Dealing With Loss

I’ve avoided writing this post. I knew it would be painful, but I’ve just now been able to formulate what I wanted to say. At least, sort of. I need to say just enough, but I can’t say too much.

I’ve had a hard four months. At the end of November, 2018, I was hit with a reduction in force (RIF) where I worked, which of course, means I was laid off. I’ve always hidden my employer from my writing, never even once mentioning my company.

This is what I did with Duke Energy. I’m a nuclear engineer, at least I was, and a very specialized one at that. My major was in mechanical engineering, but I haven’t done that since my days at a plant early in my career. I have a number of observations to make that hopefully will help you as you ponder these things, and then some prayer requests to make for myself.

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16 Responses to Dealing With Loss

  1. samoore says:

    I was RIF’d the 8th of last month, and as I type this, my 13-year old Wolf Chow is in surgery to have what very well could be a liposarcoma removed.
    If you’re a dog owner, you’ll know which of those concerns me more.

    I have Social, a pension, and some savings.
    I did some math, looked around, and said, “Fuck it, you’re 68 and retired.”

    The writer is 59 (still young) , has a PE, and a lot of experience. Hard to imagine that he can’t find suitable employment — unless he isn’t willing to move to where the jobs are.

    The worst thing he can do is host a pity party.

    Can’t help it if that sounds unsympathetic, but he has a number of options available, if only he could see them.

  2. Well that was a dose of reality on a cold New England morning. Had to sit and think for a while, that brought back memories and not good ones.
    I was where he was nine years ago; 60 years old, laid off and the job sent to India, after six months futilely looking for work my wife of 37 years died unexpectedly.
    So I know that life can go on and when I can I’ll try to go there and attempt to say so to Captain. Just can’t do that right now.

  3. SgtBob says:

    I was fired from my last job at age 55 in 2001. As with Captain, I quickly discovered there were no jobs for a 55-year-old white man, especially when my talents consisted of physical labor, newspapering and soldiering. I worked on five newspapers in Texas and was fired by three — reporting an unethical boss, insubordination and pissing off advertisers. I learned being right has a price. Always has, always will. That first year, I applied for three dozen jobs, got a couple of interviews, with people younger than me. Another realization: People generally don’t hire someone who knows more than they do. I am not complaining. After four years of me not working, my wife got a job that paid more than three times what I made as an E7 in 1990, my last year before being shoved out the door for organic mental disorder, not otherwise specified. Like the old saying about a door closing and another opening, but sometimes it’s a while before the door opens. Just hang in, breathe air every day. Two of my kids are retired, one Army and one Air Force, and the third has less than five Army years left before retirement. Two Iraqs, two Afghanistans and five deployments to another desert location. My youngest (infantry) several times has said, “We got in this (shit storm) and I remember you said (something) and I did it and it worked.” If for nothing else, that completes my life.

    • FrankP says:

      I learned being right has a price. Always has, always will.

      Preach it, brother. I hear you!

      That has been my downfall at more jobs than I will publicly admit.

  4. Spin Drift says:

    I read the link, so boo hoo, your dog died, get off your butt and figure it out, G_d provides the opportunities you have to seize them. You say you have an ENGINEERING DEGREE, well that has value, exploit it. Go try Contract Engineering, they are looking for Grey Beards to teach the youngsters what isn’t taught in school. That is big value to mid size companies. And one thing DON’T BE SUCH A DOWNER. You ain’t seen bottom yet, you’re not even close, it might get worse but I bet it won’t. Keep your head up, one foot in front of the other and let Kenny know so he can tell his faithful what’s happening with you.


    • the other other Andrew says:


      What he has experienced is being kicked when already down.

      First his job encouraged him to be super-specialized, because the modern business-engineering world only wants specialized insects working for them. Seriously. A broad, general knowledge base is seen as a danger. It’s what they advertise for, but never hire for. Why? Because it threatens the managers and other specialists…

      So, first his dog dies, traumatically. Ever have an animal start bleeding and you’re not able to stop it? Cancerous tumors bleed like crazy and don’t respond, even in normal places, to traditional methods of blood stoppage. Plus, it’s his loyal dog, dangit. I knew when I had to take my rottie to doggie Valhalla, after 6 months of battling a nasty cancer, that it would be her last. Still fucking hard, so fucking hard.

      Then his job shitcans him for being an upright dude who threatened by his mere presence some pencil-dicked limp-wristed MBA or senior dude.

      Then, because he is very right about it, he finds out that old white straight dudes can’t get hired for shit, not even qualified for a bag-boy job at the local supermarket (seriously, that’s where retards work, never threaten a retard’s job…)(Sorry for calling them retards, mentally challenged or whatever.)(I know some, nice people, but dammit, I can do that job…)

      Then he finds out that he’s overqualified for some jobs. That’s an unhire-able trait right there. Then he’s underqualified for other jobs. Again unhire-able.

      Then there’s all the job fairs, job services, job help, job this, job that, that are all designed to get minorities, women, women minorities and young people jobs, just not old white men.

      Screwed, blued and tattooed. Just like in “Falling Down.” There’s a reason that over 50 white professional men suck their guns at an unhealthy rate.

      Been there, done that, almost sucked my gun several times. Still here though.

    • Wirecutter says:

      Not a dog owner, are you?

  5. Elder Nerd says:

    I lost my job March 2018, due to budget cuts, though they had enough to offer a real good severance package and a crappy outplacement service to keep me from suing…

    I understand his frustration all to well. I was a Director in IT, with 27 years of experience, cream of the crop, top producer, my teams loved me and would work nights and weekends just to help out of needed. In the current job market, unless you have an Ivy education, personally know/blow the hiring manager, you arent going to get the job.

    My advice, keep at it, keep your head up, and make your own opportunities if it presents itself.

    Contract work is a lie, nobody hires a Director for a menial contract job. Once you sign the contract, you are on the hook for the full duration even if the best opportunity shows up for a permanent placement position, the contracts only offer an exit for the employer, no protection for the employee.

  6. anonymous says:

    What I took from the man’s story is that you can’t count on a career that will last your entire work years. Yes, that has been apparent for the last decade, technology is phasing out many jobs. Fast food – grocery store have kiosks where customer’s do their own checking out – less employees needed.

    Driverless elivery vehicles – well, that has had some issues of late, but don’t think they will try to not figure out the solutions.

    Teachers can do their class lessons from a studio to students at their homes. No more schools needed – saves lots of money on the lack of neded building, school buses, maintenance crew, utilitiies and teachers. And these lessons can be recorded so same lesson taught over and over is not required any more – just need to answer student questions.

    Other examples are out there. Bottom line – business model is cut costs down to BONE – that means less people required. So all of us should have a back-up skill or cottage industry at home where if our ‘real’ job craters, we can go on. Even with reduced income and self insured status, at least it is something. Get your bodies in shape to reduce the need for medicines and exams – good step, if not just for quality of Life.

    • FaCubeItches says:

      ” So all of us should have a back-up skill or cottage industry at home where if our ‘real’ job craters, we can go on. ”

      Apparently, people nowadays are just too good to turn to the old traditional back-up job of outlawry or it’s newfangled cousin, drug dealing.

  7. FrankP says:

    I feel Herschel’s pain.

    Two and a half years ago I was laid off from a job and company I truly enjoyed working for after it was acquired by investment companies. This was not my first layoff rodeo. Even so, it’s always a shock. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

    At very least needing to keep moving, I took stock of my situation. What did I really want to do? It wasn’t to go back to work. Not in my frame of mind. My attitude was bad and it would have been a disaster. So I took a hiatus.

    It wasn’t planned to be a long one, but my sabbatical lasted fourteen months. During that time I staycationed, fishing lakes near home and working around the house; made a few road trips, including flying my hang glider at several new sites; visited old friends, some I may never see alive again and others that I’d mentored who are now professional pilots; even fulfilled the bucket list items of visiting Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

    I looked for work the whole time; the Internet makes that possible. I did all the requisite networking and eventually found myself back at the same company working for a manager I knew, but hadn’t work for before. The new job is completely different from my previous job. Which only means there are new challenges which helps keeps me engaged. Which is important!

    While looking for work I talked to several managers about doing the same job I’d done for 35 years. They didn’t say it, but their attitude did: They wanted someone younger.

    Yes, I took a cut in overall pay with the switch. But I’m still fiscally viable. And at my age that has merit.

    Good luck, Herschel or anyone else in his position. I hope you find a path out of the wilderness. It’s there. Remember that you’ll have to be your own pathfinder. No one is going to do it for you.

    Keep us posted.

  8. Wrench says:

    I work for Duke energy. They eat their own. Anyone working in generation knows the state of the facilities that actually generate electricity today. Forget the lines and switchyards, if it isn’t generated it doesn’t exist to be sent to the grid. Duke is extracting the remaining value from it’s fleet or generation fleet. Not improving or even maintaining really, just juggling the balls as long as they can to take more money for themselves. And yes, upper management, I mean you, when your bot finds these words and sends them to the Duke police for review. You will be upset because someone actually had the audacity to condemn your practices ON THE INTERNET!!! I think if people really knew what was going on and how it will affect this country, but most wont, they would be scared really. 1800’s type stuff that most aren’t ready for or ready to accept. I feel for Herschel, I hope it works out for him. I also feel for our country. If Duke , the largest publicly traded utility , is doing this with the amount of revenue they have, what’s the state of the smaller utilities? Y’all better have a real plan, because it’s coming.

    • lineman says:

      I’ve tried and tried to tell people to get themselves where they aren’t relying on the grid for their power especially those who need it for insulin and other life saving meds or machines but it seems it falls on deaf ears most of the time…Does Duke not have a pension plan for you guys…If he worked at my company he could of just retired at 59 with full benefits…Are you a power plant mechanic or an engineer also…

      • Wrench says:

        The pension was terminated several contracts ago. By the members who voted to keep theirs. Typical really. We get a nice 401k match, go overpriced stock market !! And, we have the worst benefits package in the industry, this is an actual fact sadly. But we have a good hourly wage. And that’s it. I’m no engineer, turbine operator, outside guy . For now anyways, lucky to see this station make another 5 years at the current state. We recently lost our tier 1 status on most of our units too, that is pretty telling imho. Shit is gonna get real in the future, wind and solar can’t touch what we generate, or for what we generate it for. And by the time reality hits the rate payers, it’s too late. And the green energy subsidy takers will be more powerful and wealthy. But hey, what do I know right? Your at least trying brother, good on you. Get that plan nailed down. Peace

        • Lineman says:

          Well if you ever want to come west Brother let me know and I will put in a good word for you…I’m guessing our wage is just as good and you would have a pension to boot, along with a great health plan and all the double time you could handle…Take Care Brother…

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