It's been six weeks since I last went to work at the Pentagon. I was let go as of January 1st, and even though the economy is pretty much collapsing around us, I was confident I'd find a job quickly.
I was laid-off because I did not have a security clearance. The company I worked for knew I didn't have one, knew I needed one, but never put me through for one. Thanks? Any old citizen can not get a clearance; you need to be sponsored by an employer or Government agency. As of January 1, the agency I supported enacted a rule stating that everybody on the computer network needed a clearance, whether the employee had access to secure information or not. So, I was given my walking papers.
It's weird leaving a job. For however brief a time it was, a place of employment becomes that Second Place - it's not home, but you sure spend a lot of time there. You put up decorations in your cube. Carve out a little spot in the fridge for your lunch. Stash some snacks in your drawers. Constantly bang your knees against a horribly-placed keyboard tray.
In the case of my office at the Pentagon, I guess it's because I miss the people. I was very blessed to have met some great folks in my nearly 4 years of contract work. And the people I worked with at the Reservation even more so. A good mix of eager young guys, fresh from school and the retail world, and world-wearied gents with a good eye for detail and memories full of good tales.
And then, poof, it's gone.
I got my notice of being laid-off on December 22, 3 days before Christmas and during my vacation to Florida. Now, the employer KNEW about this change in requirements for the network for at least 5 months, but neglected to tell anybody about it. And when do they decide to notify anybody? Oh, I don't know - 6pm during a week when half the building is on vacation.
Let me give any employers a couple words of advice. First off - did you know it's a violation in many states to lay somebody off over the phone? Such procedures need to be done either in person or in writing. That was told to me by somebody who does HR for a world-wide management firm. Hmmm. Interesting. I did not know that. I got a phone call. Second - if you need to lay somebody off over the phone, don't let some dingbat Valley-Girl wannabe bimbo who only got her job because she's got two boobs and half as many brain cells be your Turk. "Like, I guess, you could like, um, consider this to be like your two week notice!" is not a good phrase to hear, especially when said by a giggling young woman who makes the wasted-sperm retards with pretty teeth and ugly acting on MTV's "The Hills" look positively Mensa-like in comparison. When it comes time to give separation, you need somebody to deliver the news who's more Frasier Crane than Brendon Frasier.
I applied for unemployment assistance from Virginia as soon as I was able to do so legally, back in January. Contrary to popular belief, you do not apply for unemployment in the state you live in, but the state you worked in. As I physically worked in the Pentagon, and, the last time I checked, the Pentagon was in Virginia, hence, I applied for assistance from the Commonwealth.
One small problem - my erstwhile employer, Chronos Systems, despite having a scores of employees based in the Pentagon, does not pay Virginia Unemployment Tax.
Now, as I'm trying to get my security clearance, I'm trying to be as legal and forthright as possible on all my doings. To that end, I followed the letter of the law, and applied for benefits in the state I worked, Virginia. However, even the oh-so-qualified administrative and management staff at Chronos fell into the misconception that I should have applied for Maryland benefits...which, ironically enough, the State of Maryland said "You worked in Virginia, go to them."
Virginia, to its end, has been attempting to get me some money before they investigate Chronos and further delay my benefits. They have applied for a Multi-Jurisdiction Claim, where MD, VA and DC pool together funds for those employees who work in multiple locations across the region. Hopefully that will free up some funding, and I'll get some cash flow coming in again.
As it is now, I'm cashing in an old money market account back from Iowa, which should give me another two months to live on. Hopefully I'll get those funds in the next week or two.
Otherwise, let me simply say this - I am not a sentimental cat. I am fully aware of the business of being in business. Being laid-off is about dollars, not personality. And sometimes, those cuts need to be made at bad times. However, I find it amazing that a Government contractor can openly violate basic employment law; can be completely clueless in the procedure for obtaining a security clearance; would blatantly lie to Federal Government personnel about staff levels and competencies; and would also lie to State Government personnel trying to get a laid-off employee even a base level of economic safety.
Where does this leave me? Out of work and with ZERO income.
Anybody got a job for me? I work cheap.