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Doomsday Approaches at AOLMMBC

Thursday, October 11, 2007
Since no one asked, allow me to share with you my take on the current climate at AOLMultiMegaBiggaCorp.

For background, read these articles (the headlines alone will give you an idea of what's going on — er, not that the subject of these articles is in any way the same as MultiMegaBiggaCorp, Inc.):
At AOL's Dulles HQ, Preparations for Mass Layoffs
AOL (TWX): Pick the Departing Senior Exec Game!
AOL Fires All Its Contractors?

Steady drumbeat rumors of layoffs began months ago and now appear to have all but beaten down the last of anyone's productive spirit. All but the most critical work has ground to a halt. Across the hall, people are wearing black and dying their hair iridescent shades of pink and green. Okay, the people across the hall have been doing that for years.

Ever since my last office move, I've kept two empty boxes in my office, just in case. This is fairly ridiculous, since the senior management I report to, while not actually making any promises, has given every indication that my position is secure (at least, more secure than most): my VP has thanked me for the job I've done on some projects (pretty rare), and has commented on how she's looking forward to the work I'm going to do in the future (even rarer). So, I have no cause for alarm, and yet I'm alarmed.

All around me, people are reacting to the rumors as if there were banshees wailing in the hallways. The supposed date of the next big "employee action" is coming soon, and the proximity of the date weighs on morale. It's as if we've all been given a death sentence, which is strange, since not everyone can be laid off all at once. But maybe one reason that everyone feels marked for death is that it's really unclear what would be worse: to be laid off in this round, and have some sort of severance package to fall back on while looking for new work, or to keep a job working for a company that, by some accounts, might not have enough money to provide severance packages the next time around.

But just to put all of this in perspective: the median annual household income in the US, as of 2006, was $48,201. I don't think (but I don't know for sure) that any of my coworkers make less than $80,000. Salaries here are, if anything, a little low as compared to the market; the market is still grossly overcompensating individuals for non-transferable "skills" that largely have to do with pushing bits of data around between computer systems. We should be laughing our asses off every other week when our paychecks clear, but instead we're bitching and moaning about how unfair and uncertain life is.

It's times like these when we should all remember the words of Benjamin Franklin: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

Or layoffs at AOLMMBC.


  1. Mrs. B said...

    Don't you mean MultiMegaBiggaCorp, Inc (MMBC)?

    9:20 AM  

  2. OH Bee Juan said...

    As a data mover, I have no comment.

    8:21 PM  

  3. Scott Z said...

    Oops. Yes, I meant MultiMegaBiggaCorp. I've updated the posting :)

    7:56 PM  

  4. OH Bee Juan said...

    uh oh.

    11:22 AM  

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