what to say

I had this idea during dinner that I would get out my laptop and write something about the Big News, but I don’t know exactly what to say. Forgive my befuddled rambling.

For those of you who haven’t yet heard, I was one of the 15,000 City and County of San Francisco employees to receive a pink slip on Friday. Only I was on vacation and, in an effort to unplug, had not checked work email or RSS feeds all week. We returned home late Friday night, and my pink slip arrived in the mail on Saturday.

To say that I was shocked in that moment … well, I was shocked, but I was also a mess of other emotions. I opened the envelope, expecting a direct deposit slip, and received something very different. (It wasn’t pink at all, if you’re curious.) Because I hadn’t read the news, I thought I was one of a small number of layoffs – you see, I still believed all the “no, there won’t be layoffs” so heartily bandied about before this whole thing. Silly, naïve me.

FunkyPlaid and I sat in my study for a while, awash in disbelief and anger and who knows what else. Then I thought to call the library, and I asked a colleague what was going on. She informed me that she, too, had been laid off, that we all had been, library-wide, and then she related the 15,000 number, which blew my mind. I thought it couldn’t possibly be legal, but of course there are loopholes for any behavior.

I know I am hardly unique in this experience, especially now while our country suffers such economic turmoil. Last year, the union had dealt with the budget shortfall by arranging furlough days in order to stave off layoffs, so I know what it means to make sacrifices so that everyone can keep their jobs. But here we are, and with such a vague promise of rehiring at a shorter work-week, combined with my lack of seniority in the system … well, it looks bleak for me, if not during this round of layoffs then during the inevitable next.

This is hardly personal, but its personal impact is massive. My job is a complex and troubling one, but one I have grown to love with a fierce heart. I had so hoped we – and here I use “we” despite feeling cast aside by this city – would find a way to work together to provide our services to the public without losing anyone. Sometimes that is impossible, I am now told.

I hate that word “impossible”.

My gratitude for your compassion and your patience cannot fully be expressed by a mere “thank you” but I will still say it. I fully realize how despised civil servants are – I regularly hear comments to this effect – and yet you have only shown me kindness. Thank you. No matter what the outcome, I am humbled by your friendship.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.