It's a Living: Part I: David's Saga. Episode 2: Layoff

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In the previous episode, the Big Enchilada told David to report to the conference room.

David feigned confidence as he strode into the room. The others was already there--16 people. "What a waste--16 people in a meeting?! With that many, everyone knows they're not important. Why doesn't she just send an email?"

In a meager sop to flattened hierarchy, The Big Enchilada sat in the middle instead of at the head of the still rectangular table.

David noticed that most of the employees there were good ones, so he was relieved. "Good, it's probably not a mass firing. But something's up. This doesn't feel like one of those dog-and-pony show, CYA meetings. People are sitting straighter."

He was right. Big Enchilada said, "Headquarters needs to reduce headcount again. We need to cut five more. I don't want to do it unilaterally (another sop to flattened hierarchy) so let's brainstorm who. I need to stress that these are all good people, we'll give them a good reference and..."

David couldn't bear it: "Stop with the 'how great the corporation is' and let's get on with it."

The others weren't surprised at David's outburst. It was quintessential David and only he, resident rock star, could get away with it. A lesser light would long have been "laid off" as "not a team player," "lacking people skills," or some other euphemism for being too honest to fit into the typical workplace.

The hatchet squad put all the Possibles under the microscope. Some were spared on competence and drive but other criteria were also considered. "She's young blood. I'd hate to let her go." and "We can't afford to lose an African-American. They're underrepresented, plus if we cut him, there's a chance he'll sue. We have less risk with a white." David was tempted to say "White privilege, my ass." But in today's environment, he knew that, even for him, that was risky.

In less than an hour, the goners had been picked. David found some solace in the fact that most of the good ones will get snapped up elsewhere. "The others will get unemployment." But then he realized that he thought of his friend who, every time the government extended unemployment said, "Good, now I don't have to look for a job for another few months. Or at least I can hold out for a really good job. Working people paying to discourage the unemployed from looking for work or accepting only ideal work? That's Alice-in-Wonderland."

David trudged--at that moment, a trudge could be forgiven--back to his cube but couldn't make himself focus: "Who cares what would explain more variance in 12-16-year old's Facebook-linked t-shirt purchases?" But reminded that if he stopped being so productive, he too could be axed, he forced himself to stare at the file...until Mike, one of those on death row, trudged, yes trudged, into his cube.

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