exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

playing with the cards you’re dealt

by Jen at 9:40 pm on 14.10.2010 | 4 Comments
filed under: mundane mayhem

so: changes.

thanks to the lovely new conservative government, there are cuts to be made in the public sector. big cuts. on the order of 20-40% cuts. this is what’s happening at my work right now. the first round of cuts are being made, and it’s got us all running around nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

and even where there are no official cuts, there are “efficiencies” to be made. translation: doing even more with the same (or fewer) people. no regard for actual capacity or resource – simply a mandatory understanding that however overworked you are, however thin you are spread, you *will do more* and you will like it and be thankful you weren’t part of the cuts.

what this all means for me is that my team is getting “restructured”. someone has decided that things would work better if a bunch of my team went into this other team and did something completely different. and in this reshuffle, i am likely to lose my team manager job, and get forced back into the kind of job i left last time. the worst of it is the way in which it has been handled – with completely inhuman disregard for people’s feelings. we all know the score and we are all grownups, yet it’s all been done in such a callous way, without even a pretense or nod toward acknowledgement of people’s distress. we were brought into a boardroom, and had some papers shoved at us. even knowing it was coming, i found myself getting emotional and angry, and angry at being emotional.

the job i mostly really liked and believed in and was told made a real difference, didn’t actually matter after all. what i do is not valued enough to merit the consideration of a genuine discussion. my team (or what will be left of it) is just expected to pick up and carry on and no one has given a moment’s thought to how they will continue to do the work, or why they’d even want to stay in an organisation that didn’t bother to think about them. no one ever talked to us about what we actually do – we are just bodies to be moved somewhere else as they see fit.

it hurts, dammit.

never one to leave my fate in someone else’s hands, i’ve decided it’s time to leave. rather than be subject to this fucking chess game being played with people’s careers and lives, i’m opting out. i’ve let my boss (who, bless, has tried her best to manage the proposed changes, but the ball was never in her court) know that at the beginning of next year, i’m gone.

all that talk about moving i’ve done in the past few years? my hand has just been forced. january/february. that’s not that far away. and what comes next remains to be seen. j and i have a half-baked notion that i’ll go to vancouver and try to get a job. i don’t really know how that will work, but i’ve always seemed to manage to sort something out before – pulling up sticks and moving seems to be my thing. i’ve moved to new york, boston, and london without a job or much planning, and somehow always managed to land on my feet. mind you, none of that was in the midst of the worst recession in 80-some-odd years. that’s a daunting prospect – we’ve got a little savings but not enough for me to stay unemployed for too long.

oh: and no, there’s no backup plan.

i am angry and sad about my job. terrified and excited about the future. (and sad too, as well, for all that i will be leaving behind – something which i have not even allowed myself to begin to think about or feel yet.) amongst all that are a million logistical nightmares to be sifted through one at a time, and some belt-tightening to do, now that the countdown is on.

dear readers, i am predicting a bumpy ride ahead.



  • 1

    Comment by Amity

    15.10.2010 @ 12:05 pm

    All I can say is: Nooooooo! and ‘Meh!’

    Sorry, just having a selfish reaction to you leaving. I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic new adventure and land on your feet, as usual.

  • 2

    Comment by Your Sister

    15.10.2010 @ 14:34 pm

    there is always a nice, dark room living with a mostly calm family on an island in a f*cked up country available to you and yours.
    sorry to hear about your troubles. i will send some candy corn to make it better.

  • 3

    Comment by t.tara

    15.10.2010 @ 16:43 pm

    so sorry about your uninvited detour but i’m sure you’ll find perhaps this is just a door to something better disguised as a rude intrusion.

  • 4

    Comment by daddio

    22.10.2010 @ 13:54 pm

    the apple does land far from the tree.

    i started reading this and i am saying to myself, jen don’t! you are reveling too much about your work issues on line…it will get back to you boss and will cause more distress in your life. i know, i was fired once because my boss overheard a criticism i was making of her and her decisions…instant, on the spot, pack your things and leave…today. i have also been fired, again, on the spot, for being seen as not going along with the policy. in both cases, i went long periods without work…difficult to explain beign fired. it didn’t help that they occured both in a row. i would like to say that this occured in my youth when i was young and stupid. but unfortunately, it was when i was old and stupid. i got fired on a thrid occasion when i was just about your age for criticising a decision of my boss that was already a done deal that we (the worker bees that were being directly affected by this decision) were not even asked out input before the decision was made. luckily, i got a new job the next day, but not so luckily, the company went under 6 months later. in my illustrious career, i have quit on the spot 3 times, left before being fired once and left with hard feelings once. on another occasion, i should have been fired for walking out of a meeting similar to the one you sat through..i went on to quit a few months later…or was i asked to resign, not sure.

    so i am reading along…oh, no jen, don’t quit!! too late, sounds like the dasterdly deed is done!

    where has my anger and sense of injustice got me? a lot of pain, some fascinating experience and slowly, a little bit of growth and possibly, a tad of maturity. i must say, it doesn’t seem to have hurt me financially, but that is only because my profession is one that historically is usually in demand and well paying. it doesn’t hurt that my lifestyle and wants have always been modest and my credo has been based on a poem about ants i read in the 4th or 5th grade…”us ants never borrow, us ants never lend.” at age 42, i was living hand to mouth and found out that as meger as my wants were, there was still many things in my life i just didn’t need. fortunately, you mom made some investments that allowed me, now living without her, to put down a payment on a house which today i own.

    so, what am i trying to say here? professionally, all my angst and anger hasn’t hurt me, in fact, i have a reputation in my job that is about helping my patients get the care, services and caring that they deserve. yes, sometimes i use my sense of outrage to make that happen, but usually i am able to accomplish this through forming relationships and going the extra step with my patients and their families. in the end, i have ended up with what is not my ideal job (that was my last job which i felt compelled to leave on a matter of fairness)…is any of this sounding familiar?…but, this has been a wonderful second best ideal job.

    i guess, for better or worse, you are me. you are very talented and i want you to have the opportunities in life to use those talents in a way that bring you joy and fulfillment. you have much to contribute to the world. i am also a bit fearful…perhaps is is easier to be fearful for the ones i love…and i just don’t want your life to have the degree of turmoil that mine has had.

    what have i learned? i learned that sometimes thing are what they are and the only control we have is how we individually treat other people and how we act ourselves. i have learned that yes, the unknown is exciting and often worth the adventure, but sometimes scary and avoidable. count to 10 and then count to 10 again. introspection and self understanding as to why we behave the way we behave allows for growth and wisdom…avoiding this task just sets things up to repeat themselves. having principles matters, but learning how to persuade other to also accept them is a true art, one that can be learned.

    i love that you will be in vancover, one of my most favorite places (vancover island anyhow). i am concerned that you will be there alone and separated from your love. i know you will get a job, but am concerned that the economy may not permit it to be part of a career path.

    as you know, when i was in turkey recently, i jumped off a cliff 16 meters high. i had a couple of beers so having the courage to swim to shore and climb up the cliff was fairly easy. the booze really wasn’t doing its thing when i reached the top and looked down…no rocks in the water to hit, but to do this i had to run off the cliff to avoid the rocks below the cliff that stuck out. i walked back and forth, counting the strides i would have to take and where my starting point should be, judging how fast i would have to run, thinking of the 50 people in mine and the surrounding boats who were watching, thinking am i just stupid, deciding on how difficult it would be to climb down, wondering how i would land if i jumped, praying that i wouldn’t hurt myself….. for at least 5 minutes. finally, i just said, “matt, just take it one step at a time…so with that i decided the first step was to stop thinking and just get off the cliff. off i ran. i don’t recall the second step, how i was going to land feet first…in fact, i have no recollection of even being in the air and falling (i am guessing i had my eyes closed). the next thing i remembered was the sharp sting along my right thigh (landing a bit askew) and how reassuring it was that the pain meant that i was alive and hadn’t snapped my spinal cord. the swim to the boat was exhausting (it was out a bit and the wind was against me). i didn’t want to drown or appear like i was drowning making my victory lap. back on the boat, it was exciting as absolute strangers came up and wanted to get their picture with the old guy who was also and idiot. the next day, the side was all black and blue. i was wondering why my old injured right knee was all swollen…oh, yeah…if i had thought about the knee on the cliff i never would have jumped…ignorance is bliss.

    today, i have a great story, and exihilerating moment, and a body that is no worse for the wear. was it stupid? you bet. dangerous? only after did i truly realize the impact of falling 50 feet, even when landing in water. glad i did it? you bet!

    i know you will choose what is right for you. you know you have my love and support.

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