The first time the layoffs happened it was a real blow to the company. It was happening all around us, affecting other machine shops that we knew of since work was getting slower as the weeks went by and things didn’t look rosy. When two thirds of the shop floor were suddenly taken away with not much in the way of warning, then it’s a shock to me. I’ve had my job made redundant before in the United Kingdom, but I’ve had weeks in advance of prior warning along the lines of ‘it could be you!’ so that you could make proper arrangements.
Survivor’s guilt is a thing at first but then you cling to the illusion that you’re in a better position and possibly respected for the work that you’ve done. In my case, it’s probably also because I’m pretty cheap when compared to a bunch of certified tradesmen. Although I do prefer to think of myself as a bit of a bargain, to tell you the truth. I felt badly for everyone that had gone as most of them had children and mortgages to take care of. I felt badly because I couldn’t do anything about it. The huge machine that is the world economy was taking livelihoods away, oil was what fed the beast but now it’s satiated and there simply is too much of it.
And then, a couple of months later, the layoffs happened again. Second round, *ding ding*. This time it happened to another group of workers and that also included me. It’s never pleasant to be told what was going on, that it was also happening to you and an audible gasp escaped me as they told us what would happen, a layoff with the prospect of going on a minuscule social service handout. I felt trapped, strangely, with no savings behind me, living away from the city and wondering what was going to happen to our family.
I was now a stay-at-home dad and not through choice.
I gathered my stuff from my locker into a plastic bag, forgot my lunchbox in the canteen fridge and drove the 45 minutes home. I was feeling ok until I opened the garage door and I knew one of the kids had said something as Mrs. C was standing at the doorway, mouth agape with a ‘what are you doing here?’ look. I got out of the car, not slowly nor particularly fast, walked to her, gave her a hug and then broke down crying.
I felt like I had failed and I didn’t know why.
I was scared because I was in deep. My income was practically the only one that we had, I had a family to look after and bills to pay. We had come to Canada because of family and for the financial potential that it had. Now, the latter part hadn’t come through and I felt a lot less secure than when we first came here in December 2013.
We had booked a holiday for that same week. The house that we rented with AirBnB was already paid for. I was going through the stages of grief as fast as I could. We called our friends to tell them the situation. We were afraid that we wouldn’t see them now for a long time, as they’re moving to Thailand due to the nature of their work. They offered to pay for groceries and buy us gas. They’re awesome and I was trying hard to keep control of myself. I was given encouragement that this was a good chance for a break, to refocus and to think of it as divine influence. Take a break, try again.
Denial, anger, bargaining and depression were all vying for top spot in my head. I decided to have a shower. At the end of it I was less scared and wanting action. I suited up, put on some nice shoes and Mrs. C printed out resumes until the printer ran out of ink. I was given a list of places to go to and hand resumes in to. By this time, it was nearly 2pm so I got in the car, headed back to the city, went by the list and handed out eleven resumes by 430pm. I had three left by the time people were going home.
I went home too, had supper and went to bed exhausted.
I set an alarm. We had a vacation to go to.