I know it’s a cliche but….

16 02 2009

So I got to go to see the start of the first stage of the Amgen Tour of California yesterday while visiting family here in Davis. I am not going to rehash all the stories, but it marks the return of Lance Armstrong to his racing career among other things. And while I was sitting on the patio at Steve’s Place (anyone from Davis will know what I am talking about) watching the peloton zip by a couple of times, I realized a couple of important things.

First, my personal challenges are pretty minor comparatively speaking. While I need a new job, that just makes me pretty ordinary, if all the recent (bad) news stories are to be believed. I am one of thousands (millions?) who is affected by the economy or lack there of, and needs to figure out what to do next. People with stories like Lance Armstrong are extraordinary. Someone who comes back from cancer and wins the Tour de France 7 times, or even the ordinary rider who just ekes his way onto the team for the opportunity to ride for little or no pay because he loves what he does. These are great examples of how to live life.

My day was extraordinary because I got to spend it with my family, and they are supportive of me no matter what I do. In fact, my brother got me very excited by agreeing with me that going back to school full time for the next couple of years might be the best option for me. But I am truly starting to realize that I was too caught up in my work and letting my employer define who I was, and not what I could do. I want to be a great family member first, and just have a job that allows me the freedom to do just that.

I was caught up in the myth that my employer’s so called social responsibility made me a better person just because I worked there. Instead, I found out that they were no different than anyone else, and in the end I lost my job because they needed to maximize their profits. So I am no longer looking for any potential employer to provide me with anything other than a paycheck. As an employee, I will represent them honorably on the clock, but am no longer concerned with anything else they do once they satisfy their obligations to me.

I spent over twelve years at Starbucks, and all I got was a lousy grinder. While it may make me jaded, there is no way I am going to invest that much of myself into another company again. The world is a changing, and I need to be okay with that, and just get through to survive to fight another day.

But with the support of family, I am starting to realize that there is something bigger out there for me, I just need to work hard and find out what it is. But whatever ‘it’ is, might not be apparent for a while. That’s okay, I’m patient, they say it’s a virtue.


The journey begins

11 02 2009

It began as a weird surrealistic experience. A meeting request one week ago today via email on Outlook for the next morning signed with an emoticon smiley face. I will give her the benefit of doubt that that was done as a force of habit and was not meant to be inappropriate. But still an as yet unbelievable chain of events was set into motion that led to my appointment to my own layoff from my employer of 12 1/2 years.

Starbucks Coffee had been very good to me. They are hailed as one of the great American employers for their generous pay and benefits packages for a reason. I was able to enjoy my free coffee and reasonable vacations while contributing to a company that defined the culture of the consumer society of the last 10 years. But this is not the same company I joined in 1996. The culture of the great American coffee house was lost in the continuous demand for sales and location growth by the stakeholders, including employees like me. As ‘partners’ we were all supposed to share in the success of the company, and be rewarded for our longevity with stock options and other niceties.

Apparently it was all a shell game. You see there is no such thing as perpetual motion or never ending growth, so it peaked, and the house of cards started to collapse. But the biggest problem I have is that I was doing my job, and making a difference, but because of mistakes of others much higher up the ladder (who were rewarded handsomely at the time) of unrelenting growth, I am now paying the price for their hubris.

So now my story is very similar to thousands (maybe even hundreds of thousands) of others over the past few months who are victims of circumstance. I am not writing this to bash my former employer, at least they have the decency to give me a generous severance package. In fact, I was a customer at Starbucks before I started working there, and I will be a customer after. Just maybe not for a few days right now.

My severance and a little bit of savings is going to give me the opportunity and a little bit of flexibility to figure out what to do next. I am going to lean on my family and friends, and I have decided on a creative outlet to record my journey.

Working to work was a title I picked because finding a job in 2009 is going to be the hardest job I’ve probably ever had. ‘Life of leisure’ is just me being facetious. I take the state of the economy very seriously. However, we still have it very good here in our times of trouble. The fact that I can sign up for a blog page, and write this on a computer says that pretty well. But in reality I won’t truly be lounging around for a long time.

Just wanted to put out a ‘why’ post to get started. The who, what, and where will be coming soon as well. The ‘how’ is the part I’m not so sure about……