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Tuesday - Freed up some hours [Oct. 18th, 2008|11:49 am]

Well.. today I got laid off.  It’s disappointing, obviously.  In some ways I saw it coming, but in other ways it was a blow.  No two weeks notice, just sayonara, your health insurance is cancelled as of midnight.  Obviously I have mixed feelings.  I’ll always be grateful to Cision, then Bacon’s for giving me a job when I was so broke and desperate.  That being said, it hasn’t been a great job and over the years, especially the last two or so it’s gotten worse.  I would have to say that middle management never really ‘got’ me.  There was very little gratitude or encouragement at any point really.  I’d do things like climb eleven flights of stairs in the old address using a pocket lighter as my only source of light, to carry all the papers down to a coffee store.  Buy coffee (which I was not reimbursed for) make up the clips in my own apartment and then fax them the clips from an office store, so that they could keep the clips going out even after 911, and later even during the total blackout, and receive at best a perfunctory thanks and then they’d go right back to busting my chops about every little thing, including working for a couple of hours in my socks when my shoes were wet from a surprise rainstorm.  But while there were days when I did above and beyond there were other days when I admittedly did just enough to get by.  I got the work out, but sometimes worked it around my own schedule so I could do a rehearsal or a show and then go back late at night and finish.  I don’t think they were all that thrilled with that, although they never specificially complained about it.   Also I used the computers to occasionally do my own writing, and the xerox to copy scripts sometimes.  Obviously others did the similar things, but Cision 'management' made it clear they were not supportive of the arts, and were a LOT more sympathetic to those running off football pools or pictures of their dogs then they were to my creative efforts.  I was a bottom rung level 'supervisor' and got a little more money and privileges, but also a LOT more blame when things didn’t gel, even when clearly it was in no way my fault.  I started out doing a job I felt comfortable with, reading newspapers for clips and finding them and cutting them out, something I was very good at.  I read very fast and often found more clips than the entire Chicago office by myself.  But the job changed and the last few years it’s been more of a sweatshop, feeding newspapers into large bed scanners, which was nonintellectual hard physical work, which was killing my back and rotator cuffs.  And as they always did things in the cheapest possible way, I was always working with inferior equipment, not at maintained, so I’d have to kluge machine fixes with rubber bands and paperclips and run off things upside down so the machines would do what they were supposed to do.  When things got behind, I was the one who got blamed, even though I was the only one really, who would come in on a day off (and I only had one a week) or late at night to finish off some work but clearly no one ever appreciated that, and probably just thought I was weird or pulling something sneaky by doing it.  The others in my office, just showed up at the same time every day, did the bare minimum and then went home whether things were done or not.  And as at the Bear Stearns job, I guess I should have gotten the message, that that’s what they wanted, and I should have probably just did that.  Obviously it’s not fun thinking about looking for work again at my age and having to make at least as much money and probably more, at an entry level job just to pay my bills.  On the other hand, Cision obviously was a dead end opportunity, no opportunity for advancement, no one except a few people in low level positions were ever very nice to me, even on the most basic levels and I got tired of that.  I also got tired of having every encounter with management be hostile and intimidating, and usually with them busting my chops over EXTREMELY petty things, and of course, giving me a hard time for stuff that everyone was doing, and no one else was getting a hard time for doing.  For instance there was literally a television in every cubicle which people could watch, I guess the thinking was, that this was somehow job related, although I don’t really know why.  And yet when I brought in my computer to watch videos while I was feeding pages through the scanner, I was treated like a criminal, and told not to do it.  I’m still trying to figure that one out.  I was never given a voice in personnel decisions, management thought nothing of going around me, to reward or rarely punish anyone, and so the employees did as well.  All the people who I told my supervisor were not doing their job, kept their job until they finally got so cocky they didn’t bother showing up for work, or did some spectacular melt down, and that wasn’t fun.  It’s hard to manage people when you are consciously stripped of any real power over them.  They felt throughout that not only the other people in the department and I were interchangable, but every time they hired someone they not only felt, but proudly told me in many cases, that they were supervisory potential and in a couple of cases almost gave the game away, basically implying I should train them to do my job so they could fire me.  I took some compensation out of the fact that these people inevitably showed themselves to be complete incompents, or moody violent loners, but after it happened more than a few times it lost any amusement value.  And the last couple of years or so, with cutbacks (they pulled out water coolers and turned off refrigerators and snack machines to save a few cents on energy) there was the constant worry that any moment I could be, like others I knew, laid off as the job continued to be cut back.  I hesitated to take vacation time even when my Dad died for fear they would use it as an excuse to terminate me.  At the end of the day, all the worry was making it hard to feel anything positive about the job, so I guess I can finally begin making the separation and move on.  All that being said, it’s tough to have things end this way.  It could be worse, they could have trumped something up and fired me for cause, although I really don’t think I gave them any.  This way I get a small severance package and unemployment.  If I can’t find something pretty quickly, it’ll be tough, but hopefully I can get unemployment and wait to really look for other work until the end of the TNC show and then I’ll have to put on a full court press.  Meg D thought I might be able to get something temporary up by her, which would be great, if it works out.  It’ll be good in some ways not to bave a six day a week job, with split shifts.  I had some flexibility for theater work, but was exhausted all the time.  If I have to take something that cuts into my theater time, I’ll have to live with that.  Because I wasn’t making a lot of money I may be able to make as much an hour at a lower level job.  Obviously I’m not thrilled about starting over again - probably at the bottom, but maybe I can find a nicer work environment or temp for a while and maybe have at least a few changes of scenery.  It’s initially a punch in the gut, but let’s hope I end up doing something which I enjoy more, or at least feel better about going to each day.


Called the MTA Lost and Found today and my lost black shoulder bag hasn’t shown up.  The landlord called wondering when they could receive my rent check.  I said next week (my last official paycheck) and I complained again about no hot water, and they said they would send someone tomorrow.  Well, it’s not like I’ll be at work.



An obscure Bogart film where he plays the executive of a radio station which in effects ruins a family’s lives for ratings.  Not a bad story, although from our point of view, not a new one.  He’s good and the mostly little known cast delivers a solid b picture.



[User Picture]From: viizou
2008-10-18 07:43 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear this. Even though it wasn't your dream job, this sort of thing is always unpleasant, especially if you've been working there a long time. I really hope you find something that suits you better, really soon. Good luck to you.
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[User Picture]From: tomt2
2008-10-19 12:50 am (UTC)

Work! I feel like Maynard Krebs!

Thanks, Vizou. I appreciate your kind words. I'm doing a play until the end of (American) Thanksgiving, and then I guess I'll have to bring my resume up to date, comb what's left of my hair and go look for some other employer to annoy with my presence. For now, it's kind of fun to be just a theater person for a few weeks.

Funny that you and Parker are already singing Christmas Carols. Here it's all Halloween all the time. The theater I'm working at, Theater for the New City, is famous for turning its plant into a haunted house and Halloween-themed Grand Guignol (complete with bloody Banquos and handless Lavinias from Titus Andronicus) this time of year. For once the bloodstains and cobwebs that adorn the theater all year around, are appropriate. We can't really compete with the big day of Halloween party in the West Village, but it's free, and you can eat your weight in candy corn. Of course that means us stepping over drunken goons and sleeping witches, for a few days as we try to rehearse that weekend, but again, it's not much different than rehearsing there the rest of the year.
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[User Picture]From: viizou
2008-10-19 03:12 am (UTC)

Re: Work! I feel like Maynard Krebs!

Oh, no one except us is singing Christmas carols, we're just weird that way. Thanksgiving is already over in Canada, and there are traces of Halloween here and there, although not as many as I'm used to - must be that the economy is scary enough. Personally, I'm mostly looking forward to November 1st, for two reasons: 1) only one month of class left; 2) discounts on miniature candy bags and chocolate bars.

Enjoy your time as a hardcore sufffering artiste!
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