Saturday, December 04, 2010

Sunny...with a Chance of Rain

Sorry about the woe-is-me post, there, guys. I was getting the last little bits of my down mood out of me. I have been making a bigger effort to get out of the house and meet people and be busier, because that always puts me in a better mood. I have had a great week, actually. I think my prayers have finally been answered. I feel more optimistic and happy than I have in a long time.

Well, except for one thing.

Just as the proverbial sun has come out, along comes a little black rain cloud: they have started to have layoffs at the school where I work. I am pretty sure I am safe, along with at least most of my immediate coworkers. But it's a little tense right now. Upper administration isn't providing much information, so the rumor mill is going bonkers -- 100 people are getting laid off, one of our campuses is closing, bosses are forced to justify who they can keep... -- it's nuts. The only things I know for sure:

* 2 people have been laid off (but I'm pretty sure there are more)
* lots of people, from all kinds of departments, have to take2 weeks or a month's furlough
*most of the non-essential buildings around campus are closed (as in, no power or water) for the month

What makes me nervous is that we are getting no information, and since there's a school policy that prohibits us from talking to the media, there is nowhere for me to get info, other than the rumor mill. I am also concerned about the fact that they never offered to freeze/cut pay as a way to prevent layoffs -- does that mean we are past that as an option? I don't like that they have shut down power/water to most of the buildings on campus. That sounds really extreme and last-resort-y to me. I did some rough number crunching about how much $ this would save to shut down most of the buildings on campus for one month (long story as to how I have numbers to use!) -- it's about $350k. If they need more than that, exactly how bad is it?

Is this just round one? Is there more to come? Has the president cut her own salary and bonus? Who knows?! But I have my suspicions that things have been bad for a while and they just haven't told us. Our Hong Kong campus is not taking off like we thought it would. Anytime you start something like a new campus, you have to expect that it will be a little slow to get off the ground -- we were entering a new market, for Pete's sake. But I think they thought it would be gang busters, and they have been struggling since day one. Everyone knows it. I'm pretty sure they are WAY over budget and I get the feeling they didn't do their homework when they hatched this idea. One of the Admissions girls in Hong Kong told me that everyone assumed there would be all these mainland China people who would enroll, but they had just found out that anyone who wants to attend school in Hong Kong must wait a year before they can go -- there's some bureaucratic law/immigration rule that requires students to wait one year before going to Hong Kong. Which set us back in admissions BIG time. Then there were a few signs last spring that something was rotten in Denmark. But no one thought anything of it. Now it's adding up, at least in my head. I work at an expensive, private school. I guess the economy finally caught up to us. Why go to our school for $27k per year, when you can go to a state school for less?

For several reasons, the library should be mostly, if not entirely, unscathed in this. Which means we will all have survivor's guilt. Can you imagine losing your job 3 weeks before Christmas? I know one of the people who was laid off -- she's a mom with a son in college. That sucks. Just in case, I am definitely going to be trimming back on things. Luckily, I have a lot of vacation time saved up, so if there's a 2 week furlough, it shouldn't affect me. Guess it pays to never take days off! I have also saved some money -- enough to pay my bills for a month if I have to deal with a worst-case scenario.

I called my mom today to tell her about all this. She says that worst-case scenario, I break my lease, pack all my stuff, and move in with her. There are actually a couple of jobs open in my hometown right now in libraries there. Then she told me there is no point in worrying about it, because I can't do anything about decisions made above my head. Which is true.

The thing is with layoffs and financial troubles, it works like an onion -- you peel off layers until you have the core you need just to stay operating on a skeleton crew. And right now, I don't know what layers are being peeled off and I certainly don't know which layer I am in. I am pretty sure I am in a better state than the guy who shares my office. Boy, is he a piece of work! I need to post about him -- you guys would NOT believe how awful he is. I'm glad my big boss likes me. Hard work always pays off. Right?


Debbie said...

You are right, hard work usually pays off. It has to be scary not knowing.

I worked for a company one time that was bought out. They only kept 5 employees out of 30, and I was lucky enough to be one of them. It lasted a year. The company shut down 2 weeks after Christmas and we were ALL let go. It was awful because I was used to making $17 an hour and couldn't make it on minumum wage or unemployment benefits. I eventually found another job but being a single mother of 2, it was the roughest year financially I've ever gone through.

My 27 year old and her 2 1/2 year old daughter are moving back in with me this month. Because of the economy, she cannot make it financially on her own anymore. Luckily I own a 4 bedroom house and they will each have their own room.

I think more and more people will start moving back in with family in the next few years. We all need to do what is necessary to survive.

I hope everything works out for you and your co-workers! To hear these things around Christmas has to be very frustrating!

Smug said...

Glad that you are feeling brighter and posting more!

Sorry about the troubles at your school - I hope that it all works out as it should!

don said...

Whew! I was worried you'd gotten sold into prostitution when you went to Hong Kong..

I was in a pretty dark place last year too but my queen of cups came along from out of the blogosphere and now things are much nicer.

I think you ought to make your blog public again so more people can enjoy it like I do. I've thought that for a long time. You never know who might show up.

Virginia Belle said...

Debbie, I think you're right. We are in a pretty bad time right now, and who knows when it will get better? I think this is a time when we will all be called to support our friends and loved ones, in ways we never expected to before. I'm sure your daughter is so relieved that she can now focus on looking for work, because her kids have a roof over their head. I'll pray for you guys!

Smug -- Thanks, luckily I haven't heard of too much more. Just rumors. I'm betting that the fat lady has not sung yet, and some people will still be at risk. It sucks, but it's a sign of the times, unfortunately.

Don -- you crack me up! No, no prostitution for me. LOL And I would love to make my blog public again, but not while I have the job I currently have. I know I work for the kind of place where if I talk smack about my job, they would totally fire me. I don't even have to ask -- I know. So I could go public, if I don't talk about work at all and if I delete any old posts where I talk about work. Not really my scene, because there is a LOT of crap going on at work right now. Perhaps if I get a new job, I can make it public again.