29

So, how do I react to the news that I have been surplused? It’s not like it’s a surprise: the rumors have been fast and furious for about six months now, all that the news in the local on-line newspapers did was confirm the rumors. Not, of course, that management had the moral courage (aka “balls”) to tell the employees before they read about it online (or, in my case, before my mother sent me the URL).

True, the loss of the paycheck, and therefore the lifestyle I had come to enjoy is a big deal. No doubt putting the house on the market and trying to find another paycheck came earlier than my plans; but, what are my plans when compared to those of the corporate club? Clearly, nothing. Nothing at all.

But, this is the endgame. 29 years ago, the company recruited me out of a university in the Midwest and paid all relocation expenses to move my family and me to the Pacific Northwest. Now, my job here in Puget Sound no longer exists, and if I choose, I can apply for the same job in Southern California – at far less pay, in a state with a much, much higher cost of living. Granted, at the company’s discretion, I am paid far more now than then (my federal income taxes now are greater than my gross salary then), but I am conceited enough to think that I have learned a thing or two along the way and have more value – bring more to the table – than I did. Silly me.

If you think about that fable of the ant and the grasshopper, I am the ant; but I didn’t expect to be put out to pasture this soon. At age 60, I was planning on another ten-to-fifteen years of useful contribution (I like my job, sorry). All these years of building relationships with customers that shell out millions of dollars to buy a product that lasts for twenty or more years? Down the drain. How important are those customers now? Hell, I have a family to feed and a mortgage to pay; the customers can go pound sand.

All that practical stuff aside, it is the subterfuge, the lying, the equivocation that gets my knickers in a knot. I have never subscribed to the philosophy that those in the club were my betters, despite their constant reminders. I know I did not need to sign an “ethics challenge” year after year because some corporate vice-president made promises to a Pentagon buyer (and by email no less – what a maroon!). Fast forward to “geographical diversification” and I know of a second level manager that took a “company business trip” to look for housing in Southern California – and this was weeks ago. If customer service is the “crown jewel” of the company, why move it? Evidently, whatever my co-workers and I have cobbled together despite corporate greed, it’s working by their admission. Hey, if it ain’t broken…you know the rest.

It is the stringing us along, so we don’t bolt – i.e., look after Number One as our supposed betters are doing – that sticks in my craw. “You’re valuable,” “you’re essential”, “you’re the crown jewel” – so let’s move! Wow! Whadda concept. Take the recent Superbowl Seattle Seahawks or whoever won the Stanley Cup or the World Series, and change everything! Release all the players, dismiss the coaches. Who would ever expect a strategy like that? Certainly not Airbus. No doubt they have been caught completely off-guard and will never recover.

History will not be kind.

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