The doorbell rang and we (Boomer and I) raced for it, nudging one another, to get to him first. We hugged. Boomer’s (irrepressible) yelps and jumps continued, undeterred. It was one of those moments when you shut the world out, let the eyes, the heaves, the sighs, the heart beats, do the talking.
He did not get laid-off – today.
For me it was a long day – so long that I am expecting it would last for months (till 2010 as Ballmer indicated). Till last week, it was other teams and people we did not know. But today it was all known names. The Manager (senior most) would come looking for the prospective “victim”, walk him/her into a sound proof room and read out a script, stating the clauses, provisions and dues, which varied from case to case. Besides, the two/three/four months salaries - whatever, most of them were offered an opportunity and assistance to relocate within the organization in a month’s time, allowed to keep their laptops till then and promised due recommendations. Some actually got bonuses on top of their compensations and thought it was actually a good deal. Four security guards and a doctor awaited the "victim" at the door - just in case. All said, signatures taken, the Manager would then walk the person all the way to the gate, with due respect though. A spectacle everybody would remember, talk about in the months to come! It sends a shiver through me even when I write it.
Unless disasters strike people we know, the possibility of us being next does not feel real. Even then we bleakly feign optimism (he before me, I before him) as ‘fear’ crawls into us quietly. When I first read about the “pink slip” experience at a friend’s blog, I thought I knew what it was all about. But tell you, it is much more than the certainty of the deposits in your bank account, much more than the smirch on the resume, much more than the public defame.
I could swear by his passion and allegiance for the company. But were the ones fired not passionate, hard-working? Every day they would sit and analyze, trying to understand the criterion of the firings, trying to relieve themselves from this guessing and waiting game. From the usual suspects (the Under Performers) to Star Performers and Project Managers, the flashlight has gone about everybody – so no pattern could be drawn. And that was just the first of the few waves that awaited us all till the Great Recession of the first-half of this Millennium is over. After the Satyam holocaust, Hyderabad is already weighed down with the surplus IT population - the job or rather job-less scenario needs no guessing. My position, my Boss confirmed, is safe - so far.
The hug purged him and me of the need for words. Such a relief! And he started off: “Pucho naa kaise maine rain bitaayee...” (a classical number from Meri Surat Teri Aakhen). I joined in feebly. Followed another song, and another, from classical I switched to Assamese, till we took our favourite positions in the balcony and sang our own different songs, shut our eyes and ears tight (we usually do that –insanity check, I call it) and sing at the top of our voices, with Boomer yelping and jumping, as usual.
Who knows what tomorrow holds.
(the question is: who's next?)
Disclaimer: The details in the write-up are only to reinforce the sobriety of my personal tragedy and not meant, in any way, to defame the organization we both work for. My account is not based on any official data but purely derived from my own experience and inputs from my friends and colleagues at work.