October 18th, 2002



My mom got laid off from her job yesterday. She called me just as I was leaving work to tell me she got "downsized" because the department she was working in is not producing the money like they used to. She's going to work for two more weeks, get paid through the end of November and have health insurance until then as well. Sounds like a pretty sweet severance to me.

Mom is devastated. She kept repeating that she had never been fired before. I told her that being laid off isn't the same as being fired; it's not like she did anything wrong, and from the sound of her severance, they're sad to see her go. She's going through the usual "crystal ball" regrets: she had recently refinanced her mortgage from thirty to fifteen years, increasing her payments by $100 a month (but still a payment most of us would kill to have), she's kicking herself wondering if there were signs she missed and is angry at herself for being gullible enough to miss them.

I on the other hand, feel like this could be the best thing that ever happened to her. Her job sucked. Her boss was a mewling baby. They paid her a salary that barely qualifies as entry-level. She's got nearly twenty years of experience; she can really step up. Mom is concerned that no one is going to hire a fifty-five year-old, no matter how much experience she has, that she knows she won't be able to live on her social security alone and her current job offered a pension, something she was desperately trying to hold on to. "I just can't believe I got fired."

I realized after telling her again that she didn't get fired but laid off that I can't think of more than ten people I know that have never been laid off before. And most of the people I'm thinking of have been in the workplace for less than five years. Folks in my mom's generation worked the same job for thirty years and if they got laid off it was a huge deal. This has got to be more startling and scary for her than I could ever imagine. Probably about as scary as the idea of working at the same place for thirty years is to me. But I still think she's going to make it. In my extensive job searches, I have seen time and time again ads for Executive Assistants with ten years' experience. She's going to be fine.
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