Layoff Story (very long)

Subject: Layoff Story (very long)
From: "Diane Evans" <diane_evans -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2002 17:57:49

Ok, I guess I will take a few minutes to vent. Several of you have asked me already!

In the previous episode, I was the senior technical writer at a small dot-com (LockStream). As you may recall, I loved my job, loved the company, and loved our product.

We put out our first major SDK in December. We were on a tight schedule, but got it out on time! As a reward for our diligent work, the company gave the production team two weeks off with pay at Christmas.

On January 2, we came back to work ready to start on our next project. Instead, 15 of our 50 employees were met at the door, given a severance package, and told to leave.

I protested that I at least would like to check my e-mail. I knew that it was important to get my email address changed for this list (I know how irritating it is to get one of those "Diane no longer works here" messages). I also would have liked to get a few personal emails out of the computer, as well as the list of web links that I have collected from suggestions on this list. Of course, getting one or two old documents to add to my portfolio would have been nice, too. But, no, my email account was already shut down and I would not be allowed anything.

How can the company go on without a tech writer? In August, we hired an assistant for me. It turned out that she got the job because she was a personal friend of our (then) recruiter, and knew little to nothing about tech writing. I trained her in RoboHELP, pointed her to web resources, and corrected her spelling whenever possible. In the meantime, she became VERY GOOD FRIENDS with one of our managers. They even got to spend weekends together! (Hmmm...did I say that?). Since her manager was not on the layoff list, guess who they kept?

At least they gave us two weeks severance pay, and paid our medical benefits for the month. I got mad and breathed threatenings about discrimination (since they kept the younger tech writer who is having a fling with a manager), but had no intention of doing anything about it. Just thought I would let them think about what they had done.

So, I ended up with a nice portfolio of LockStream stuff anyway. How did I manage to do this? I had a recycle box under my desk, that no one knew (or cared) about. I just grabbed it on the way out, along with every piece of paper in my files and on my desk. Sometimes, people underestimate me, even though I prominently display my MENSA membership certificate and IQ (148) on my wall.

Remember a few weeks ago when someone sent the link to the picture of the guy with the sign, "Will write for <stock options> food." ? I thought it was cute, and printed it out. I taped it to my monitor on my way out the door.

Diane Evans

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