Monday, August 6, 2001

So, I'm beginning to get used to the idea that, for the first time in almost 15 years, I am out of work.

So far, none of my big fears about the situation is coming true - the biggest being that within days of my losing my job two big guys would come from my mortgage company and say "So's we's heard that you's lost yer job, eh? Tha's too bad. Especially since the people that we represent have a certain interest in your payin' your's debts, if you's know's what we's sayin'..."

Yeah, it's a pretty irrational fear.

Truth is, nothing's really changed yet, and won't for a few weeks at least. The biggest change is that when I wake up in the morning, I have this overwhelming urge - no, need - to get up and go to work, but there is nowhere to go. I find myself wondering how far I could get, how close I could come to actually going in for a regular day at the office. I could certainly go catch BART and ride it into Embarcadero. I would get off the train unmolested. I'd go up the escalator, put my ticket in the gate, and exit the station. I'd ride the next escalator up to the street. No one would stop me from walking down Drumm street, Crossing over through the park, continuing past the Safeway, through another park, and then onto Front street. I could walk down Front, turn left on Green, and get as far as the 50 Green street entrance. This door isn't locked, so I could go in. I could get in the elevator, and ride up to the 2nd floor. I could knock on the back door, and someone would probably come to open it...

...or, instead of going in at 50 Green, I could continue up to Battery and go in the front door. I'd be able to get into reception, then I'd have to call someone to buzz me in...

But then what? "Hey, man, what are you doing here?"

"Oh, just here to work, you know. Another day, another dollar, and all that."

" really what are you doing here?"

"What do you mean? I've got a deliverable for a client I need to work on," which is even kind of true. I was in the middle of a competitive benchmark assessment (yes, that's a real thing) when they let me go. The truth is, even after being released, I find that I'm STILL thinking about that document, how to make it better, how to deliver the most's disgusting really, "now can I please get to work?"

It's wierd. I imagine it to be somewhat akin to the institutionalization phenomenon, where long-term prisoners are released from prison, and they don't know what to do with freedom, and all they want is to be back in their cells.

Now, there are lots of ways in which one might compare a job to a prison sentence, one being that being removed from either is often referred to as being "released." One similarity that really really seems to me to hold water is that after enough time, both become a significant portion of who you are. When that is abruptly taken away, you have to find something to take its place, which turns out not to be so easy, so you immediately try to get yourself back into precisely the same situation you just left as quickly as possible.

In the case of prison terms, the word for this is "recidivism." I don't think there's a corresponding term for getting back into a job. While the former is considered a weakness, the latter is considered a virture, born of the protestant work ethic, or something similar. In both cases, though, it really is a sort of retreat, running back into the arms of the familiar. And in both cases, it seems to be born of a lack of knowledge of what to do with freedom.

Now, I am faced with this choice. Given the opportunity, I will choose recidivism in a heartbeat. I have too many things to protect - a home, a family, my own wellbeing - but I can't help but wonder wether I am simply too afraid of freedom, the freedom to extract my living as I see fit, rather than have it handed to me in return for giving the majority of my waking life to some larger business entity, to really take advantage of it.

Let me back in, boss. I miss my cell. I miss my scheduled time in the yard, my circumscribed two-day furlows, my regimented waking and sleeping, my savant-like existance. Provide food and shelter for me, I don't know how to do it myself. I've never had to. I can't take life on the outside. I'm not made for it, I don't know how it works. I'm afraid of this new freedom, afraid I'll use it badly, or not at all. Let me back in. Please. Let me back in.

Wednesday, August 1, 2001

There's this joke that Bob "Bobcat" Goldthwait used to tell...
"So I lost my job...well, I didn't really lose my job aa-aa-aaa I mean I KNOW WHERE MY JOB IS STILL...It's just w-ww-w-when I go there there's THIS NEW GUY DOIN' IT!!!"

So, after walking between the raindrops for the toughest year the Internet industry has seen (yet), the pink slip with my name on it was finally written.

They're not pink, by the way.

Today, I drank a bloody mary at 11:30 am, shared a final conversation with my former co-workers, and carried my own box of personal effects down washout lane as I'd seen so many others do before me.

Funny, somehow I thought I'd have more to say, but I don't just now.