Friday 18 February 2011

Inappropriate car collisions of emotion

The clues in the title, don't bother reading on if you find admitting to have them indulgent. 

Emer Coleman says humans are messy. Well so is this post, because it's the culmination of two weeks which have affected me deeply, but in which I have felt, very much, as if I had no right at all to feel a thing.

I'm not a robot. 

I got nothing done last week. I admit it freely. I hope that the people I have confessed this to will take into account my usually ferocious and excessive work ethic when judging me on this admission. I am not alone, either. I can't speak for others, but I really don't think I am.

You see, while certain sectors of society will celebrate each -1 one which appears on our HR payroll listing, the -1 themselves is going through utter hell. That simple 2 digit expression does nothing to encompass the dents in pride, the loss of dignity, the unstemmed anger, nor the ferocious intense desperation to understand why this is happening and why it must happen so fast and why their post in particular has been selected for deletion. It lacks emotion, a -1. And yet for some it will evoke a very different emotion - satisfaction, achievement and relief that there's one less salary draining the deficit ever downwards.

Of course, it never is just -1. It's -spouse +2.4. A family, in other words, who probably rely rather heavily on the -1's pay if the -1 is male. Because we still live in a society, whether we like it or not, where 9 times out of 10 the main earner is male. 

Let's not even contemplate the decimation caused by there being two -1's in the same household - surely that could never happen - people don't show emotion at work. People don't fall in love at work. People don't marry people they fall in love with. At work.

It's a long path to the confirmation that you will be -1. But...

There are other people in this equation. The non entities. The non existant. The invisible. I call them the guilty. I am one of them. We survived. This time. But we all, to the last, know our number is up. That the only job post left in local government will be procurement and commissioning. We're all checking job pages and we're all looking at the ties which bind and desperately trying to work out a way of unravelling them, burning them, escaping them.

We sit and try and be positive. We sit and try and maintain some kind of service. We lose ourselves, some of us, in the process and the procedure as a way of dealing with the guilt of surviving and watching colleagues and friends going through hell. Some of us have shed tears. Some of us have drunk the sadness away. Some of us have got disproportionately angry in random places. Some of us have snapped, some of us has been unnecessary harsh, some of us aren't sleeping and the bags are just getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

Frankly, people in both camps look like hell, right now.

The problem with Twitter, you see, is that you only see half the story. Don't judge people on the way it might look that they are or are not dealing right now. Don't assume life is rosy just because some people have an in built relentless need to find the positive. It doesn't mean we don't feel. It doesn't mean we have no emotions. It simply means we don't know how else to deal and the show must go on.

Sounds callous. But we serve. That's what we do.

There are two camps on Twitter, replicating the two camps which exist out in the real world. There are those who've been issued risk notices, those who're interviewing, some at the mercy of matrices and some whose 90 days notice has been issued and who are winding down and searching for work. 

But there are also those who got issued (and those who didn't) with 90 day notices which got pulled. There are those who got interviewed and were successful. There were those whose skills came up rosy on the matrices. 

It's a complicated mix of complicated and intricate emotions inflicted on a group of people who are, in the main, terribly British.

Welcome to the car crash which is currently local government. Where no one quite knows what to say, everyone either feels miserable or guilty, and the work, the service, must still go on.


  1. Looking closely at what you are saying, nobody has yet been made redundant. Reading between the lines, some people have been given notice that their position is at risk. This means that they have 90 days and could still be in a job if they can justify it.

    Having been in the same position, I can say that they need to fight their corner, get the statistics to prove they are doing a worthwhile job that can't just be removed, and make sure they don't just lie down and accept it

    Also remember that 90 days is a MINIMUM. There is no maximum. They can quite legally keep you waiting for as long as they want, all the while your position is "at risk".

  2. Sadly, people have been made redundant. Though upon discovering someone else's entire Department had just been wiped out, some perspective was regained - but still. It's not about numbers. Numbers are easy to bat around. Individual people with individual names and individual circumstances are less easy to dismiss as irrelevant.

  3. It's a difficult time. I think you're right to point out that we all deal with it differently, and all have different thresholds of how much of our discomfort/anxiety/stress we will show to colleagues in a work situation. But, to me, one of the amazing things about our community (and Twitter/blogs, as media) are that we don't have to go through it alone. I find that to be hugely valuable.