Learn to Code

Yesterday, Vox Day had a piece on the bloodletting at the Chicago Tribune.

The media hasn’t been so much indifferent as sneeringly amused by the complaints of American workers whose jobs have been eliminated by the financial rapine of Wall Street under a false flag of creative destruction. But they aren’t sneering or laughing anymore now that the financial parasites have figured out how to prey upon their industry:

Vox Day

I have no sympathy for them, whatsoever.

Treebeard, in the Lord of the Rings said it best:

“I’m not for anyone, because no one is for me”

Treebeard

These people were right up there, smugly crowing when others met the same fate. They were the ones that mocked the auto workers and others with “Learn to Code”. I’ve been laid off once, and fired outright twice. You adapt and overcome. I was deep in the carrier networking business when it all melted down in the early 2000s. I watched as my friends and coworkers were mowed down right and left. I was lucky. I got a good package, so I goofed for two months, November and December 2003, and started looking for work after the new year. My wife went to work at an accounting firm for us to make ends meet. When I started looking, there was only one opening on Monster for a network engineer – in Fort Worth – 80 miles from where I lived. In Plano, I met dozens of laid off sales engineers, just like me. To say the market was flooded with unemployed folks with my same skillset is an understatement.

When I got out of school in 1983, a newly licensed broadcast engineer, I entered the market in a wiped out economy and an industry that was newly deregulated just as affirmative action hit that industry hard. You see, the broadcast industry was nearly all white and male at the time. Only thing I could find were unpaid internships and contract work. It took me nearly a year to get a job in the industry, which I soon found out I hated. Not the work, the people. No doubt the newsroom is full of the very same pompous, sanctimonious, and self centered jackasses that I had to endure.

I found a gig at a small company that installed HBO in apartments, for a little over half what I was making at a TV studio. But, I learned something. Give me tools, a car, parts, a pager, and a stack of work and leave me alone to work suited me. For the next twenty years I followed wave after wave of technology, never out of work, with my salary rising 15-20% each year. Until I was laid off by Lucent.

I was lucky. After being laid off, I found a gig five months later, at a little over half my base salary. And we struggled for a few years. Many, many friends weren’t so fortunate, if you could call it that. I’ve known dudes that were unemployed, or underemployed like me, for two years. I can’t tell you how many Knights of Columbus meetings I attended where we passed the hat to help a brother out. We had to sell our house and buy a cheaper, smaller one.

So you might say I’ve seen this movie a few times. I’m familiar with the plot and know how it ends.

I have some advice:

First, if you are in a dying industry, one that isn’t making money and especially if your position there is on the expense side of the ledger, you need to make plans long before the day of the long knives arrives for you. And second, next time, try some humility and don’t smugly mock those less fortunate than you.

It’s all fun and games until it’s your ox that gets gored.