Saturday, December 13, 2008

Crisis Deepens: Alex Williams Reports That Having A Job Can Be Tough These Days, Too.

During these troubled times, The Times would like us to take a moment and feel sad for those who will still have a job after Christmas.

The reason? Come on, you out-of-work jerks remember -- that week between Christmas and New Year's is just so dead! Think how thankful America's millions of unemployed Americans must be this Christmas, not to have to endure the nightmare of workplace boredom.

After a brief tip of the hat to those Americans who will actually be jobless and hungry this holiday season, Alex Williams's Sunday Styles piece on the last workweek of the year quickly turns its attention to the poor souls stuck with jobs in extremely quiet offices, or forced to take paid vacation days during that week before returning to their regular paychecks.

Williams begins by addressing the terrible conditions facing those still employed in the advertising and publishing industries, recently ravaged by layoffs. Apparently, the reporter has learned, some employees with jobs are experiencing economic anxieties:

In advertising as well as book and magazine publishing, many employees are customarily given the week off as a genteel perk of the trade, a seasonal variation on the “summer hours” that have them bolting from the office after lunch on Fridays to get a rush on traffic to the Hamptons. These days, however, free time also means more time to dwell on new economic anxieties.

Williams then goes on to report that for some still-employed office workers, the traditional tedium may take on an ominous undertone:

Other people who have been fortunate enough to keep their jobs said they would once again enjoy, or at least endure, the distinctive rituals of this painfully slow week at the office: two-hour lunches, ambitious de-cluttering projects. This year, they said, with the economy spiraling downward, the traditional tedium may take on an ominous undertone. Does that silent telephone represent a brief reprieve from a harried schedule, or a reminder of deals evaporated, of clients and colleagues lost?

Williams next discovers yet another painful recessionary phenomenon that he calls an undercurrent of tension:

Those who make up the skeleton crew tend to come together over their shared misery, said Andrew Palladino, a public relations consultant in Weston, Conn. “There is an undercurrent of tension, but then you bond with the people you actually stay in the office with. People feel sorry for you. ‘Oh, you have to work? So you’re not going to Vail?’”

See, this is what happens when you have a newspaper edited and written by people with jobs.

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