doing, we were laying off! There
were a few tears, but for the most part, we all saw it
coming. We had just merged with another dot.com
startup so we all new that a few people would get it.
Most of the people that got cut were just in unlucky
The next round came slowly. The past few weeks have
brought some high level defections, we lost several of
our \"O\'s\". A CEO here, a CMO, maybe a COO, CIO, and
a couple other O\'s, I\'m not even sure what they did, one
day they were here, the next day... poof, \"No Longer with
the company, differing business opinions\".
Then I got a call last night. It\'s never good to get a call
from the boss, at home, on Sunday night. To make
things worse, it took him a minute or so to get to the
point, so for a minute (that felt like an hour) or so I
thought for sure I was getting the ax. He came to the
point eventually, and said that allot of my friends
wouldn\'t be here on Monday, but I was OK.
This morning, the survivors got here a little early, just to
see what we could see. Kind of like the first few people
on the scene of a horrible car crash.
We were greeted by a brand new security guard. A
snot nosed punk that gave everyone dirty looks stood
stoically at attention by the front door, no doubt standing
gaurd against any dot.com revenge. For some reason
that gaurd only helped make me feel less secure.
Past the gaurd, the survivors talked about who was
here, and who wasn\'t. Each time someone walked in
they were greeted with a hearty \"Good Morning, Good
To See YOU\"!. With each new arrival we
learned who had been voted off, and who had made it
through. A company wide meeting was called at 9:30,
so we didn\'t have much time to guess at the specific
victims yet. There was even some heroic talk of giving
up a remaining position for a single mother laid off, \"I
can take it, she needs the money dude\", but nothing
came of it. A nice thought though.
Then just before the meeting someone who
HAD actually been laid off made it through the
useless security guard that had been placed
strategically at the front door and wandered over to his
desk and muttered something under his breathe. He
then noticed all his personal items were in boxes. It
was at about this point that our conversation stopped in
mid-sentence. It was like seeing a dead person, not
even a ghost, but a dead person walking through our
office. We just stared at him, not sure what to say or
what to expect. He took his jacket off, put it back on, and
then just floated back out the door. It was
uncomfortable to say the least. Best just to pretended it
Quickly pretending it never happened we were back at
our chattering until we had to assemble with the rest of
the survivors for our \"tribal meeting\". This meeting was
different than the other meetings I\'ve been to, this one
was less cheery, somehow colder, more matter of fact
than even the previous lay off meeting.
People are gone, we are all going to be gone
unless we can get it right this time. Those who are left
are the best of the best.
The meeting went on for about an hour and a half, with
all the usual things we\'ve heard before...
we are going to make it, everything will be fine,
these are the last cuts, these cuts all make us stronger
And again I think we all (at least most of us) bought it.
By the end of the meeting I had gone from writing my
resume, to feeling guilty for taking a sick day last week.
Every second I spend in this meeting is once second I
am not coding, let me go! let me save the company,
you\'re right, it is up to me, I can make a difference!!
Our president can really rally the troops.
After the meeting the cliques re-formed and the
whispering began. Each group talked about those who
have left us, how awful it must be, how lucky we are.
Who exactly had been let go was now aided by the new
organizational chart, we could see our new places in
the SuperModel-thin org chart, mine is at the very
bottom. Slowly the whispers turned to regular
conversations, and even laughter. The type of laughter
you hear at a wake, sort of muffled, and controlled. The
mood for the rest of the day here was like we all just
went to a wake, we all question our own mortality and
talk about those who are not with us any more, those
who worked so hard, only to die so young. I wonder if
this is how it feels to work or live in a nursing home,
where people are dying and leaving all the time. All day
it was eerily quiet in the office, not just because we
have a couple dozen less employees, but those of us
left behind used every precocious second to bring our
projects up to speed, to get the job done, to make sure
we weren\'t next.
This is exactly what I signed on for, this type of
craziness and uncertainty is exactly what makes this
job perfect for me, at this time in my life. This is why I
left the library behind, to become part of all this, before
all this is all gone. I may have been late to the game,
but at least I was part of the fun while it lasted.
How much longer I can take this is unclear to me right
now (I think not much longer). I enjoy change, a
challenge, and an exciting work environment, but there
comes a time when it all becomes to much, and I\'ll
return to the piece and quiet of the library, where I can
spend all my time stamping books and shushing the
rowdy patrons, after all, nothing ever changes in the
And just in case you can make that change happen, I\'d
be happy to send along a copy of my resume.
To borrow a phrase ---
I leave you now, the Dot-Calm-Guy