Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday On My Mind: ULC = FMFC = Gone

Your Weekend Assignment #179: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: of all the days of the work week, which is your favorite? Yes, I know a lot of people will default toward Friday, because it's an easy one, but I hope you will actually put some thought into your response and give each day its due. If you finally settle on Friday, fair enough. But even Monday has its good points, you know?

Extra Credit: Name a song you like with a day of the week in it (you can include Saturdays and Sundays for consideration here).

Look, I'm going to dispose of this one quickly for a change, because I have something else to write about. Something important. See, as of today, it doesn't really matter to me what day of the week it is.

Historically, yes, Friday was the one, not because of the weekend per se, but because I could stay up all night and then sleep in. Monday's a good day when Heroes has a new episode, and Tuesday's a good day when House, MD is new. At one time it was a good day because of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Wednesday used to be great because of Quantum Leap, but that was a long time ago. Ditto Friday, same show. Going further back, Thursday used to be Barney Miller night. When I was at the University of Phoenix, I had class on the same weeknight for over a year, and liked it. Oddly, though, I can't remember whether it was Mondays or Thursdays. Thursdays, I think, but there were also a few Monday runs.

Okay, yeah. Friday, because of the all nighter thing. But I'm not especially enthusiastic about Friday at the moment. I'm even less enthusiastic about Thursday, because today was a Thursday. I can't really blame today on a column of my calendar, though.

I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
- Arthur Dent, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Thursday paper and today's paperwork, collected elsewhere

On this particular Thursday, I got up as usual, checked my email, got dressed and headed off to work, stopping off at McDonald's on the way for a Sausage McMuffin with Egg. (Note that I've banned bacon for the summer, as promised.) Then I got back in my car, which happened to be parked in front of the newspaper vending box. Glancing up as I prepared to back out of the space, I happened to see the newspaper headline above. Why is this significant? The answer requires that I shred the veil of playful secrecy surrounding the name of my employer.

Unnamed Largish Company = First Magnus Financial Corp

From February: the building on the left is First Magnus.

If you were hoping that perhaps I was with the CIA or some other exciting organization, then I apologize for disappointing you. First Magnus is a company that originates and sells home mortgages, on a wholesale and retail basis. Or, at least, it was. We all know how the real estate and mortgage markets have imploded this past year, but FMFC wasn't particularly into risky loans, and didn't hang onto them long enough for people to default on them. I thought we'd be okay. So did everyone else. But that headline sounded pretty dire. I bought the last newspaper in the box and drove to the office at Fifth and Wilmot.

A local tv news camera crew sets up in front of the FMFC entrance

The first thing I noticed when I arrived was that there was a Channel 4 News truck parked in the lot. The second thing I noticed was that there was ample parking available, at a time of day when I was used to driving around to find even one space in the entire lot.

The third thing I noticed was employees standing by the employee entrance, chatting, some of them next to carts full of boxes; and other employees carrying boxes to their cars. I went up to the door and asked an acquaintance to tell me exactly what was going on.

"It's over," she said. "An email went out last night. They're telling everyone to pack up their personal belongings, turn in their badges, and leave."

When a company collapses, the accounting people are always the last to go, right? Someone has to account for disposal of assets and final paychecks and so on. Yeah, well. Not this time. I went upstairs and made my boss give me the specific news for the accounting department, but it was the same as everyone else's.

Remember my tale of the ID badge, lost in the rain two years ago? The badge in the shot above is the one I gave the facilities guy who was guarding the door, helping people with their carts and making sure nobody stole anything. It's actually the third one I've had. I replaced the second one because my picture was all faded and awful, but this one was getting to be almost as bad. Now I don't have to replace it.

I managed to pack up my Intermediate Accounting textbook, my Lilo toy, Zorro, my plant (which has been looking rather sickly for two weeks), my Mary Poppins calendar, my plush Scamp, my small rotary fan, my CDs, my headphones and my recycling into a couple of boxes and bags I had at my desk. Afterward I found out that there were boxes available in the hall. Oh, well.

Brad, a science fiction fan from the next cubicle over, figured that his two years at First Magnus would be good for his employability. He was placed with the company by the same temping firm that got me my job. A few phone numbers and email addresses were exchanged, and everyone wished everyone luck. Then I went downstairs, borrowed a cart from the mail room, and took my stuff out to my car.

By the time I got to my next destination, my plant had no leaves left on it.

I've just realized that I left my Doctor Who CD in the computer's CD drive at work. Drat.

Unnamed Largish Company revealed at last - almost

As I drove away, I hurriedly snapped this photo of the sign by one of the entrances. For two years I've been avoiding taking pictures of anything with the company name, because I didn't want to name the company in this blog. When I shot this today, I was a little worried that someone would object to my taking the picture. So I rushed it, and failed to notice that I didn't get the whole sign into frame.

This sign counts as a fixed asset by the way, specifically tenant improvements. That was one of the things I did for the company, track fixed assets and reconcile the relevant accounts. I don't see this revelation as a company secret at this point, so there you are.

The employee entrance was considerably less idyllic today

I think I published this photo back in February, but with the company logo smudged out. Here is is again, unadulterated.

People from two different agencies that place accountants in temporary and temp-to-hire positions have been wonderful to me today, and expect to place me quickly. One of these agencies is in the same building as about a third of First Magnus's 800 local employees. The agency's people were downstairs for much of the day, counseling distraught ex-employees and offering to help. Fortunately for me, I don't go head to head with most of them in the Tucson job market. I'm not after a job in customer service, underwriting, funding, closing, or other mortgage-related positions. The number of actual accountants with FMFC was small enough that the job market should be able to swallow us fairly easily. I'm better qualified than most of the people I worked with directly, and the one temp agency that had me do a bunch of times tests was very impressed with my scores.

So I'm not worried - not more than 1% worried, anyway. John is shocked, but handling it well. I was doing well all day, very surprised (there was very little to suggest I needed to worry about the company's viability) but not really upset. As the day winds down, though, I guess you can say I'm a little depressed. But I'll be fine. Really, I will. I wish I could make myself tackle that Prince Talber scene, though, and avoid losing momentum with the novel edit. I don't seem to be up to it tonight, but I'll try again in a bit.

Let's do Scalzi's extra credit question to finish off. What weekday-featuring song do I especially like? Well, despite having Friday on My Mind by the Easybeats stuck in my head as I write this, the answer is Lady Madonna by the Beatles:

Tuesday afternoon is never ending
Wednesday morning papers didn't come
Thursday night your stockings needed mending
See how they run

Yeah, well.

Wednesday night the candles won't keep burning
Thursday morning paper gave the news
Friday morning got to call at Apple
I've got the blues.


Tucson's First Magnus Financial cuts off loan funding, sends workers home

Newly jobless pack up at Tucson headquarters

First Magnus chairman: Recent events 'a knock-out punch'


Carly said...

Hey Karen

Well, sigh, that absolutely sucks. You know how it goes, all of we earthlings get pushed through doors, we would rather not open. Most of the time, however, we end up finding wonderful opportunites we would have otherwise overlooked. There is a job out there, just waiting for you to come, and bring your uniqueness to it. The adventure awaits...

Always, Carly

julie said...

Well, phoey. There are stronger words, and you've probably thought of them all, plus a few more creative than what's going through my mind. (I'm just hooking up the morning coffee IV.)

But I suspect you're right: There will be a lot more call for people with your skill set than there were for programmers when the tech bubble burst. Still, this story reads like so many tech layoffs.

I'll be pulling for you!

Astaryth said...

Blech! That just s*cks! Here's hoping you find something you like just as well or better!

Wil said...

Fucking A. That just sucks. My condolences on your loss of gainful employment. It always hurts, but when you are an accountant and don't see it coming -- whoo we! Blindsiding bastards, they are.

Best of luck with the job hunt. Perhaps this'll serve as impetus to get your manuscript in the mail to DAW.

Becky said...

Holy crap! Well, they sure didn't handle that very well, did they. An email? Boxes at the door? Wow. I I've sorta been in your shoes. I was "involuntarily downsized" from the, once, largest telecom company on the planet...until it got broken down and sold off bit by bit. But I had lots of warning about the layoffs. I actually sorta volunteered to be let go (shhh). I didn't want to work full time anymore. I wanted to just stay home with my baby. I got my wish - with a nice severance package. I hope they give you guys SOMETHING in the weeks to come. Unemployment just doesn't cut it, but at least it helps a little. I know you will land on your feet and find a new job in no time. But might I suggest you take a couple weeks before you start looking in earnest? Can you imagine how much you could get done on your writing if you had all day and night for the next couple weeks to work on it? :-)

Good luck, my friend! I know you'll be fine.

MyMaracas said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you, Karen. Been there myself, and it's no fun. It sounds like you're in a good position to find something new and exciting, though. Good luck in the search!


DesLily said...

Well I sure fell behind on this news! Afraid I was wrapped up in doing some dealings of my own.. sheesh..
Sure hope you find something as soon as you want. (notice I am allowing you a well deserved break here ! hehe).. I hate job hunting so I don't envy you in that respect.. sure hope whatever you find winds up being better than what you had!

Kate said...

That's awful news. I'm very sorry you have to go through this. However, I'm happy that you'll be placed in another job soon.

Hang in there.