December 14th, 2010

drinks, beer

I tell myself I will look back at this and laugh

As some of you heard, I was laid off from my job yesterday.

Technically, I was “given notice” yesterday: I’m considered to be an employee through the end of the month and on the payroll through January 28th; while I’ve heard of better severance packages, for somebody who’s only been a company employee (as opposed to a full time contractor) for 9 months, this isn’t too bad.

On one hand, I’m not surprised. Back in October of last year, I was brought on to support a product which is going away in January—and specifically to do web development for the promotional, ordering and management web sites connected with that product. The technology from it will live on, but the web sites won’t. The last few months I’ve been working on UI implementation (not design) for a product which, I’m given to understand, my now former group won’t be responsible for permanently—I’ve been saying to people for a few months that I really couldn’t tell what I was going to be doing come January. Sometimes you feel like Chicken Little when you’re reading the writing on the wall everyone else seems to be missing, but unfortunately my track record in predicting imminent doom is fairly good. (On this job this makes me right about three things that other people apparently weren’t.)

On the other hand, I am surprised by the timing: not because it’s the holidays (companies do not tend to be sentimental), but because yesterday was literally the first day in the new office. They had spent the money to move me—and three other people in the group who were also laid off—down to this building, made us name plates and such. Whoever made the decision on which of us would go very likely wasn’t in Silicon Valley at all. My manager wasn’t informed until about 45 minutes before I was, apparently. (And yes, I believe he was pretty shocked: he’s not a good enough actor to have just been pretending to look like somebody had run over his puppy.)

The Dilbert-ness of the whole affair is the most painful aspect, in some ways. I have worked at the company’s brand new showcase Silicon Valley office—a move which in part precipitated my move down to Santa Clara a little over a month ago—for a grand total of four hours.

(I may use my badge to get into the building while it still works just to drink their free coffee, in the new coffee mug they gave me as a moving gift. If we’re all going to play Dilbert, I have a few weeks to play Wally.)

So: what happens now?

I’m not going to get back into the active job hunt until February—not that I won’t be open to something falling into my lap in January if the stars are right, of course, but I want to spend some time on personal projects. Not that I expect any of them will be income-generating, but some are long-overdue for attention and I don’t have much excuse not to attend to them now.

Part of me would like to not get back into the job hunt, at least not directly. I enjoyed my time as a freelancer in 2009, with the not-so-minor flaw that I simply wasn’t getting paid enough to match my expenses. I’m not sure I know any friends who freelance consistently who aren’t also consistently worried about scraping enough money together for ramen. I’ve worked out what I need as a reasonable minimum, and it’s a lot less than I’ve been making the last year—which is good, since that means I have enough cushion to coast without help for at least a few months.

For now, though, I’m overdue on going on a really long drive to nowhere in particular.