December 05, 2008

the layoff thing - getting beyond denial

A friend remarked the other day that the only person we know with a "job" is one of our friends' husbands who works at The Home Depot.

I thought about it. She's right. Three of my friends have been laid off in the last year; a couple more are struggling to keep their businesses going, a couple more are single moms - one of them on public assistance - a couple more are doing odd jobs here and there to pay what bills they can.

But very few of the people I know have an actual job.

Somehow though, Atlanta keeps pretending. Denial is our specialty. People run here and there, get nails done, hair done, the gym done, the spa done. Hell, I'm one of them. By day we pretend it's going to be ok. By night, we hoard and joke about who has enough land for crops.

Three big restaurants in our immediate area are closed in the last six months. Two coffee shops still boast signs welcoming customers, but they're all but abandoned. Building projects have been halted in media res. It's beginning to look someone decided to bail half-way through prosperity.

Another friend was going by the Cobb County unemployment office on Monday. The parking lot there is not small. I was there seven years ago when I used a mutually-agreed-upon departure from BigPR to start my own business. There were no shortage of parking spaces even though the newly laid-off were plentiful then.

But on Monday, my friend said, the parking lot was not only full, but cars were parked on both sides of the road where it's located, up and down the street, no where to park.

That's not so good.

I was working at Starbucks yesterday (a knowledge worker, not a barista -- they have better benefits and work hours, trust me), and three ladies were at the table next to me. One said, "So what - I'll lose my house if I have to," and so I poked my nose in and said, "Did you get laid off?" They had 'the look.' I knew before I asked. She said all three of them had been laid off on Monday, along with 65 others. Small company, just down the street.

I told them it would be okay. They didn't look like they believed me.

It's not like the end of business as usual wasn't predicted. It's just that most of us didn't think it would happen all at once.

Joke's on us.

If you have a job, don't wait: Start your own business. Whatever you're good at, get better, get networked, and start taking on small projects where you can get them.

And someone wake Gary Turner, re: the blogtank--are we there yet?