Monday, June 22, 2009

Houston Bound



I’m heading off to Houston on a business trip. This trip is bitter sweet for me. I’m excited to go since I’ll have the opportunity to meet new co-workers that are in another state, but at the same time this trip is due to the closing of our Massachusetts facility where I currently work - another casualty of the weak economy.

I work for a large technology company that services the financial industry – companies you would easily recognize. The division I work for handles print mail for many large banks, lenders, and other financial institutions. For example, your credit card bill, 401k statement, dividend check, car loan statement, mortgage coupon, or even your electric bill was very likely printed and mailed from one of our facilities around the country. Before working in this industry I had no idea how complicated it was to produce a credit card bill and get it mailed out. But, after working here for almost 2 years I’ll never look at a piece of mail in the same way again.



Getting the right data on a credit card bill is no easy task, and then getting that bill printed properly on the right paper, inserted in the right envelope with the correct address along with any other materials is accomplished through large printing presses and postal machines based on barcodes and machine-readable digits. Ever wonder why there are barcodes on your bills and statements? The barcode counts the number of pages in your statement and makes sure all pages get inserted together in the right envelope with your mailing address. It’s really quite amazing and without that barcode nothing would get mailed.



The reason for my trip is to assist with the transfer of work from the Massachusetts facility to Houston Operations. I work on the technology side of the business managing projects. Over the past few months after learning that our facility would close I was told that I had two options – I could move to Houston or accept a severance package. For me moving was not an option so I’ve been looking for another job. But then a blessing came. About 2 weeks ago they told me that since I was part of the technology team and didn’t need to be onsite with the operations in Houston they were going to let me keep my job and allow me to telecommute from home. I couldn’t think of anything sweeter when I heard this wonderful news.

As the closing of our facility doors grows nearer I’m thankful that I still have a job but so worried and sad for the almost 200 co-workers who are not as fortunate. Each day as I walk around our facility more large machines leave our building on route in a truck headed for Houston. Every time a machine leaves a person who worked that machine loses their job.



I’ll miss the spirited gentleman that manned the check writing machine. We always had the best conversations about politics. And the funny guy who ran the postal inserters – he always told the best jokes. The forklift machine sits idle like some museum dinosaur. The operator’s wife used to bake the best brownies. Then there is the cute white-haired lady who is 75 years young and hand stuffed envelopes to supplement her social security retirement income. I’ll miss them all and I pray for them each day.

Although this blog is about gardening and decorating, I felt compiled to share what is going on in my life right now and to pay tribute to the people who have lost or will be losing their jobs. Each time I go out into in the garden it’s a blessing for me since I could have very well lost it without having a job to pay the mortgage. I never take anything for granted especially now when so many are in dire need of help.

As a sign of hope for all those who have lost their jobs during the finanacial crisis of our country, I'm posting this picture of a banyan tree.


In Hindu religion, the banyan tree is considered sacred and is called "Ashwath Vriksha" ("I am Banyan tree among trees" - Bhagavad Gita). It represents eternal life because of its seemingly ever-expanding branches. In Hindu mythology, the banyan tree is also called kalpavriksha meaning 'wish fulfilling divine tree'.

12 comments:

The Garden Ms. S said...

Thank you for sharing this story. My heart goes out to all your colleagues...it must be so hard for everybody.

Best wishes on your trip! :)

Mildred said...

What a nice, heart-felt post. You are so blessed to be able to keep working from home and I know your heart goes out to those who have lost their jobs as does mine. Hope you have safe travel.

tina said...

I am so glad you shared all of this. It gives some insight in to you and also into what many, many fine folks all across the country are facing. Not a good situation for sure. Glad you got to keep your job and I hope the others find new ones. So sad the loss of all of this. Have a safe trip in Houston.

Outside In said...

What a great story, thanks for sharing it. Hopefully soon the economy will recover and people can find jobs again, Have a great trip.

-Cathy

Dirt Princess said...

I am OVER this economy! I lost my job due to our wonderful economy and cannot find a job in my field for the life of me! It is terrible that so many people are effected, really sad! I wish you the best of luck...seems to be looking in your favor

RainGardener said...

Jackie what a beautiful piece this is in the way that you told the story so well. It's sad to hear once again of more losing their jobs - hopefully our economy will pick up soon and there will be new ones. What a wonderful turn of events for you to keep yours and to work out of your home no less. Your ending with the banyan tree was perfect. Have a safe trip!

keewee said...

As the saying goes "one door closes, and another opens" which happened for you. It is going to be a bitter sweet time for you, saying goodbye to your co-workers.

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

I'm sorry to hear about the closing of the facility. I hate hearing about so many people losing their jobs. I hope the economy starts to improve so more people don't lose their jobs.

CiNdEe said...

Glad to hear you are still going to have a job. But sad for everyone else that is losing theirs. Do you think its because a lot more people are chosing to have online bill pay instead of getting statements in the mail?
Everyone is having such a hard time. My brother will find out on Wednesday if he will lose his job of 25 years)-: Its so stressful everywhere you go and everyone you talk to is losing their jobs. I am thankful to still have a job and my DH is still working too but that could change any day.)-:
Have a safe trip to Texas!

Beegirl said...

Best of luck on your trip. Such a touching post. So sorry to hear about the closing of your facility. Interesting to hear about the detailed work that goes in to something I take for granted everyday...

Jan said...

So sorry to hear you will be losing some wonderful co-workers when the plant closes. I hope they all find employment soon. I know this is a tough time for so many. Good luck with your new circumstances.

Jan
Always Growing

lynn'sgarden said...

Jackie, sad story you had to write but thanks for sharing this. Sure makes you appreciate what you have even more!
Lynn