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A Black Swan Of My Very Own!

 One week ago, I, along with all employees of the print division of Brown Industries, was summoned to a meeting. Tensions were high and fear was palpable, as work had been slow for several weeks. Layoffs, it seemed, were to be announced. 

If only it were so simple. Speaking through a poorly set up PA system, one of the two CEOs announced that funding that had been sought had fallen through and the company could no longer sustain operating costs. Brown Industries, inventor of the carpet sample industry and economic juggernaut for more than 60 years, would permanently suspend operations. 

I was suddenly unemployed. 

All were stunned. A short Q&A session took place in which we were reassured this wasn't the fault of labor, this was a failure on the management level. Cold comfort, to say the least. My immediate coworkers and I returned to our desks and began filling boxes with photos and other personal effects. I was reminded of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and seeing footage of people solemnly leaving the building with boxes of years worth of memories.

We were told we could leave early to "process", if we chose to do so, but to return on Monday for regular hours. A flyer with scheduled layoffs was handed out. Hired only seven months before, my last day was slated to be Monday.  

The purpose for coming in, we were told, was in order to meet with human resources reps from a large local business who had agreed to help with placement of the recently laid off. My meeting was essentially a conversation something like this:

"So, lost your job, uh?

"Yes."

"Would you like to be considered for a position with us?"

"Yes. I worked for your firm for 12 years in-"

"Yeah, that's great. Go to our website and click the Careers link."

A smiling person handing out business cards would have been much more efficient, but the five hour wait for a meeting added to my last day's pay. 

Closure announcement on Friday, dismissed on Monday. Truly, this was a personal Black Swan, which is described as "an unpredictable or unforeseen event, typically one with extreme consequences." Normalcy and security had been yanked out from under me, leaving me in a swirl of chaos. 

I happen to work well with chaos. 

On the day of the announcement, I used to left-early-to-process time to update my resume, something I do regularly just in case an event like what just occurred should happen. Next, inform friends and family of what happened, leveraging their knowledge of employment opportunities to search for suitable work. Reluctantly, I also applied for unemployment benefits, because a mortgage doesn't pay itself. 

As it was a weekend, a pulled a few all-nighters applying for positions online. This was fruitful, as I have completed several interviews and have more scheduled in the coming days. Interview days are exciting and hopeful; days without an interview pass slowly and it is easy to succumb to doubt and fear. Staying focused and working toward security helps immensely. When all else fails, take a break. Walk. Clear your head. Sit by a stream and listen to its tale. 

There are many Black Swans among us; Covid-19 resurgence, inflation rising, supply chain failures and more. But this one is mine and I plan to play the hand I've been dealt for all it's worth. Being 53 and unemployed is a frightful situation to find oneself in, but this is where I am. 

Worry can wait. Now is the time to embrace the sudden change and take every advantage that unexpectedly presents itself. 

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