Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The End Of Mary Tyler Moore

"I think that the notion of job security I referred to earlier -- such a staple of life when I was growing up -- was just part of an era. I don't think it's the defacto way things are with working in America, or even should be."
Within less than a week of my post "Uncommon Strategies For An Uncommon World," the company for which I had been working full-time, and had recently switched to freelancing for, suddenly closed. Within a month, after the paperwork has been done and things are squared away, the company will most likely cease to exist. There are new tenants in the space already.

Please do not extend condolences to me. I have a near-ghoulish knack for forecasting events far in advance of their occurrence. I build my skill sets and develop my outlook to accommodate such developments. I've become very practiced in the art of feigning surprise.

What I do not feign is my sympathy and sorrow for my co-workers, most of whom had no idea the axe was going to fall so soon, if at all. This was not a young company, and several people had invested a chunk of their lives in it. To be frank, dealing with this was like dealing with a death -- the death of an entity, rather than a person. The death of a routine. The death of a specific set of plans.

Nor do I blame the owner of the company, who probably held out as long as she did as much for her employees as for a particular business strategy. She worked hard to maintain a family-like and humane atmosphere for the organization.

This all feels like a flashback to when Acclaim Comics closed the doors to their NYC office -- what, exactly TEN YEARS AGO?

And yet it's like me looking back from the other side. When Acclaim closed, I was caught completely unaware, and I was devastated. We all were devastated. But I remember how my immediate boss, who had just prepared her first novel for her publisher, was so zen about the whole thing. I just couldn't understand it -- why wasn't she as distraught as me? How could you be calm? The company, as we knew it, died. The company died!

Now I understand.

My company was not in the comic book field. And yet, I cannot help but think of Virgin Comics as I write this. Virgin won't be the last one to fall in this period of economic slowdown/clusterfuck. I expect more sudden axes to fall -- not out of any insider info, but based on that same ghoulish intuition. I'm not happy about it. It's never happy.

And how do we survive such uncertain, uncommon times?

1. Be Flexible
2. Anticipate Change
3. Develop New And Relevant Skill Sets

Mary Tyler Moore used to be my model as far as making it in a career was concerned. I've been wracking my brain for the last ten minutes trying to come up with an example of a pop-culture heroine who embodies what my current role-model is. But I can't think of one. I think I'm going to have to create one.


  1. Val, sorry to read this bit of news. I am relieved that you seem to have prepared for it, though. While it's a skill you probably don't wish you needed, I'm glad to know it's working for you in this case. I hope this means you have some good news as to future projects just around the corner. As I've been reading your blog in recent weeks, I've gotten the feeling your star is on the rise, and I'm optimistic that will continue for you.

    Best wishes to you.

  2. Sorry to hear. Unfortunately, it's not at all uncommon; seems to be the rule these days, in fact.

    I strongly recommend the book, "Free Agent Nation" by Daniel Pink.

    Good luck!

  3. With you all the way!

    *fist in the air*

  4. Anonymous11:48 AM

    I've written for some time about the slowdown and lay offs.

    I do think you're right about how our parents viewed jobs, although I might argue against it being a single period in history. These days, it certainly behooves you to A) identify and B) develop skills that are marketable, rather than just doing whatever your job requires before being cast away.

  5. Your pop culture role model should be Lauren Graham on Gilmore Girls. She worked in a field she loved for others until she got the capital/moxie enough to break out on her own successfully.

    Plus she was very well-read and always had a pithy comment on the tip of her tongue.

  6. ... Yikes, welcome back from the long weekend, indeed. Best of luck post-closing.

  7. At the risk of seeming insensitive, I've gotta say I LOVE the images you chose to go with this post. Brilliant!

  8. Good luck, Val. And good luck to all your friends and coworkers at the company.

  9. Val, you are your own role model. This blog started because you shared with us, complete strangers, what you've experienced.

    Take all that, fictionalize it, and create a role model for someone else to write about ten years from now.

    And when you do, we'll be first in line to buy the book, DVD, or whatever it is!

    Good luck. Want us to help you with the job search? I hear DC has an assistant editor position open... *GRIN*

  10. Sorry about the job. And that extra perception can be kinda eerie in it's accuracy, can't it?

  11. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Sorry about your news ... went through this about 12 years ago as well, entered a different career, and now am starting a whole new one with new skills sets. It's exciting and scary, and absolutely what people need to do in this day and age. You've got to keep swimming (cue Ellen Degenerous Dori voice now).

  12. "It's a long way to Tipperary..."