Black Wednesday


Black Wednesday

After finding out via Yahoo! Messenger on Monday afternoon that my company was planning compulsory redundancies, I didn’t much fancy my return to work after holiday on Tuesday.

As expected, the day was long and the atmosphere was grim.

I tried to get as much work done as I could – I’m doing some creative writing at the moment for our next WipEout game, and some of it will be used for marketing assets. So I set about writing some content after wading through my inbox during the morning, keeping my new headphones on and my mind busy for most of the day.

Wednesday was as grim as it gets, though. No matter what I did, the sense of impending doom was just too vocal in the front of my mind to really contentrate on anything else. Knowing that the criteria was something along the lines of the “value of my role to the company”, I was certain I had bad news coming my way.

You see, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and the game would launch as planned – I’m just not that essential to the project. Marketing wouldn’t get the text they want about the fictional future people from 200 years hence, but the game would still hit the shelves around about the same time the bus driver came off his statutory sick leave for stress.

I tried to keep myself in the same mindset as I had the day before, knowing that whether I worried about it or not, the decision was out of my hands. It was hard going, though – I got hardly anything done, and as the hours ticked by the tension created by not knowing was tangible. People stood about in small pockets, talking with concerned faces and making little eye contact. I played no part of that – I knew it would upset me too much if I talked at length with someone who was later culled.

Just after two o’clock there was a bit of commotion when it became apparent that some people had been called to the boardroom and given their marching orders. As the unfortunate folk filtered back down to clear their desks, I stayed put. Others rushed in like sharks at a feeding frenzy.

What do you say to someone who has just had their livelihood snatched away?

Especially when you’re counting your lucky stars that it’s not you that’s been punched in the gut?

Even after it became clear who the unfortunate few were, there was still no word on whether there would be another wave, nor notification that any of us was safe. When I was told that a couple of friends had been victims, that only added to the anxiety. I was so sorry for them, but still so concerned about my own job.

“I cant quite bring myself to feel bad for people who’ve lost their jobs, when I don’t know if I’m going to be one of them myself.” I admitted to my desk buddy.

It wasn’t until after three that white envelopes were handed about to each member of staff remaining, basically saying that we’d been deemed valuable enough to continue at the company. Then we were told we could go off and enjoy the sunshine, since it had been such a disrupted day there was no chance of being particularly productive anyway.

I finished what I was doing, shut down, and joined about 15 or so other folk in the pub. The sense of relief was apparent in every single face, but the mood remained flat – respectful of those who were not so lucky. I was happy to be sitting with the folk I’m closest to at work, happy in the knowledge that we’d escaped the bean counter’s wrath.

Even so, I left after one drink so that I could collect Elisha from nursery and take her to the swing park. Holding my daughter and watching her laugh as I pushed her on the swings was more the kind of comfort I needed after an experience that had been too close for comfort. There’s more to life than work, after all, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.

I haven’t endured a day like that in over four years and I’m in no hurry to go through a similar experience again, I can tell you. Today I found out that some good lads in other locations were also gone – I’ll miss them on the forums and I wish them all the best for the future.

For now, my adventure here in Liverpool continues. If anything it’s been a wake up call that told me I should really update my CV more often. And spend less, too.