Black Monday - Monday January 8 2001    

I look out the office window and see that the day, thinly shrouded as it is by fog, looks exactly the same as it did on Friday afternoon. "Wait," a little voice inside me asks, "did the weekend even happen?" I'm set adrift in an endless sea of indistinguishable days and nights.

Later in the day it started raining, one of those rains where you can just tell it's going to last for a good many hours. I put off my lunch until the mid-afternoon and then decided, fuck it, I needed to eat, so I set off on foot through the remaining drizzle.
    It's always a bad idea to ride a bike with full knobby tires and no fenders on a rainy day. Don't you just love the fact that that's the only kind of bike you can get these days?

There are certain advantages to walking around on the rare days in Santa Monica when it's not sunny and beautiful. You can count on one thing on such days: you are the only one to be found enjoying the outdoors. Everyone else is all tucked away in their offices or their SUVs. They might not admit it, but to people in Southern California, rain is some kind of natural disaster. There's little enough reason to walk around on a sunny beautiful day, so why in God's name do it on a rainy one? The MGM company park was deserted as I came back through it munching on my lunch of Popeye's Fried Chicken (no head, thank you very much!). Back when I lived in Virginia, some of my fondest, most indelible memories were of me walking around outside on a rainy day. It was good to get a chance to walk on wet streets here in the land of health-conscious Mercedes drivers. This is not to say I wasn't vaguely miserable the whole time. But my misery had more to do with the circumstances of my life than with the weather. That's another thing about people in Southern California, they know they can never effectively use the weather as an excuse for any of their problems.
I came back to my workstation and learned that a bunch of people, many of them developers, had been laid off today. This included most of the marketing and promotions code monkeys, the poor kids with junior development skills who make the microsites. The hottest chick in that group was the sole developer retained, though her boyfriend certainly wasn't spared the ax's sting. I think it says something about the priorities of the company that they fired a bunch of low-salary developers in a department where they simultaneously retained a gaggle of highly-paid producers, people with low-stress "hereditary jobs" based on their seniority in various acquired companies. I feel sorry for that hot developer chick (and make no mistake about it, I'd do her in a heartbeat); now she has four different producers pushing work on her.
Somewhat amusingly, the mechanical (dare I say German?) precision of the layoff was hampered somewhat by all sorts of network trouble and yet another productivity-destroying wave of the dreaded creative.exe virus (don't click on that). This virus manifests with an email asking you to check out a "real cool Shockwave Flash animation" (the archaic nature of that terminology ought to tip you off immediately). Then, when you decide you actually are an idiot and you click on the handy link because you really want to see some serious Shockwave, your entire address book is spammed with that same email, all of it seemingly coming from you. Oh the mortification! And then, if it's Black Monday like it was today, perhaps Steve, the dude from HR, shows up at your desk and you're canned as well! The odd thing about Steve is that he's sort of like both a midwife and an executioner. He's the first one you see when you're hired and the last one to see when you're fired, and his face is always equally-grim. He's like the farm kid cautioned not to name and play with all the cute little lambs of springtime.

Most of the UK team returned today from their motherland, and after work I found myself cycling home alongside Frank the Producer, so I invited him in for a nip of brandy. We'd been discussing the absurdities of today's wave of layoffs, which of course hadn't impacted anyone in the UK team at all.
Ah, living the dotcom life, nothing quite like it.

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