Friday, February 27, 2009

What do you do when you get laid off? Get drunk at a train station. Of course.

Went in to my former employer yesterday to drop off my signed severance agreement and say goodbye to people. More layoffs had been going on, so I found out which of my co-workers were being let go. They were wiping out entire departments. Two women who'd been laid off decided to go out for a drink so we headed across the street to the local watering hole. It being only 11 am, it wasn't open yet.

"Man, are they losing out on a great opportunity today," I said.

We decided to head to Union Station; there is a bar in there, apparently, and it would allow the other two to be close to their trains.

We took a small table and announced to the bartender that we were there to celebrate being laid off. Several people at the bar toasted us, and one guy told us he'd been laid off four weeks ago.

"And you're still here?" I asked.

The former Manager, B, bought a pitcher of Miller Lite.

"Um..I'm not that much of a drinker..." I said. And I had a glass before me.

The Manager, B, proceeded to get trashed, and was hilarious. Happily married with two kids, she was flirting with guys as they walked by (the bar is in the corridor of the station - think airport bar), and having a generally good time.

The other girl, L, texted A, a former member of their department who'd been laid off in the second round, to tell her what was going on. They then called the Environmental team, with whom their department had worked (and who had not been laid off), and the four of that group joined us for a drink an hour later. One of the members is J, a guy who is slightly phobic about being touched, so of course, I gave him a big hug and kiss, which one of the others captured on his camera phone.

The bartender announced that A had called in and was buying a round of shots for everyone. Someone suggested something called a Buttery Nipple, and we all had a delicious combo of butterscotch schnapps and Bailey's. MMMM.

I'd been encouraging the other two laid-offers to look at this as an opportunity to make a new, fresh start, referencing Sex and the City (a quote by Elizabeth Taylor - "now is the time for guts and guile" inspired Charlotte out of a post-miscarriage depression, and I repeated it liberally.)

The Enviro manager, who is married with two children, apparently interpreted my optimism and cheerleading as an indication that losing my job in a recession won't really affect me. She announced that it was easier to be laid off if you were single. She caught my eye and repeated it, defensively "Well, it's true - it is easier."

I have a mortgage, property insurance, credit cards, hospital bills, dental bills, and all the ills that befall everyone else. But I'm the only one who pays these: my one income. Yes, I have flexibility, but it's not so much because I'm single, it's because I didn't build my entire life and debt on the premise that my income and situation would never change. I could have bought a larger, more modern condo. I could have a dishwasher, deck, in-unit washer and dryer, a dedicated parking space. And I could be freaking out right now about paying the mortgage.

I looked at the Enviro manager. "Well, I think it's a bit of a wash. You have less flexibility when you have a family, yes, but I don't have the possibility of a second income to fall back on to buffer the loss."

She agreed. Gosh, thanks for acknowledging that losing 100% of my household income (which is easily a third of hers) is a bit of a challenge.

They left; B went from happy drunk to teary maudlin drunk to rowdy drunk, announcing to me loud enough for the entire station to hear that she was going to find me a man.

"I'M GETTING YOU SOME DICK!" she crowed.

Guts. And Guile.

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