Once upon a time, when horses were no longer needed for whatever job they performed, they were sent to the Glue Factory. It seems harsh but at lest the end was quick: being retrenched in my 50s seems a little like that. Those who make it to retirement are the lucky ones, put out to grass with a comfortable pension and a gold watch – or handshake if they are in senior enough.
Retrenchment is another story, as many former colleagues will agree. Louise, Fiona, Lee-Ann [and Leigh-Anne], Charmain, Mike, Jeremy, Susan, Oliver, Matthys, to name just a few from my immediate circle: the attrition rate at Times Media Group in the last few years has been brutal.
A couple of words of advice for those who are still lucky enough to have jobs: spare the redundant the platitudes:
There’s life after Times Media
This is the best thing that ever happened to you
In a year’s time you’ll be so glad this happened!
You’ll see, when one door closes another opens
No, no, no and no! I don’t know anyone of whom any of the above cliches apply. Being quizzed about your plans is not much better. After over 21 years in a company, imagine being retrenched and have a look at the Situations Vacant pages. Actually, you can’t – everything is online now so if you don’t have a computer with an internet connection at home you are screwed.
Jobs are designed for young people with skills that weren’t even invented ten years ago. Ideally you should also be attractive, thin, energetic, have rich parents who can support you because the salary they offer is not enough if you aspire to more than a shack, own a car – and being black is more or less understood.
When people ask me what I’m doing I tell them I’m in training. Yes, training for the day when Self Pity becomes an Olympic Sport. I know the competition will be tough but I think I have what it takes to become an Olympian – provided there is no upper age limit of course. When it comes to feeling sorry for myself I am a champion and I know I can earn gold for Zuma. Or whomever.
But until then there’s my UIF to sort out, panicky calls to my Man of Business [as my mother called them] not to mention endless appointments with my banker as he tries to sort out some arrangement whereby I can live.
If you’re retrenched you can’t touch your pension, not without heavy penalties, or any other policies which mature in nine years time, my official retirement age. A few years ago I heard of retrenchment insurance but we’d had so many rounds of retrenchments and I was so key to the Sunday Times I knew I didn’t need to worry.
If only I taken than instead of wasting thousands on a policy promising me megabucks if I go to hospital: I’m healthy as a horse – even if I have been sent to the glue factory with a “Not wanted on Voyage” sign on my rear.
Please, when you drive through Rosebank and you see a large, elderly woman at the traffic lights holding cardboard sign saying “Will Work For Food From Thrupps”, have pity and hand over a 50. You never know, you could be next.