Last day. Capricorn 29’s. Year of the city 2274. Carousel begins.
In Logan’s Run, upon their thirtieth birthday, everyone was on their last day, where they would enter into a ceremony called carousel in which they would undergo renewal and be reborn. In reality, nobody was ever renewed.
Today is my last day at work. I won’t be coming in to this office anymore; my renewal will be with another firm. For the first time in my seventeen year working career, I am out of a job. I’ve been retrenched and next week will be unemployed.
Technically, this is still my first post-college job, although I’m on my fifth company. I’ve survived numerous layoffs, mergers and acquisitions, and sell-offs, and have always been part and parcel of every transaction that saw the company name or ownership change. This latest development is the company principal wanting to do a drastic head count reduction. I saw this company go from a start-up in my boss’ home’s basement to being acquired by a near billion dollar company, and then being sold off again as small, lean, entrepreneurial firm, and now a company in shambles as it tries to operate with an understaffed IT group trying to pick up the pieces of the esoteric and complex processes that I dealt with everyday for the last few years in my cube.
Packing my belongings from my cube, I find the old reminders of the early days at the company. There is the superball that we used to randomly throw over the cubicle walls hoping that it would land or bounce onto a developer’s keyboard. There is also the small, hollow tube that I used as a blowpipe shooting wads of paper at the other programmers in the office. So, the denouement of my history at this job are the knick-knacks and toys that pack into a simple cardboard box, which I carry with me on my last exit from the building.
As of today, I have one more month of employment, after which I will be retrenched.
I’m not entirely certain what I should be doing at the office during this last month. Should I keep working on the initiatives on which I’ve been working, knowing that I probably won’t be able to complete them in time, and that it’s unlikely that any other programmer will pick up the effort after I leave? Most of my code deals with configuration management; it’s not customer facing. So it’s not like if I don’t finish my work, a customer will notice its absence and demand its implementation. My work deals with configuration management and comes into play when changes need to be made to the database: my code makes managing rolling out these changes easier, more reliable, and more robust. At least I’m not getting a slap in the face by being tasked to train-up an employee or outsourced employee who is replacing me at a lower salary.
On the other hand, it is a bit of a refreshing feeling, coming in to work and knowing that I can largely skive and get away with it, since no one will really be gauging my productivity anymore, and I can spend my day working on my resume and looking for a new job. But still, it leaves me with an uneasy feeling that I’m about to go out without a safety net, and not having a job for much longer.
The head-count reduction that the company principal wanted may be going deeper than he anticipated. He’s let go of about half the development team, added to those who have voluntarily jumped ship on the first hint of lay-offs in the pipeline, plus those of us still here but actively searching for new jobs because we don’t see any future in the company anymore. Whomever is left, which may be down to a number you can count on one hand and possibly one finger, is really only enough staff to come in everyday to monitor for problems and reboot the servers if things do go wrong.