November 13, 1997

So, in many ways, the dream came true. I also didn't dream last night at all, though that might have been the soccer game. I also had a lot of things written yesterday that I squinted at and decided to take my own advice that I'd given Ceej. Some things are completely incoherent when written within the heat of the moment. Take a day off, a step back and bring some reality to it.

Yesterday was a very anxious day. They were going to tell everyone their fates, as Synario was bought by a new company, in part. Data I/O was being completely oblivious to the future of Synario and the people that made it so in its usual manner and sold the division's assets off in pieces to various companies. But they kept the central technology and the ability to build and sell the universal toolset to sell as a whole. Certain OEM's and revenue streams were kept by Data I/O, so the price of the core was less than it was before. But it also meant that the revenues were less, which meant, in the end, that they couldn't afford to keep everyone.

Which meant some people had to go.

Okay... despite my technical abilities, I have bad, bad, bad inner voices that tell me, pretty solidly, how useless I am. That my technical abilities must, somehow, be less because of my verbal abilities, or other things that I do. A generalist is what Carl called me, but not in a bad way. His meaning was that of someone that would look at any problem and figure out a solution that was technology independent. Someone that could tackle and figure out the entire system rather than the simple technical problem. He's likely right. Problem is that breadth is somewhat at the sacrifice of depth.

So I worried my self sick. They had two rooms, the board room, downstairs, where they took people to give the offers for the new entity and Bill H's room, which was where all the layoffs were happening. And then at 2:30, while the entire division had their heads up to see who went into which room, Bill H. came for me. *sigh* It hurt. Bad. To be told that they just hadn't offered for me. Bill added the somewhat cryptic bit where he said that he wouldn't comment or tell what the new company's criterion had been and then let me back to my cube. I'd have a job until the middle of December, and severance, not a bad deal because I'd been there for five years.

An hour later Ray Goodell came to me to tell me exactly how outraged he was, and that he would be very vocal about exactly what a bad idea it was. So...

Then Bob added his two cents worth.

Then two other engineers as well. Our support folks were completely shocked, which really helped, somehow... just to know that they didn't think I deserved to be let go.

And then John came and asked me, point blank, if it would be okay if he talked to them. He knows I have this problem with being John's wife, that I want to make it on my own, and that I have lots of pride in my abilities and that I didn't really want a spot if the only way I could have it was be leveraging his importance to the group. So I was very glad that he asked. With the other feedback, I realized that I could make a difference on my own merits, that my contributions had nothing to do with John. And that it would be okay.

It was hard to say yes. But I did. Realizing that the reality was that they likely just hadn't realized what it was that I was doing. They had said that the future of the product was important to them, they had said that board and system was important to them, and I'd pioneered both.

Then Linda came to tell me that the only reason I'd been laid off had nothing to do with my technical qualifications. That it was solely because I was married to John, and the buying company had a policy against that. Talk about irony. After fighting for so many years to not be taken on John's merits, I was being rejected solely and completely because of my connection to John.

At about this point, Adam was wandering about with masking tape asking people to lie down in their cubicle so he could do a body outline of the dead ones. It was pretty funny, but I was upset enough to retort, fairly loudly, "I'm not dead *yet*!"

But the CEO, after hearing objections from so many people, took a second look. John's talk with them got him to reconsider a knee-jerk application of a policy that had been made for certain reasons in the founding company. And they said that they'd offer for both John and I. At that point John asked me if I had any question. And... well... being me, I went down to ask them, point blank, if the offer was because of John or because of *MY* abilities. I don't *want* a job taken on John's merits. Never have. And we knew that there would be some problems from working together, but that's part and parcel for the reality.

They answered. They did it sincerely, with some apology and clarity.

I'm sure that some of it is the simple fact that I'm not that expensive, compared to some of the top-notch engineers here, and that while they had a budget, I was small enough to squeeze in. Which isn't bad. I don't want to be a burden.

So, by six, I had a verbal assurance of an offer and I wrangled the details of it this morning, with my offer from another company, and it was signed by afternoon. So it went from utter despair to complete possibility.

What an odd rollercoaster of events.

The soccer game was pretty good break from it all, in the middle of it all, and it felt good to just run hard and not care.

But, all in all, I'm glad yesterday is over, now. I spent nearly all of today getting resources into the hands of the folks that did get laid off, and connecting them up with people that were connected to other high tech places. They all seem well on the way to getting something and somewhere. Spent lunchtime telling the folks that I was meeting with that John and I had an offer, and that it looked good. That folks were pumped for the next steps. Both Steve and Dave wished me luck with John on the new venture, and said that they'd keep in touch.

An hour after I knew about my being laidoff, there had been five different people offering me interviews, jobs elsewhere, everywhere along the West Coast. In my need, people responded so quickly, it still leaves me in awe, bewildered by all the help and all the care for, well... *me*... which was an odd thing and a strange thing for me to realize. Regis characterized it as that very geek-central feeling of always being on the fringe, of being a reject or rejected. But here I was being accepted and wanted by so many.

I'm not sure that I'd say I *liked* being tested in that way, or having my friendships tested in that way. But it was a good thing to know, to see in action what my life has brought me.

And I really am not dead, yet.

© 1997 by Liralen Li

[ Previous | Index | Next ]