The laid-off bankers

10 a.m. They still feel the hurt. They have been let go, moved aside, pushed out, dumped, sent off and don’t smile much. But they don’t grump either. They hold their words the way they held onto their careers – tightly. They are old-timers and newcomers with 10 years at the place that sent them packing with a few weeks severance and not much more.

One big place ate a smaller one.

The old-timers are grey-haired and quiet with wrinkled skin, tired eyes, and no mention, no discussion, no looking back at how 25, 30, 38 years went by. Not here. Not today. They are trying to turn their heads forward though they must be constantly going in the other direction.

They were replaced, they say, by younger people or people who said they had bigger ideas who did not appreciate what they did when their company was smaller. They don’t like these people who came in with the new company from all over the country. They say they are too brash, too ambitious, too different from those who worked besides them before. And none of them say they want to go to work again for a big company or corporate America. Not these bankers swept aside in waves reaching deeper and farther today.

Sitting at the table at the outplacement company meeting here in Chicago, sitting with pads and paper and blank faces, sitting waiting to learn all about starting new careers as entrepreneurs, sitting and listen but not talking much, there’s not much passion in them about the future. Only their passion about what they left behind and how they left. And their fears of how they will get by and whether they will get by at all.

I am struck. I’ve heard this so often from blue-collar workers grousing angrily at a bar down from the factory at a picnic or sadly reminiscing at a union hall made empty by layoffs. But it’s a loss like any another. Isn’t it? Yet it’s a wave of losses like never before in my life. I wonder where and how they’ll wind up.

So do they, I bet.

But they don’t say much.

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