Today my best friend at work as well as another woman got told that they will no longer have jobs in the near future. Another of my friends was crying as she bumped another onto the pavement due to seniority. All around me tears and a sea of sadness. I hated my helplessness in the face of their tragedy and it took me back to when one of the same women, my friend, lost her daughter in a tragic car accident. There is never anything one can say or do, but everything within me screams that I should be able to fix this, even though my brain knows that I cannot. It reminds me of a book I read once, a Russian author, but I don't remember his name or the novel/short story. He is at a funeral and talks about how in the back of every one's mind is the thought that they are glad the person in the coffin is not them. I think that is how many feel today as the news further demoralizes an already demoralized office. Yes, we are truly sorry, but yes, we are glad it is not us.
As I ride my bike after work today, I wonder what the world will be like when there are no jobs for most people anymore. In a few years, we can get rid of most of the librarians and the libraries. You will be able to download your book from the library to your computer or portable book. No longer will we need to build magnificent buildings to house the knowledge passed down through the centuries or pay people to guard and organize them. That means we won't need the people to build the building or make the materials to build the building or ship the materials to build the building. An endless chain of lost employment. The person at the filling station pumping gas and checking your oil has long vanished. Waitresses and car hops at many restaurants: poof. While this may be inevitable and there are some new jobs created, I suppose I think that for most people working instills a sense of self respect, even if the chore is menial. While sometimes it is quite pleasant to be taken care of, there is something very comforting about the ability to take care of oneself. One question I have posed to parents throughout my years as a social worker is, "How can you care for your child if you can't provide for yourself?" And not everyone is smart enough to hold employment in this brave new world.
I am sad and confused tonight. I at least want to understand things, but I don't. I remind myself that it could be worse. Look at Haiti. But for tonight I mourn for my friend and selfishly, for my own coming loss because despite how often you vow you will maintain these work friendships when someone leaves a post, it just doesn't seem to happen.