The Fear

So last week I was sitting and thinking for just a minute about how happy I was to be at work and how it was almost a year since I was laid off from my job of 18 years. Then came the text from my husband….

“Mass layoffs going on here..50 to be let go.It’s getting ugly.”

My heart dropped into my stomach. I had moved past the fear for a while now. I had a job, had already been there 4 months. I had been so focused on my own job situation, I never really thought about my husband’s. He was a software engineer, he had a skill, something tangible to market himself with. In my head, it never even occurred to me to worry about him. His company laid off people 2 years ago and I was so happy then that he made it through. And he had just made it through again, he was not one of the 50. But the seed was planted…fear.

His company had done what so many seem to be doing now…planting the FEAR and making it run wild in the workplace. The culture of fear, it’s everywhere. Companies will proclaim how it’s their best year ever, how sales are rebounding, their customer base expanding, and then POW. Sorry, we are going to downsize you so we can hire a bunch of people in India for 1/10 of what you make and no benefits. India is the new China. Much hipper socially than China ever was and they will do the job for less money and with no discussion, debate or complaint. They just do the job and ask no questions. Companies still bring workers from India here and sponsor their green card, and bam, The Culture of Fear. The workers say yes to everything A. because it is culturally the way they do things and B. because if they don’t follow along the right way, then the company can just stop sponsoring them and send them back to India. It’s the century’s new slave trade. China and Mexico, oh, they are soooo last news cycle.

When people question how the economy is really not rebounding, I say, well, blame it on the Culture of Fear. In the 50s, children hid under desks waiting for the Russians to bomb us and knock out America. Now it is the workers hiding under their desks, hoping the big bosses don’t drop a bomb on their career.

I know it was bad losing my job but I also know first-hand that it is just as bad to be among the ones left behind. When you lose your job, you mourn, you rage, but eventually move on. The workers who don’t get laid off today now just have to live in limbo, in the Culture of Fear, hoping that next time around won’t come too soon and that if it does, that they don’t get let go.

When does the fear go away? Well, it takes awhile but it subsides. Until the next layoff…


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