Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Job Nervous

 I am getting nervous about my job.

Oh, nothing so clear as an actual concern.  No bad announcements.  No bad financial or data.  No concerns  because a host of people have suddenly left. Everything is cheerily moving forward.

But still, nervous.

Maybe it is a sign of the times -after all, while there is (from what I read) any number of positions open in any number of industries, I get the sense that all of this is very fragile.  And the industry I am in is sometimes more fragile than most - as I explained to someone once, the Biopharmaceutical industry is a lot like playing a game of craps:  one rolls the dice and then hopes for a good development before the dice stopping rolling.

I have been laid off once and gone through rounds of layoffs more than once, so I do not completely discount my feelings as "just nervousness" though.  I have been too often correct - not in precisely timing of course, but in overall direction: I might not have called when layoffs were happening, but I knew they were coming.

What does not help, of course, is that working away from the office, one misses the usual signs:  meetings that happen with rather important people that are mysterious, odd and unusual involvement from HR "all of a sudden", and the somewhat valuable Grape Vine which does not necessarily always have precise information, but often has a general sense of things on the ground in a way that management will never convey.  One is very isolated, and I acknowledge that isolation can give rise to some otherwise unusual theories.

In all my years of Quality, one sense that one develops - or does not - is the ability to read between the lines, to hear the thing unsaid, to sense there is a problem before the problem completely manifests itself.  That sense, once developed, is not only for the execution of one's job - given time and practice, it will work for many things.

I cannot tell you specifically why I am worried.  Only that I am worried.


  1. Anonymous4:24 AM

    Everybody is walking on egg shells. My coworkers and I were lucky to stay employed during the entirety of COVID-19. Those who were laid off (some permanently) still aren't back to speed. A lot of plans delayed or abandoned due to inability to save for the future).

    Back in early 1940's, my Dad's experience was the same but instead of COVID, it was polio. He said you could stand on a street corner and looking all 4 directions, could see a victim of polio limping along. School summer and Christmas breaks often had news of someone striken down. Dad said Jonas Salk's cure was considered God sent - a huge worry lifted from our shoulders.

    I hear WHO is beginning to admit that COVID is likely to be around a very long time, possibly the rest of our lives. The mutations keep coming and we just can't keep up with its progress.

    Just like polio.

    1. Anonymous - It does feel like eggshells. That is a very apt comparison. We have fortunately not had layoffs, but working in the current environment almost has an air of unreality to it, a tenuousness which feels like it could break with a sneeze.

      Polio is an interesting analog - I wonder if, in years to come, we will see individuals that have the long haul version (as it is now defined) in the same light. The difference being, of course, I suspect the long term historical view of the vaccines will not be as glowing.

      WHO has quite seemed to be behind the eight ball on this. We are already up to variant Mu now - literally 13 different variants in approximately two years. Based on that frequency of mutation, it will be around for a very long time indeed. One wishes we were sinking as much effort into treatment options as we were on vaccines which are demonstrating limited capacity.

    2. Ever the skeptic/cynic, I've concluded that the treatments are out there, and undeniable. Which begs a myriad of questions about vaccinations, lockdowns, masks, and pandemics in general.

    3. It certainly does, Just So. We have moved directly to vaccine and now, given what we know, seems we should have spent the same amount of time on treatment.

    4. That also brings up an interesting comparison to polio as well. Polio was beaten by development of an effective vaccine, and almost universal vaccination. In fact, the world is close to wiping out polio much like smallpox.

    5. The word "effective" sticks out in your comments NM. Which, of course, it appears more and more currently available technologies are only partially effective.

  2. It is a bit weird on my end of the comment box, too. I've stopped my project planning for anything work related. The recovery end point keeps slipping into the future. I can fully understand your senses firing off. These are really weird times. Times we need to trust the gut.

    1. STxAR, it is very hard to plan under the current circumstances. On the one hand, things see to be moving along okay, yet at the same time I feel like there are vast undercurrents that are going on around me. I know I have no control of these; it disturbs me I cannot predict their impact more clearly.

  3. I am so glad I'm not in your position anymore. I hated those days spent with that feeling and waiting for the hammer to fall.

    1. Ed, it is certainly not enjoyable. I am not nervous in the sense I was nervous in 2009 - we can weather a bit of a storm - but it essentially makes me feel like any sort of plans are almost a useless exercise.

  4. I can retire early at 60% of my current income, escape the city, move home to the country and live pretty comfortably. The problem is that there is no real belief that the retirement will be there 2 months from now, or 2 years from now. What will prevent the government from "nationalizing" funded retirement accounts? Nothing. There is no end to the "Great Reset".

    What work will be out there for any of us?
    Can you work for cash in a cashless society?
    Do you have skills? Barter-able skills?
    What happens when you are deemed an "outcaste" from society?

    These are all really pressing concerns. No joking, no kidding.
    The future could be ghastly for all of us.

    1. Just So - The only small bit of gratitude I have for the general situation is that my parents will not have to suffer through this period - they are provided for.

      It does make the rest of it hard though. I am trying to bridge the gap between acting as if the system will be there for another twenty years and acting as if things will collapse next week. It creates a great deal of tension.

      Everything I am doing could (literally) be swept away tomorrow. 401k confiscated (more likely "transformed" into government bonds), Social Security defunded, health care removed/stripped/nationalized, property redistributed. All of these are not theoretical constructs in my mind. One prepares the best one can given the circumstances.

  5. The good thing is you have somewhere you can go and probably live well.
    The nest is more or less empty now?
    So you can take the savings and finalize the family home.

    Be safe and God bless you all.

    1. Two more years, Linda. So not quite there yet, but close.

      Yes, we do have somewhere we can go - although the thought of another move makes me shudder.

  6. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Reading the post & comments above - "eggshells" rings very true for my experience down here.

    A few weeks back, we had a major restructure at work (a small govt dept). For once, most of the toxic and useless placeholders in upper management were culled. We plebeians thought the worst had passed. Two days ago, almost 30 permanent jobs were "delimited".

    We'd never heard of being "delimited" either. But don't worry it was a net positive, because they have just created just over 30 new jobs! Those whose roles were "delimited" are strongly encouraged to apply for the new roles. Many people with over 20+ years of service were "delimited" just like that.

    I survived this time, simply by pure luck, but for how much longer?

    Taking all the obvious precautions and expecting the worst - hopefully won't come to that but fortune favours the prepared mind.



    1. KA - Among the many things that perhaps in some future eternity I will come to understand is the phrasing of Human Resources. Originally it was "layoffs", then it was "downsizing" or "resource adjusting". The phrase "delimited" is new to me but apparently means the same thing.

      The concept of letting people go and then suggesting they apply for the new jobs seems not only a slap in the face, but quite a waste of time and resources - why not just eliminate the old positions and put people into new ones? This I have seen done before and while it can be disruptive, at least the application/interview cycle is eliminated.

      Grateful that you escaped the hatchet this time - but as you say, how long? Organizations that do it once will usually do it again.

      All we can do is prepare for the inevitable as best can. Good on you for being aware.

      Your Obedient Servant, Toirdhealbheach Beucial

  7. Once the Spider sense starts attention

    1. Agreed, B49. I have been wrong in the timing of such things, but seldom that they were happening.

      Thanks for stopping by.


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