Monday, February 5 2001
Everyone in my company walks around shooting sidelong glances as if they are nearing the end of the amount of time they can continue holding their breath. People try to ignore one another as they pass in the corridors. Nobody from HR gives anyone eye contact, though they're still full of cheery hellos. Welcome to the dotcom workplace in post-apocalyptic 2001!
Before deciding what to do next, everybody in my company is waiting around for end-of-the-year bonuses, which are supposedly imminent any day now. Nobody wants to leave until those bonuses arrive. After that, who knows what will happen?
Adding further stress to this situation is a pending "mandatory company meeting" which will take place tomorrow afternoon somewhere off site. Whatever that meeting is about, it can't possibly be good.
Later this afternoon, the other shoe dropped. We, the company, were told (in an unexpected moment of candor) that another fraction of our numbers would be laid off before tomorrow's meeting in a further effort to keep promises made to Wall Street. Once that email went out, dark clouds of suppressed panic really started gathering, completely negating the beautiful warm day outside. I don't think much work was done after that email went out. For my part, as I piddled around with the new XML-generating "user object," all I really wanted to do was pack up my cubicle and not have anything left for tomorrow should that be my final day. What's the point in working hard if it stands a good chance of being for naught?
Of course, it would be completely irrational to lay me off, I'm one of very few developers left on staff and my departure would surely kill off the UK subsidiary in an instant. But my experience with this company is that it never does anything in a rational way. Since I don't represent the status quo and I'm nobody's drinking buddy, I feel vulnerable. Further complicating matters, I don't have any US-based boss except the grand-CTO, who used to be the CTO for a much bigger company and was far too important, I thought, to so much as know my name. Today, though, he looked me in the eye and said my name, which made me feel a little better. Still, Jesus this shit is stressful. It's the kind of stress that makes you, for example, completely forget about your sexual frustration.
I came home and talked to Chun and John about the situation, and they were very sympathetic. Times are also tough at Chun's workplace (a dotcom over in the San Fernando Valley). Everyone in this industry is tightening their belts, updating their resumés, drinking heavily and taking lots of drugs. Jim Beam had a lot to do with my attitude as I wrote this entry for example.
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