Layoff

Thursday morning I was talking with Dan about my book and how many copies I wanted to order myself. 100? 500? He looked a bit squirmish and said, “Maybe we should wait and see what happens today. Microsoft just announced that they’re laying off 18,000 people.”

That is a number larger than five.

He went to work and called around 11am to say he was pretty sure the ax was going to fall in his general direction. He had an ominous meeting request at 1:00. We both knew what was coming. I went next door to my neighbor’s house to hug and cry and then I cleaned my house for two and half hours and forgot to eat.

And then the ax fell and we talked and I cried and we both commenced an involuntary job-loss-induced cleanse, netting me a 4 pound weight loss in a single day. Drop of Awesome!

I immediately texted our family and after they’d responded, I promptly put a note on Facebook, announcing the great news:

“Friends and family. Good news. Dan Thompson, possibly the world’s greatest code-writing ninja, is available to come and write code for your company, preferably a software shop based in the Seattle area. He was a casualty of the massive layoffs at Microsoft today and a free agent for the first time in eleven years.”

The outpouring of love, support, and most importantly job leads was insane. It was like Dan got to attend his own funeral and listen to the eulogies and the eulogies were so awesome that several people offered to bring him back to life and to a better life than he had previously been living.

One friend texted from his vacation in Hawaii, setting up a phone interview with his company. Others from around the country offered any options they could think of and everyone who’s worked with Dan let him know just how sad and shocked they were that he was affected by the layoffs and how great it had been to work with him.

And they are right. Dan is awesome. I have no doubt that he will be employed again very quickly.

But there’s still a mourning period. He was recruited by Microsoft at a career fair at BYU and he’s never even switched groups over the last eleven years, although the people and products around him have changed many times. This is the only big-kid career he’s ever known and to have the ax fall is pretty traumatic. And we still like Microsoft. Overall, the company has been very good to us and we believe in many of their products. For example, you’ll have to pry my Windows Phone from my cold dead hands before I’d switch back to an android device (Sorry Google peeps who may be interviewing Dan next week. I’m sure you’re simply lovely.)

It’s like being dumped by your high school sweetheart, who you still kind of have the hots for even after all these years. It eats rocks.

And then there’s the momentary financial insecurity. We have decent severance and savings accounts. But I don’t want to dip into our savings accounts and I don’t want to have a paycheck end date.

I spent much of the afternoon Friday canceling non-essentials. Yard care, pest control, milk delivery, etc. Each person I’d call would ask if I was displeased with the service and each time I’d muffle a sob and say, “No. You’re great. My husband lost his job today.” While I was on the porch making these calls away from my children’s ears, a UPS truck showed up with an Amazon package of something we didn’t need. I declined the order. It felt kind of powerful to say, “I can do without.” (Sorry Amazon execs who may be interviewing Dan next week. I’ll reorder it after you offer him a job.)

Taking my neighbor’s advice, we decided to tell the kids enough to keep them informed but spin it in a positive way.

“This is a good time to see how blessed we are that we prepared for things like this so we won’t have to worry about money while dad looks for a job.”

“Will you help us think of creative ways that we can save money so we won’t even have to use the emergency savings?”

I told them that the reason I was crying was not because we were worried about finding a new job because logically we’re not. I told them I was crying because something good was ending and something good IS ending.

In a crazy scheduling coincidence, we ended up watching our friends’ two kids overnight the night Dan was laid off and all day today.

So, today, on Dan’s last day with a badge, we hit the Microsoft Campus with gusto and a couple of friends in tow for a self-proclaimed layoff party.

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We drank free soda and chocolate milk and ate at our favorite campus restaurant.

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We played in the fountains and with the electronics in the company museum.

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We took pictures and helped dad pack up his cereal, and awards and rubber ducks.

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We made echos in the parking garage.

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And we danced.

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People were nice as we left, but sort of awkward with their faces awash in survivor’s guilt. Smile sheepishly and look away as Dan parades by with his earthly possessions packed into boxes carried by our, three, wait, five, pathetic, smiling children. It was all very dramatic and Tiny-Tim-ish. On the elevator, a coworker murmured condolences and Wanda beamed up at him and said in chipper excitement, “My dad isn’t going to work here anymore!”

Awkward silence.

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When we were alone, Dan coughed into his hand and said, *cough* *cough* “Buy me last pape?”

We laughed so hard tonight thinking about it. Bringing the extra kids in for our grand exit was so money.

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It’s been a great eleven years, but he was about due for a change. Good things are coming our way, we can feel it. So long Microsoft! May your nerdery ever be fruitful and your chocolate milk flow free.

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Past Posts About Microsoft

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