Defunct Equines

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.

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6 thoughts on “Defunct Equines

  1. Aubrey – I’ve been there, back in 2009 when I was one of the first Lifestyle people retrenched from the Sunday Times. At the time I thought it would destroy me, that my career was over, that my self-worth was devalued. I went through many of the same emotions as you, though with the benefit of youth and a modern skillset on my side I at least had great employment options. I get what you’re saying about the platitudes, and I don’t want to diminish the challenges you face at the moment, but – it really was the best thing that ever happened to me. It took a little while to get back on track, to understand the lessons, but I’m very conscious of the fact that had I stayed, had I not been pushed, I would be much worse off today. Our circumstances are different so I won’t try and offer any advice, just wanted to say – this too shall pass. Chin up. Don’t let the suits get you down – they’re focussed on a different type of value than that which you offer.

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    1. They were mad to get rid of you. One year we had the hottest, youngest best team of journos in the country; a couple of years later they were all gone, retrenched or encouraged out. Ray Hartley tried to bring the company into the 21st Century but we were booted back to the 1980s pretty quickly. Thanks very much for your comment Steven. Maybe make a a 100 when you pass me at the robots?

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  2. Kind words, but they don’t apply to me. They were justified in getting rid of me, and I have no hard feelings. Different story with you and the others. If I’m ever back in SA (which is unlikely) and I’ll gladly take you for lunch at Thrupps… I’m a sucker for a witty comment chalked on cardboard.

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