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#32. I was thirty-two the first time I was laid off from a job.

That was about eight weeks ago now, and while I've gotten off my ass and turned thirty-three in the interim, I don't yet have a replacement job. You'd think a birthday would count for something!

At least I wasn't the only one laid off. The biotech company I was working at took a rather sudden and precipitous turn, and decided that it really had no use for research scientists any more. Or the programmers -- like me -- who supported them. Just about eight hundred people were let go, and offices closed in two of the three cities where the company had sites. And, of course, the stock went up on the news. Just a bit, but still. Lousy bloodthirsty Wall Street bastards. Eight hundred people out of work == eight hundred less salaries and benefits to pay. Hurrah! Fuckers.

It also means the end of research at the company, at least for now. And the end of employment there for me and most of my coding friends. Even the guys who were spared are moving out of coding -- they're supporting third-party systems, or getting into management, or working with outside vendors. Boring, uncreating, suck-the-life-out-of-you, for-the-love-of-God-it's-only-two-pm crap. Er, in my opinion, anyway. Rather strong opinion, apparently, but still just my opinion. No offense if you happen to do one of those jobs; they're all very important and I'm certainly glad that someone takes care of them. And better you than me, brother (or sister).

Speaking of opinions, one that I don't have is that 'any job is better than no job'. I watched my dad suffer and squirm through several years of a job he loathed, and I'm not interested in doing the same, myself. We're supposed to learn from previous generations, right? So I'm not terribly interested in seeking out one of those 'new and improved' positions at my old company, or any other, for that matter. For the moment, I'm steadfast in my conviction that I'll find a suitable job, doing what I like, and in a suitable environment, with friendly, competent, like-minded folks. And in an office somewhere within a ten-mile radius. I don't ask for much, do I, folks?

On the other hand, I've only got a couple more weeks of severance pay coming. My expenses are down lately, of course -- all my lunches and most of my dinners come at home these days -- but the well's not bottomless, either. I figure I can reasonably last until the end of October without a job, but if I hit the end of September without a solid prospect, the sweating is going to commence in earnest. As I mentioned in the title, this is uncharted territory for me.

In the meantime, I've got to walk that fine line between idealism and desperation. Take a job at McDonalds? No. Not that desperate yet. How about coding, but at a bank? Um... no. I'm not quite ready to buy nice clothes and wear a tie to work. Not if I can avoid it. Web monkey at another biotech? Errr... ah... how much does that pay, again? And where's the office? Maybe a tech support job at a hospital, or school? Ugh. Um, yeah, probably, if it'll pay enough to cover the mortgage. God help me.

Clearly, these are dark times. Or will be soon, anyway. Goodbye, dignity. Farewell, self-respect. And sayonara, soul. If this goes on much longer, I may have to bid you bon voyage for a while, until my mad skillz and the economy conspire to land me a better position. I just pray my next job won't involve asking customers whether they're interested in 'super-sizing' anything. I'm not sure I could come back from that.

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