As a thirty-five years old, married with a wife, a six-years old child and fifteen years of mortgage left to support, I was wondering how to break the news; what I should do about a new job; how I’d manage financially in the meantime. Too young and too poor to retire, I was also getting too old to compete with recent graduates, who’d gladly accept much less by way of salary than I was used to. While I was eating I kept glancing at my briefcase, in which I’d put the paperwork I’d been handed at the interview for reading, as preparation for a seminar at the beginning of the following week.
I knew that the seminar would be about how to prepare for job hunting. I’d have three months to sort that one out – three months salary left to pay the bills while I sorted out the new job problem, but I needed to tell my wife today. I’d heard too many stories of people being too proud to admit that they’d had the push, pretending to family and neighbours that they still had a job. Stupid thing to do! They’d always get found out sooner or later. That would only make things worse – having to deal with loss of face and sacrificing all the family and community support that could otherwise have helped them through the kind of problems I’d now have to deal with.
I was confident that Helen would understand and provide moral support. She might bitch a bit at first about us being dropped in it – but she’d rally round quickly. She’s a great wife. Her part-time job in the supermarket would help too. I didn’t want to have to go begging to my mum and dad – or to the in-laws: it would be bad enough having to tell them. Nonetheless, I felt that I’d be able to count on them too for moral support.
Looking back on it, I suppose that I should have been glad. The shock of the redundancy interview acted like a kick up my backside, forcing me to get out of a situation in which I’d become complacent. The pay had been good and I’d had some good work mates even if the job itself had recently been no longer as fulfilling as it had once been. I’d need to rethink my options, and the suitability of my qualifications, experience and competencies for moving on.
The Human Relations people – God, that was an oxymoron of a department title; a bit like military intelligence. The word ‘Human’ was totally inappropriate to a system of using computers to de-humanise situations and employees. I suppose I’m being ungrateful. I could see why the new owners would want to restructure existing branches ready for ‘rationalising’ under their merger plans. Given the wholesale scale of redundancies at my branch, I guessed that it’s one of those that are slated for closure and sell-off.
Anyway, to be fair they seemed to be being quite progressive. I say ‘seemed to be’, because a cynical part of me was thinking that, probably, some of their apparent benevolence would be down to compliance with conditions for the mega-merger, that would have been laid down by the Monopolies and Mergers people and the Government. I’d heard of lesser company acquisitions and insolvencies where existing employees had been fired by text messages.
The HR people at the interview had provided sheets of bumf to tell me why the company was ‘re-structuring’; what I’d be entitled to in terms of notice period, redundancy pay, pension options, retraining sessions for being interviewed and job seeking plus training to help me to face the future with a ‘positive outlook’. Perhaps some of the HR people were due for the chop too.
” Right!” I thought, “I have the rest of the week off before the seminar: time to begin preparing for casting-off the old and donning the new. Tomorrow, I’ll call in to the office to commiserate with the others who’ve drawn the short straw – the band of Last-in: First-out departees. But, for now, I’d better get on that train home and tell my wife.” It would have been nice to have had time to do some shopping for gifts for Helen and Paul. But, for now, penny pinching would need to be the order of the day.
On the train home, once I’d finished reading, I started thinking about the future, but occasionally I drifted off a bit in my thoughts. Looking through the carriage windows, at men we passed who were working on the rail tracks, reminded me that at least one of the engineering companies in our existing group was involved, in one way or another, on the HS2 high speed rail project. I’d bet a pound to a penny that few, if any, staff working on that project would be axed. One consolation, the redundancy sum calculation looked as if it would offer some padding to the three months pay in lieu of notice.
Today’s image is of part of MediaCityUK. The photo was taken in October 2019 around sunset. MediaCityUK is a large property development on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal in Salford and Trafford, Greater Manchester, England. The project was developed by Peel Media; its tenants include media organisations such as studios of BBC NorthWest, ITV, The Lowry Theatre, The Imperial War Museum North and the University of Salford. Later in this month’s series of black and white images I’ll be posting a second shot that I took on the same day during the ‘blue hour’.
I shot this scene using my Pentax K-1 36 MP full-frame camera and a 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens at 24 mm and f/16. The shutter speed was 1/16 secs and the ISO 100. The camera was tripod mounted and post processing was in Lightroom.