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Twice I Lost My Job

In 1990 the big cut happened. It was needed but it was very traumatic for so many people. There were many people who were laid off, or forced to retire. For people who had come to work at IBM in the 60 and 70s this set their world on its head. IBM had never laid anyone off. They were very careful not to so as to prevent a union from gaining any foothold in the company. When people went to work for IBM, they joined an organization where the culture was that you we're an "IBMer" for life. It was almost like a cult, especially in the plants, but in the sales offices too.

When this big cut occurred and they closed the Mansfield office, I went three months without having a job. I knew my former job as a client rep was gone, but I didn't know what I was going to be doing next. My manager just kept telling me don't worry, we'll find you something. I sat at home for three months, wondering what I would be doing. Toward the end of three months, I knew of people who were being let go because they had gone three months and hadn't found anything. I was starting to get nervous, even though the managers were saying, don't worry, but every time some job prospect came up, something happened to it.

Finally I got an interview with Kathy Hofstrom. She needed a product sales rep. I was told that I had the job, I just needed to meet with her and talk it over. So I met her at Bob Evans on her way from Cleveland down to Columbus and we talked about the job and what my experience was, etc. The next day I got the job.

The first time I went to Columbus to meet with her and my new department, she told me she had 9 candidates for the job. I said, "Nine? I thought I was the only candidate!" She said, "Who told you that? There were nine different candidates." I didn't realize how close I came to not having a job.

Working At Home

When they closed the office, the employees who were left told the management that we could just work at home. IBM was just starting to think about having employees do that, so they said OK. We were the first people I knew of to work out of our homes. We had all been around IBM long enough to know not to ask how to do it, because we'd probably get answers we didn't like, so we just did it. For example, no one really knew what to do as far as phone lines, so I just ordered two lines from the phone company and bought a speaker phone. I didn't ask, I just did it. We backed Bob's pickup truck up to the loading dock at the office, loaded up a desk and two chairs and moved them into my basement. Didn't ask anybody, we just did it. I'm sure IBM wouldn't have officially allowed it, but they were selling all the furniture out of the office for cheap anyway, so why not? When I leave IBM, if they want them back they can come and get them - HA!

Loosing My Job Again

In September of 1999, I was a technical specialist for the Networking Hardware Division, and I went on vacation. I was at home painting the house and so I was checking e-mail everyday. I got a notice about a conference call that seemed kind of ominous (short notice, wide distribution, no subject, high level management presenting), so I listened in. IBM was announcing that they were getting out of the networking hardware business. I was out of a job again! My vacation ended immediately. This time, I started calling everyone that I had worked with who I thought might think I did a decent job. My managers were once again telling me don't worry, but I didn't just sit around waiting for them to find me a job, I worked the phones. It was another three months before I got an interview and guess who it was with - Kathy Hofstrom! This time she was only talking to two or three people and she hired me again. I told she had made the same mistake twice.

I actually did get fired once when I was kid. Read the details.