Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Dreaded Three

You know how they always say that bad things happen in threes? I think they mean that bad things happen in multiples of threes. At least, they do in relation to me. I zoomed right past three along time ago and moved on to 6...9...12... Seriously, what is the deal this past year? Enough!

I'm sure you're all wondering what in the world I could be ranting about this time. Haven't I had just about everything that could possibly go wrong with one person happen to me in the last several months? Haven't already got enough to complain about? Apparently not. Someone thought I needed a little more. At the beginning of this month I was informed I will be laid off at the end of September. My office is merging with another, and there are only attorney positions for two. Right now, between the two offices, there are three attorneys. I didn't make the cut. I won't go into all the details associated with that, because there are a lot of emotions and hurt feelings right now, a few I'm sure I will never get over. Or, at least, it will take a lot of years and a certain unmentionable place to develop a nasty ice storm before I get over them. But the bottom line is, as of the end of September, I will be unemployed.

Or will I? As it turns out, I appear to be in relatively high demand, considering. The bankruptcy field in the area of debtors' counsel is, shall we say, booming right now. Not a big surprise considering the state of the U.S. Economy at this point. However, Utah has been a bit behind the rest of the country, and the increase in bankruptcy filings seen across the rest of the U.S. is just now affecting us. That equates to the need for additional, experienced attorneys who can practice exclusively as debtors' counsel. Hey! That's me!

So, I found out about this unfortunate turn of events on a Friday. Needless to say, I did not finish out the day. Instead I sped as fast I could - without getting thrown in jail - straight home and right into the arms of my wonderful husband who had the presence of mind to know that he need not panic, I was doing enough of that for the both of us. (On a side note, here, I just have to say thank you to him for being uncharacteristically calm and collected about the issue of possible shortage of funds on which to live, when I'm positive on the inside he was having a worse mental breakdown than I was. I don't deny I'm lucky! Love you, hon!) Anyway, on my way out of the door that day I began making phone calls. I did not intend to spend more than one second longer than I had to unemployed, regardless of what compensation I may receive for the "no fault" termination of my employment. I called friends who are in the same field and who I knew would have the skinny on any possibilities out there. And while they themselves were not hiring, all offered condolences (and disappointment, since part of the result was the increased difficulty in their jobs) and promised to keep their ears to the ground for me. I spent the weekend fielding calls from friends and family checking on my mental well-being, and trying to convince myself that I was not directly the cause of this event, regardless of what other things I was led to believe.

By Monday I had worked myself into a sleep-deprived, caffeine overloaded, nervous wreck. That was not a fun day to return to the job. At first. But
, I had only been at work for about an hour and a half, when the phone calls began. It seems a good friend of mine posted a fabulously complimentary post about me on the online group forum used by debtors' counsel, letting the majority of that Bar know that I am a victim of the merger. By that afternoon another friend of mine, whom I've told should actually be working for missing persons since he knows everyone, called to find out what was going on. He was one of the first I had called the previous Friday, so he knew about the situation, but he said his phone had exploded with calls, voicemails and texts asking what had happened and expressing shock and rage at the situation. Over the next week I was literally inundated with phone calls, emails and face-to-face conversations filled with disbelief and apologies. You have no idea what something like this can do to soothe a broken self-image. And while such things have slowed down since the initial "announcement", I still receive daily comments in one form or another. I have gotten to the point, in fact, that I am overwhelmed (and humbled) by all the sentiment being sent my way. I had expected a few unhappy people, mainly my friends in the business, but I did not expect the overall constant of disappointment, unhappiness and outright anger that has been expressed to me, only part of which I'm sure I deserve.

But, in the midst of all this, I have also received several job offers. In the first week after the news, I had three lunch meetings, two of which have resulted in offers. I have since had two more offers and had two more approach me "to talk". I have been described as an "expert", "competent help in high demand" and, if you can believe this one "prime real estate in the bankruptcy world". LOL! No, I did not take offense to the last one, since it was meant as a compliment and I knew what they were trying to say. It just struck me as funny. Regardless, such compliments and the reaction of utter shock and disbelief of my colleagues, right down to my toughest and most ruthless opponent, have provided the strength I've needed to keep returning to work until I've decided where else to be.

I have made sure that those looking to hire me understand that with this ordeal, my priorities have taken a 180. My family comes first. I have no intention of jumping into a bad situation out of desperation, panic or fear. I intend to consider all offers and possibilities, and will only accept the one that fits the needs of my family and myself in the best possible way. I feel I have the opportunity to be choosy, and I intend to take it. Everyone who has approached me has understood that and the position I'm in, which I'm grateful for as well.

In the meantime I continue to work where I am, though the stress is most definitely getting to me. I did manage to spend a whole week on our vacation to Vegas (that we just got back from yesterday) and not think about work once. A miracle all in itself. Unfortunately I had to go in to work today (yes, on a Sunday) to prepare for hearings tomorrow. I walked through the door and felt all the angst and all the stress literally seep back into my body. Every day it seems I find something else to be angry at. So, the sooner I make my decision, the better off I'll be. But I'm not rushing things, just trying to deal with the emotions in the interim.

How can I be upbeat about all of this, you ask? Don't be fooled; it's just a facade - pronounced "fu kayd". (Enter in scene from "My Fellow Americans". :-) ) But at least I can find some humor in it. Right before we left on vacation, I couldn't decide if things were getting better or worse. Instead of a job offer, I had a colleague offer me the number for his therapist. No joke. I actually still have her card around here somewhere....

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