Sunday, March 7, 2010

Who is "Ahtee?"- Week 10

I lost my job this past week. I have mentioned it briefly but, for my own sanity, I need to dedicate an entire post to it. So here's my story:

I was a shelver, bookseller, kids expert, merchandising supervisor, and "Sales Account Representative" (school orders). And now, I am a former Borders employee... laid-off because my current two positions (merch sup/SAR) were no longer available.

I started at Borders in October of 2007. At the time, I was still going to art school and needed some extra money. I started as an overnight shelver. I would go to school in the morning, sleep for a few hours, work from 10pm to 7am (sometimes 6am), drive to school, sleep in my car or do some homework, then go to class. I would fit in eating when I had time.

The night shelving crew was moved to day because it was costly to have an overnight crew (they re-instated the overnight crew a few months after that decision was made). Sometime after, my mother told me that, even though she said she had money for my tuition that year, she apparently didn't and the money was going to my sister (she's going to become an RN, my mom says). I was angry... I was frustrated. I dropped out. Went to full-time.

Fast forward to late 2009. Our district manager left and my general manager was asked to fill in until they found a replacement. That meant a key-holder position was available. I wanted to be the Inventory Supervisor. I left a message with my general manager, but he promoted someone who joined the team after me... and I was told he didn't get my message. I was told that I was just as good and the decision was actually up to the previous district manager. I bought it... afterall, why would he lie? He's a good man.

I heard a rumor of a children's expert position becoming available. I was currently shelving kids. I learned the product because I liked it. And I like children. So I waited for the position to be posted so I could apply. I was already the person people turned to with their kids questions. But the interim general manager asked me to become another key holder since another manager had left. I took it. And that same week, after I agreed to the be another key holder, the children's expert position was posted.

I was also helping Tony with the school orders, but it wasn't really my job. He left late last year to go back to school and the task fell on me. I was told that they would probably hire a new SAR, but that never happened.

I was also still a kids expert. I still did the kids parties. I shelved. I merched. We were all doing multiple jobs. We kind of had to (and those still there still have to... even more so with the recent lay-offs).

Fast forward to March 4th. We were called in for training. The day was originally going to be me and Rod's day-off. And our general manager says he didn't even know we were being let go until the night before. I so desperately want to believe him. He was always so nice. I was lucky to have so many cool managers at this job. But, it still hurts.

I feel embarrassed. I went in to the work that morning making mental notes on who to contact for an upcoming teacher event. I was day-dreaming about the vacation we had coming up in April. I was wondering if Rod and I would be able to have lunch together.

I hadn't been in for more than half an hour when I heard the words "Your position is no longer available here at Borders." I tried not to cry because he told me not to panic because it wasn't all bad, but I did. And when he said he wasn't going to walk me out because he didn't want to embarrass me, I sobbed when he walked away. Sobbed. I thought I was a valuable asset to the company. I mean, my school orders were sometimes close to $10,000. And I thought I was a good part of the merch team. And maybe those things were true, but it doesn't help now.

I was let go because the two positions I didn't even want in the first place but took in order to move up in the company were no longer available. And the one I originally wanted... the inventory supervisor position, is still there. And the person who ultimately became the childrens expert no longer has those hours as the position doesn't really exist anymore but she can still be a bookseller.

It sucks. It hurts. I loved all the people I worked with. I had so many good memories. I met my love there... grew... became independent... learned to pick myself up when I fell. That was my home. And I feel like I was kicked out...

I don't want to be sad anymore. I will try to make this the last time I mention this in my life. I will probably fail, but hopefully it will get easier with time.


  1. aww, Rose, I'm so sorry. I wish there was something I could say that would help. *hugs*

  2. Everything you're feeling is absolutely normal, Rose. I went through the same thing at my last job in aerospace. I worked there 13 years. The pay and bennies were good, it was a "Fortune 100" company when I worked there, and I was proud to be involved in the space program. I fully expected to retire from there and pull in a good pension.
    When the economy went belly-up in '94, things went south really fast. First, they cut wages and benefits, then they stopped OT and paid training. Soon, they took away our professional certs and brought temps in to fill in for absentees. Soon the 'temps' became full time.
    Management started to develop an antagonistic attitude to us--even to folks like me that were good workers and didn't cause trouble. The environment was such was that you felt entirely expendable and a burden for the company to keep around.
    Then the lay-offs started. I was pretty high in seniority, but they came fast. Soon, I saw the writing on the wall and decided to go look for a job--the one I have now.
    That was 14 years ago. It still hurts. You grow up with the idea that if you work hard, keep your nose clean, your employer will value you and you'll have a job forever. I think those days are gone. Have you ever heard the song "Allentown" by Billy Joel? It was exactly how I felt. Still feels.
    Now in my current job, I'm feeling the heat again. The economy is bad, the city has made cuts, our pay and bennies have stagnated,and more cuts are always dangling over our heads like the sword of Damocles. I have lots of seniorty and when a city is laying off, police and fire is the best place to be, but still it grinds on you.
    Bottom line, I guess, it's that it's not personal. It's all about economics and the budget. Don't look it as a personal failure on your part. Sure, you could have been more ruthless about making sure you got the position you wanted, or less trustful toward your superiors, but even that is no guarantee. And what kind of person would that make you?
    I don't have to tell you how smart and talented you are and, young as you are a whole world of opportunities is before you. your feelings in this case are valid and true, and when future opportunities come up, you will be a more experienced and mature person for it. But let your growth be positive and not bitter. You have a man and family that loves you. And those are pretty good things.