Down and Up
Downsizing is a very unpleasant topic to discuss and painful to recount so let us stop it and budge a bit on that awful subject with this chapter.
Some of the terminated manage to land on their feet quickly. Some never land at all and are destroyed and may end up at Home Depot walking the floor instead of a “cushy” office job at largecorp.
Many just have a very long slog punctuated by near misses which are terribly morally deflationary. I had one of those long slogs. So long in fact my severance ran out and I ended up on Unemployment Insurance! Talk about a low blow!
My rock bottom was at a friend’s estate north of Toronto. A beautiful New Year’s Eve evening. I went out for a solitary walk along a dirt road walking in the fresh snow with the rays of the moon turning the white snow into a brilliant blue. Dinner had been wonderful with several glasses of good red wine. And in the afternoon a few beers watching college football. So with the alcohol and scenery it was a brief escape from my moral misery.
I arrived back in time for a joyous countdown and our hosts happily celebrating the arrival of the New Year. My spirits sunk so very quickly that all I wanted to do was cry. Pretending to be celebratory was a heroic acting feat but I was close to thinking about the best method of suicide. I had reached bottom.
And then several weeks later I was in the midst of cleaning the house and the telephone rang. It was from the head lawyer at an insurance company regulator I had had several interactions with none of which was particularly amicable. I could hardly believe what I heard and that was a contract offer for 6 months with this regulator.
“You have the job but please can you drop by today for a meeting so it looks like we had an interview.” So indeed, I did drop by for a chat which really was can you start on Monday!
This all happened without me ever applying for the job.
And it becomes even more bizarre. The head of this regulatory body, Mr. Stone, had once convened insurance companies to a meeting where he discussed proposed legislation that would affect how insurance companies were offering investment products to pension funds.
The proposed legislation was onerous and CRAP’s regulatory compliance area missed the boat on this proposed legislation so I was brought into the meeting at the last moment.
CRAP’s competitors started to present their plans on how to comply with this legislation and I halted their presentation by addressing the head regulator, Mr. Stone, and challenging his authority to enact such legislation. I asked for some time to consult with external legal counsel on his jurisdiction to enact such legislation.
Boy he looked very pissed!
I did consult with external legal counsel and he agreed about the lack of power of this regulator to enact this insurance company legislation. I managed to get the CRAP competitor capitulators onboard to offer to have our counsel draft some legislation that was far less onerous for insurance companies than that which had been proposed by the regulator. Stone accepted the draft and legislation was passed using our counsel’s draft. I helped insurance companies escape onerous obligations. I still look at this legislation and said to myself what I had done was courageous and brilliant.
I asked my contract offer saviour why you chose me without going through any interview process. Much to my surprise she said that Stone had recommended me! A big cheese regulator I had challenged personally recommended, if not ordered, I be hired for this contract position.
A perceived enemy being a big supporter blew me away. Somewhat like a Hollywood script. Stand up. Challenge and be rewarded.
Holy shit! Employed and back on my feet without even trying.
And being employed makes it so much easier to land another position.
This contract position really was rather boring but unlike largecorp it was 9-5. Not particularly challenging and I really couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do but being the government, no one seemed to care!
However I was up on my feet and back on the hunt which is far better than crying on New Year’s Eve and contemplating suicide.