Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Best of times, worst of times


I heard last night that JCPenny is closing stores and laying off 2000 people.  I know they’ve been having problems defining themselves.  I know sales in retail across the board was lower than hoped during the holidays.  And I know the feelings of  fear that is rippling now through JCPenny employees as they wait to see where the ax will fall.

For them it doesn’t feel as though the economy has turned a corner.  For them the future doesn’t look bright.  They can’t see the end of the tunnel.  For them it’s not a news story, not a statistic, not a theoretical unemployment figure.  It’s personal.  It’s like someone is shooting fish in a barrel and they are the fish, scary in its randomness.  Who will survive?  And why?

I speak from experience when I say there is a kind of survivor’s guilt during times like these.  “Downsizing” is a nice word for what actually feels like multiple deaths in a family.  Often sudden, surprising, unexpected.  You are unprepared even though you knew times were slow.  You see closed office doors as if they are casket lids, and you feel sharp, unexpected pangs of loss.  These are family members who are suddenly gone through no fault of their own – for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Every day while downsizing is going on you go to the office as if going to a funeral.

These are the times we are in.  And it isn’t happening to other people, it is happening to all of us.  Some of your friends or neighbors or acquaintances are waking up today without a job they had yesterday.  Families are figuring out what the new normal is and how to make do.

Those left behind are trying to figure out what the new normal is too.  And feeling sad and guilty.  Those left behind are in mourning and I’m not overstating that.  Mass layoffs are tragedies.  People on both sides of the ax will need time to regroup.  Grief comes from unexpected places.

Today I’m headed for the office like usual.  But I’m going to miss  some very nice people, good people, hard working people that won’t be there.

I wish them the absolute best.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

10 thoughts on “Best of times, worst of times

  1. We see layoffs in our building every year. It is just awful. Especially when they seem to lay off the people that really need the job (and benefits) the most. Heartbreaking when you have to see good people leave, wrought with anxiety.


  2. I hadn’t heard about this (but have not been paying much attention to the news lately). I’m sorry to hear it. “Downsizing” seems like an awfully polite word for something so harsh.


  3. We heard about JC Penny last night too and you know I must admit I haven’t been in their store since they tried changing their “style” I use to love JC Penny with all the bargains you could get on good quality clothes…but when they changed and tried going more upscale – they lost the plot and a lot of customers!!!! I wish companies would follow one simple rule – “if it ain’t broken don’t try fixin it”


  4. I had read that JC Penney has been struggling for quite some time, never quite finding their place or the leadership to get them where they needed to be. It is sad, but what can be done?

    Your company isn’t downsizing, is it? I hope that you have as much job security as anyone can. The economy has been tough – we’ve lost several small businesses in our area, and some of the larger businesses that were planning to come in just before the fall have cancelled those plans.

    Sent from my iPad



  5. You’re right about the mourning and grief, and survivor guilt. I’m from a small-town that’s been in the news because of the mass lay-offs that happened. In Wilmington, Ohio, one company employed a few thousand people, and supported the economy of the entire area. DHL bought the company, and shortly thereafter mothballed the facility. Everyone in the area was impacted, and knows someone who lost a job. I know you can’t depend on a job, but it’s a tough lesson to learn, no matter who you are. Best wishes to everyone in these tough times.


  6. Dawn, this is so well-written! Especially love your line about shooting fish in a barrel — yep, it’s just like that.
    Once I worked for a PR agency that went belly-up. Wasn’t the economy’s fault, but the end result was the same: ALL of us were in the unemployment line. It very much feels as if someone yanked the rug right out from under your feet. Here’s hoping those poor folks can find other employment. And soon!


  7. When I heard the news I was thinking of Eastgate Mall ten miles from my home where JCPenny is one of the major stores. Sears sits at the other end. If they close that store and with Sears talking the same way not only will those store employees be hurt, but the whole Mall with it’s many stores will be in trouble. The ripple effect is terrible.
    Sorry we have not been around but my Lee was in the hospital and we are slow getting back to blogging.
    Thanks for being a friend
    Sweet William The Scot


  8. You are right on, Dawn. My family has been hit, too. I could say more but don’t want to go on and on. Not a quick and easy topic. Thanks for taking it on.

    On a happier note, the new banner with snowy Katie is adorable!


  9. The movie Up In The Air comes to mind. I’ll intend that whoever holds the axe has a kind spirit and a kind heart with no expectation that it will be appreciated in the moment. I’ll take a moment to send energy and intend that the best is yet to come for those laid off and that it comes soon. Heartfelt post.


  10. Hi, Dawn,
    sometimes it feels MORE like “The Worst of Times,” Doesn’t it?

    I love your compassion for others. Xxx


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