Things were good until I got the text. I had sent out my ‘Happy New Year’ message to my various circles, including to the people I used to work with at the Club. Life is different now, but I don’t want to lose them.
One reply message came back that made me lose sleep. I had written something about smooth sailing in the New Year. What came back was the news that everyone had been told that they are being laid off at the end of January. The message said that I must have known it, and that I never cared about them.
I hadn’t known it.
I have been very careful regarding making any contact with anyone from the club. I haven’t wanted the new guys to assume that anyone there now has divided loyalties with the old guard. New leadership is commonly territorial, especially if they are failing.
I had told the new guys that their learning curve was going to be brutal and not to underestimate the brutal personal effect of nocturnal show hours combined with daytime operational hours. I told them that they will reap what they sow almost immediately – usually on the floor during a show in really good or really bad ways – and that treating people honorably was a smart financial move even if their hearts weren’t in it. My job had been split amongst 4 new guys who came in with the sale, and I taught them everything I could to help them succeed…and through success be able to take care of the employees and music people that I as leaving behind. But something kept them from listening or learning or caring. So now they are failing.
Like an online date, everything about them looked great on paper.
The people I’ve talked to have said that no golden parachutes have been offered so far. No severance packages. No job placement services. And because hours have been cut back so dramatically in the past 15 weeks, it’s unclear who will even be eligible for unemployment insurance.
I just saw “Les Misérables” and keep thinking about the question that shaped the life of Jean Valjean:
What can I do?
With him, he had unwittingly played a part in the destruction of Fantine when he didn’t intervene in the accusations that led to her losing her job. In his mind, and hers, it didn’t matter that he had been ignorant to what had transpired. When he discovered her circumstances, he dedicated himself to helping her. When her ultimate salvation proved to be impossible, he dedicated himself to caring for Cosette, giving Fantine peace and comfort before her death.
Perhaps because of me, maybe people stayed around longer than was wise because I pitched the new guys too hard. I honestly thought that they could succeed. Others had come around. These were the only ones who had the money, the resumes, the vision, and the strength.
Now the seed will be scattered. They have new talents to offer because of this last peculiar entry on their resumes, the one that catches everyone’s attention and creates groupies. But that is no guarantee that they will land well somewhere and take root again.
I can provide reference letters and proofread resumes and spread the word and offer kind words and reminders about how extraordinary they are. But I struggle with understanding where the difference lies between the importance of having faith, and instead being foolish for championing a lost cause. Do captains stay on shipwrecks because they might be able to execute a last ditch maneuver that will keep the boat afloat, or is it because they should go under for their failure.
Maybe I need to know the answer. But for now, I just want to hear back from someone that I called. Someone who used to think that I cared, and used to trust me.
Quote of the Blog from Winston Churchill: “If you are going through Hell, keep going.”
Image from “The Garden of Earthly Delights” triptych, details from “Hell” panel, by Hieronymus Bosch.