Career Change

After a few years of teaching, and hating to be at the head of the classroom, I got hired as an intern and my tech-adjacent career began. My first tech employer had recently hit the big time, signing a contract with IBM, who liked the look of one of our expansion cards.

For three years we developed, manufactured, and debugged the heck out of that card. We grew from 30 people to 100; I was part of that hiring wave as the company looked to the future, fully intending to develop new products while that Big Blue money rolled in. Of course, we hoped the contract would be extended, but it was not to be. We’d gotten the kinks out of the process; IBM took manufacturing away from us and sent the board to an automated manufacturer who could stamp out thousands where we could produce dozens.

We’d outgrown our space in a renovated mill complex, and had sublet space in the building next door. The two buildings shared a metal fire escape. Only about a dozen of us worked in the extended space, and we each had a physical key to get in.

On the day of the layoff, our desk phones rang one by one, and we walked, one by  one, down our hallway, across the fire escape, and into the main building, to be told our jobs were gone.

And you know what? We had to, basically, climb over one of our own, one of the manufacturing guys, who’d been given the job of rekeying the lock that very day, that very morning, the task could not wait. We had to sidle past him as he knelt to work on the lock. The look on his face. I almost felt worse for him than for me. What a decent man.

That was my first experience of being laid off. In those days, you showed up at the Unemployment Office in Waltham to register. How I dreaded it, not knowing what to expect. And then I found, when I got there, my coworkers sprinkled through the long line! What recognition, what laughter, what mutual kindness.

There’s a second post about layoffs here.

December 6, 2020 COVID-19 Infections and Deaths

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