Saturday, April 18, 2009

Goodbye Melinda

Friday was my last day of work at General Motors. They are going through with the staffing reductions that were a part of the original viability plan, and I'll be getting a severance package. This time.

Other than the brief flashes of terror I get when I consider my financial future, I am ok with this.

You may recall that two years ago I left my engineering job at GM on my own with no severance pay. But that was a leave of absence, and I did end up coming back to the company after 6 months but to the training department. I thought of it as a whole new beginning, a chance to learn new skills as well as apply the knowledge that I have of engineering and GM processes in a different way. At first it was all that and more. It was great fun learning how to write online training courses using the Lectora program, and I felt like I was making a meaningful contribution to the department. But over time I began to feel like I had stopped learning, and the projects I was getting and could hope to get were no more than busy work. My experience in Engineering wasn't really acknowledged. It turns out that Engineering is one of those jobs that everyone who isn't in it thinks they could do better than those who are. And although I went in there with a "can-do" attitude I found that those who are schooled in the field of "Instructional Design" don't believe anyone without that background can just step in and do it.

And then the economy tanked out, and GM began its frightening downward spiral. It became a very difficult place to drive almost an hour through the snow to go to every day. I started to secretly hope that I would get let go when they started to work on the staffing reduction plans.

When I had my performance review and learned that I was one of the people that they would be trying to "protect" from separation, I became irrationally frustrated.

So I told my boss I would be ok with it if I was let go. He wasn't exactly pleased with that, but did present my "request" to Human Resources, who demanded that I put it in writing.

I didn't want to write it down. That would mean taking responsibility for my own fate, which I ashamedly admit made me uncomfortable. I could see my poor nice boss sigh with exasperation when I resisted with "what are they going to do if I don't write it down, fire me?" Finally, after a clarifying discussion with the HR lady I did jot down the suggested "expressed interest" statement and sent it in.

And then I had to wait many weeks without really knowing what was going to happen, and the news about GM became more dire and incredible with each passing day. I also hated to see the agony in my coworkers as they struggled with all the unknown changes on the way, and felt guilty because I had to be secretive about what was going on with me.

Finally I got the word that I would be getting separated. The HR lady sounded like the most miserable person on earth. I tried cheer her up by acting all perky when she told me that my last day in the office would be April 17 and that I should go to a conference room at the VEC on Monday the 20th for "offboarding." (I hadn't heard that term before but I think it is goofy and makes me think of walking the plank)

I'll let you know how that goes. Right now I am having many conflicting emotions. I am sad that my career has with GM has come to an end, and I am sad for what seems to be happening to the company, because through it all I have always wanted the best for GM, and not just because I'm still holding some stock in my 401K. I realize that it is a might bit crazy to sort of voluntarily be leaving a job, any job, when there are so few to be had in the State of Michigan, highest unemployment in the nation right now. But then again I always wanted a severance package, and 2 years ago, albeit in a different economic condition, I was willing to leave with nothing. This time around I will get 6 month of pay and benefits, and have some more saved up in the bank since we never quite got around to adjusting our lifestyle up when I became re-employed. (Well, yes, there is the new kitchen floor.)

And, there is a beautiful Michigan summer just now peeking out and I'll be spending it with my darling little boys who I know are getting ever closer to being less little and darling with each year that passes by. I'm going to soak it up, all of it, every drop of a moment, and I know I'll never regret having that time with them, again, no matter how difficult things may become financially in the future.

And, in spite of the condition of the economy, and this state, and the automotive industry, I still cling to the hope that there is something out there for me to do, that I could both enjoy and be good at. Maybe even get paid for. For without that, well, this all would just be too darn depressing, and I don't wanna go there. I insist on being defiantly optimistic. I think.

Oh, I don't know.

There's only one thing I know.

I sure am going to miss Bob.


Anonymous said...

You are still in shock, Mindy. You have always been one of the most fortunate people around, so your plans for a wonderful summer should continue this aura. I think that current Unemployment Benefits continue for 9 months now including an extention. With your GM good-bye package and all else considered, you will be just fine. Plus, every past recession has lasted less than 3 years, and starts to turn around -even Michigan. I'm not worried about you. love, Aunt Chris

Heather Leigh said...

Have fun working on your novel or next movie this summer!! No worries. And if you DO write a book, will you be the guest speaker at our book club??

LYNN said...

CONGRATS! I'm here when you want to eat cake :)

Rebecca Binno Savage said...

Well, you got a free stapler out of it.

There might be new career opportunities in scrapbooking! Ummmm....just trying to think of ideas here.

Nancy USA said...

Congrats Mindy!!

You know, after all, you and I choose very similar career paths. Engineering, then part-time, then back, then a Leave of Absence (when my son was in middle school). I too hated to go back and was trying to treasure every minute of that short time with our son.

But, I agreed to go back for a couple of years. And lo and behold, I got an early retirement package from GM. You and I were so fortunate. Imagine if either of us had left on our own (like a few others -- Jenn, Betty, Laurie....)

I've started my 5th year of retirement this month. Time flies. The kid is gone and on his own. :(

The time I got to enjoy being "just a Mom" will last until my dying breath. The EWOs, SORs, and hundreds of stressful and/or boring meetings I missed, are, well, NOT missed!



ps: I'm still looking for that new career! Frankly, I love NOT working!

Anonymous said...

I just happened to be looking for part time help this summer, watching two very nice children, One 11 and one 9. Benefits, will keep your own kids occupied and call you "Aunt" in an endearing way.
Mary Beth

Anonymous said...

Let us know when you have a book signing for your first novel.


MomForThree said...

My hugs are being sent to you. I know you requested this in a way but that sometimes does not make it any easier. I have always missed the office gossip so if you need to dish give me a call. I'm glad my friend Tony's words helped you feel better. I sent him a link to your blog, I hope he visits.

Patty said...

I'm going to miss Bob too!

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