Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

  Laid off

Laid off



No matter how inevitable it was it still hurt when it happened. MontaVista had been patient with me for nearly 6 months of PTO and family leave while I've spewed ectoplasm in all directions. Although I was 2 weeks away from my 3 year anniversary, I could feel the end coming when they sent me a copy of my job description. This was pretty cool, because this was the first time I'd ever seen my job description.

It was my ex-boss's wet dream.

It was impossible for any one human being, even working 10 days a week, to do. There were entire departments dedicated to doing just some of what I was doing in the first place - they still haven't shipped 1/10 the product I shipped with whoever's supposed to be doing it - but I'm just venting ectoplasm again. The thought of facing that gig alone again filled me with fear - and it only was number 8 or so on the fuckingmeupOlist. I'm stuck in the System. I'm still in therapy.

I haven't rehabitulated myself - in Alices Restaurant parlance. So they laid me off.

At first, I felt an enormous sense of relief. I was grateful I could strike number 8 off my list of things I had to do in order to get well. Parts 1-7 had improved enormously and I really was starting to worry about 8 - Chasing down another wild pointer in a C callback function had no appeal.

After I got off the phone with them the secondary reaction set in. My hands shook, I smoked a couple cigarettes.

I am, I think, well on my way to a happy ending for my personal story, at least an end to my grieving process. I've shoveled through some really heavy shit these past months.

This is nothing.

I take some joy in the thought of:

No more NDAs. No more sitting through another corporate fan dance in powerpoint. No more messaging. No more wrestling with Seibold's inept bug reporting system. We called it "Sievil". I'm unchained from my windowless office and the hellish commute. There's 1 less email account to sort spam out of. I can run redhat's linux on my x86 box or play with clusters without feeling guilty about it. I can play with new stuff again. I can play with non-linux stuff again. I don't need a dedicated internet connection anymore. At last, I don't have to compete with the other "mike"s at the office - I can call myself Mike, again, not "mtaht" or "Michael".

But still my hands shake, and I reach for another cigarette to calm myself. There is some anger, some frustration, to work out.

They wasted 80% of my efforts and diluted the rest. They burned me out. Now, all I can think of is working on anything, anything, but working on X11 code for a living. I close my eyes, and I can see it, all 9 million lines of it. I open my eyes, nothing. I dream about it, I have nightmares about it. I tried again and again to offload parts of it, there was broken promise after broken promise, and still more and more got piled on.

No. I burned me out. It's not their fault. I worked myself into the ground because I couldn't face what was wrong with the rest of my life, and when working stopped working, I had to face all that. Me is the most important - and most procrastinated - project I've ever had to take on. Deadlines be damned. I had to learn something basic, a stage that I skipped in childhood. How to say: "No". And then - finish growing up.

No more donuts, bagels or soda within a few feet. Yes. I need a minimum of 4 miles between me and carbohydrates...

I still have to get healthier, more balanced, and restored. I need to install new habits, and get rid of some old, nagging ones - like these damn cigarettes I reach for whenever I face stress. When I'm done this spiritual cleansing I'm going to be better than I ever was, wiser, smarter, more relaxed and focused - I'm going to have fun - and work my ass off - at something great - I don't know what - someday - soon.

Mostly, well, I just want to log off for a while, and write.

I was writing more about my personal debranding exercise, and re-joining the church of me, and of weeding my garden, when they called.

Sometimes parts of your garden get weeded for you. A storm blows up the dead leaves and piles them against the fence.

Michael Taht
Formerly, Member Visionary Staff
MontaVista Software
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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