Missouri Herbs

Missouri Herbs
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Friday, May 30, 2008

8:28 - it's not too late

Thursday May 29th at around 10am, I received a phone call from the manager of another department that I have never spoken to on the phone before. She quickly started reading in robo-tone from the "you are being fired" script. "I am here with the Human Resource manager. We have called to inform you..." In a split second my life changed and my stomach fell on the floor. I broke out in a spontaneous nervous sweat and began to shake. I was shocked, then mad and angry, then scared. Sometime that morning men from headquarters in suits descended upon the office and informed upper management that our project was terminated and effective immediately most of the employees were being laid off.


Our branch had 50-60 employees in the office and several remote employees. The details are still fuzzy, because we are all still trying to make contact with each other; but i believe there are only 13 employees left. The men in suits took control of the server room and disconnected everyone's computer. That's the last I've had access to years of photos, my address book, email addresses and other personal details which I had been working on getting off my work computer. Another hard lesson learned. My remote connections was severed sometime during the phone call. The suited locust moved with militaristic precision. I have only been able to imagine what the scene felt and looked like in the office. The fear and anxiety until it was your turn. No one knew what was going on. Fortunately I was one of the first phone calls made. My phone rang off the hook shortly after that from one employee after another who had just been given the news.

After 11 years doing the same basic thing, 20 years in the industry, 2 or so years from early retirement and 1 month to being debt free; the plug was pulled. I am not qualified any longer for my career since there are new industry-standard tools that I had just begun to learn and was so close to actually being able to use. I never got to use it much though because they wouldn't pay for training and the code was never stable long enough to write scripts, so they weren't re-usable and a waste of time. We were pretty much left on our own after an awkward, crude in-house training from another branch that didn't even use the tool the way we needed. We were to figure it out in our "spare time" as the whip bearing crows circled over head with the caw of the deadline. I couldn't possibly go back to my prior career before that as a Benefits Manager, I hated that more than I hated this. I'm too old and too close to my dreams to be "re-tooled" like some outdated machine for a gray-cloth box job that I hate. No more. I was making pretty good money, definitely more than the average person of my education level. It took years of hard work that I'm not going to put into to another company. With only 1 month left in my 20 year "debt sentence", I was so close to being able to save $1,400 a month towards solar panels, wind turbines, and building our home. With doing that I could have easily retired soon, maybe before 42 and worked full time at homesteading. Plans change. Sometimes you have to be pushed off of one path and take a clumsy, bumpy roll down a hill before landing on a better one that is going in the right direction.

I was at my wits end about a hundred other ridiculous hoops and gyrations it took me everyday to try to complete any amount of work; but any further divulging would violate the "don't tell on us, or no money for you" policy. We were a small company known for quality and customer service and were bought out by a mega-corp. Their processes and arrogance managed to destroy a company in 2 years that was in the black and successful for 25 years. The futility and waste were completely preventable. What a shame. A project that had millions of dollars already invested in it and could have easily been turned around if they had listened to the employees; was just wadded up and thrown in the trash like garbage. {More misery details were cut}

To get my severance package I have to sign forms that say "I will not disparage the name or business reputation" of my employer. The next breathe states they will only provide a "neutral" reference. The employees stayed when it became a living hell. Many signed up for working 60 hours per week with a reward that never came. Even when the rats started jumping ship, this last group stayed. They had hope that we could turn it around. A "neutral reference" for employees that have gotten outstanding annual reviews year after year (which were almost all of the people that were laid off)! What an incredible group of talented, life-long friends I had in that place. Friends that are newly weds, single parents, new parents, single income families, people with kids in college, people in suburban debt to their eyeballs. Oh I feel for them. Their pain is far greater than mine I think. I was already on the way out. These people weren't just engineers and specialist; they were also healers, artists, prophets, dreamers, adventurers, athletes, comedians, great dads, animal rescuers, grandmothers, philanthropists, chefs and wonderful friends.

After a few hours of the news sinking in, our neighbor stopped by to air up his wheel barrow tire. We told him what happened. He said his friend needs to hire 2 Fed-ex drivers and gave me his number. Well that is something to consider. What a quick relief that was, even though I probably wouldn't be able to do that for long. I wouldn't want to drive in the winter months and I really am tired of sitting down during the day.

Last night when I was chopping food for diner I started crying. I told Jeffrey "I think I'm crying because I'm happy. I don't have to do that anymore. I don't have to do that any - MORE!" The joy started appearing. I never have to do that again. I couldn't control myself. The relief was more overwhelming than the fear it replaced. How ridiculous that I stayed there that long. How happy I am that 2 days before the biggest planting weekend, I suddenly have 13 weeks of paid time off. How happy I am that I have a chance to invest in a career change and my needs for money are about to be greatly reduced.

Jeffrey and I decided to plant all the seeds that we were not previously planning to. We are going to put in a much bigger garden at crooked creek since we can now both work on gardens during the day. Our property is on a major state highway in an area that farm stands are found (though happily the garden is and living areas will be - far from the road) . Jeffrey is going to build a farm stand and we'll try to sell what we can. I have friends that sell produce at the farmer's market and they can help walk me through the process. I took my seeds down to my farmer friend. She helped me map out a bigger garden and had generous advice on placement and what sells and what doesn't up here. I gave her some of my unusual seeds and she was happy to get them. She said I can sell my produce in front of her restaurant at her own personal "farmer's market" if I'd like.

We've also thought about taking the severance and building a small, cheap, efficient kitchen so that I can get certified to sell food. For some reason you have to have 2 kitchens, but what qualifies for a 2nd kitchen doesn't take much if you aren't selling dairy (which I wouldn't be). I don't know much and have a lot of research to do to see what information I have is accurate and what may be a misunderstanding. I have other homesteading friends I met when I moved here that are also stuck because of the same 2 kitchen requirement and perhaps we could work out a cooperative agreement and share it. So the more we think about ideas and possibilities, the more excited we become.

I am just always amazed out how quickly life can change and how when I saw no way out, a way was made. In my meditation and prayer every day, I asked for a way out of that madness. It was the biggest source of frustration and anger in my life. I just wanted to work outside most of the time and have enough money to get by as we built our homestead; but I was afraid to quit totally and give up that money. Though it wasn't as I planned, it will probably end up a better plan. I'm not going to worry about the outcome and just keep going forward knowing that we are doing the right thing for us.

We have invited all our homesteading friends and neighbors over Sunday night for a fire and celebration. It's last minute and with high gas prices and work schedules, I doubt anyone will be able to make it, except maybe one neighbor. If it's just the 13 of us around the fire with Jeffrey, the animals and me; then the party will be a great success. We thought of the fire because last night I suddenly felt like celebrating after diner. I said "Let's have a fire!" Jeffrey said "Is it too late?" I said "8:28 - it's not too late" and we laughed because it rhymed. It was a great fire with much silliness and dog dances. Lolli is a fantastic dancer and lets you hold her two front paws and move her around.

Here is the newest garden photo. The row covers have a newly added arch for greater head room thanks to a few snipes of fencing wire and some clothes pins. This is the small garden that will be for us and the other large garden will be started this weekend. You can probably tell we've decided to stop cutting the grass. The foot paths are worn down enough from frequent use. Also here's a picture of Rufus "pigging" out on dandelions.


2 comments:

spacemonkey said...

I'm so happy for you, Jamie!! Now we're both free to chase our dreams!

Ja-Co said...

I can't wait to see your's unfold! You are so talented. I know you guys are going to make the most of this.