Laid off? The one thing you absolutely need to do if you’re rich or stupid

I like people who have no understanding of the average Joe, but preach to him anyway. They’re cute and their naivety is endearing in a certain way. I’m talking about you, Jason Kester.

Get laid off from your job, go take a six- to nine-month vacation. It’s the best time in the world to do so!

You have a pile of saving [sic] and a severance package.

Savings, maybe, though that’s not a given. Severance package, though? How many jobs even offer those anymore? Mine sure doesn’t (at least not below the Director level, which is where the majority of IT folks are), and I don’t work in a small place. Don’t preach to a group if you don’t even know anything about them.

I’m not going to bash the rationale behind this thought – I can really understand the suggestion for people who have the means to take this advice. What I just don’t get is Jason’s blanket advice that says basically nobody has an excuse of any kind not to do this:

But I don’t have any money saved…

You can’t possibly be serious. Are you saying that you’ve been working in IT for all these years and haven’t put away a lousy ten grand??? Shame on you. Get a book on life skills and open a bank account fer cryin’ out loud.

Wha…? Since when have all IT people been paid so well that $10k is (a) pocket change, and (b) something to throw away when times are hard? Hell, the most I’ve ever saved is $8k and that was to buy a house. And my salary isn’t even on the low end of the spectrum! Some people just live paycheck-to-paycheck by necessity, and condemning them for it is not only extremely snobby, but just proof you live in a bubble far from the real world. In San Fransisco, for instance, the average pay for a software engineer means barely scraping by or living an hour’s drive away. Sometimes both.

At both of my professional jobs, there have been software engineers paid low enough that two salaries are required if the people want to even own a shitty home, much less living nicely. Jason, you’re an ass.

But I’m married with a family and a house…

Ok, you win. You’re screwed, but that’s the life you chose for yourself so you’re going to have to live it. It’s worth noting, however, that most Europeans wouldn’t consider that a reason not to travel. Right this second, there is a German couple pushing a stroller down a remote beach in Thailand, and they’re not going home for another month. What’s your excuse again?

Wait, so we’re screwed if we chose to have a family? A house? What if we’re happy with this choice? Are we just too ignorant to see the error of our ways or something? I honestly don’t get what you are saying here. But again this speaks to ignorance on Jason’s part – he has no concept of giving up something you want to have something else you want (the house – I’m assuming if I say I’m happy to be married and have kids he’ll just say I’m lying to myself, but having a house is a tangible asset – even idiot snobs can understand that). He also has no concept of how expensive it is to take the whole family to Thailand for us IT people paid a “normal” salary. He also doesn’t understand that sometimes kids are in school or that the spouse of the laid-off IT person has their own job.

But the most amazing piece: he doesn’t understand that some of us who actually do have the severance, the extra $10k, and everything else may not want to take the time off. Maybe it took me years to save $10k, and I don’t want to blow it on a trip when I could increase that savings instead. Maybe I am hoping to get a million in the bank before I retire, and every year I work hard gets me 5% closer to that goal, whereas just disappearing drops me by 5% instead. Maybe I want to really enjoy my 40s or 50s instead of waste my disposable income on a one-time trip that will screw up other goals in my life.

Then again, maybe Jason is just a stuck-up, ignorant white guy who simply hasn’t got a clue.

9 Replies to “Laid off? The one thing you absolutely need to do if you’re rich or stupid”

  1. Well said,

    Your timing is right fo me. I just got laid of and asked to leave the premisses without pay. No severance because the company refuses to do so in an effort to tie me up in their business during the lay-off period. I other words they although they say that I don’t have to work, they are not going to pay me until the 3 month period has lapsed. Of course my family suffers. I will not be taking any trips. And I still have bills to pay! So what happens after you live off of your savings?

    I think that companies are going to drive IT personel into joining unions. Unions will become stronger because of the amount of employment mistreatment and uncertainty that is become common in the IT world.

    What we need now is a Jimmy Hoffa figure ;)

  2. That German couple walking in Thailand…

    They’re probably on “holiday”, which is usually 30 days of paid vacation. Americans only get 2 weeks.

    What do you choose: enjoy life or work hard, accumulate stuff and die pennyless ?

  3. I disagree.

    You make some valid points about savings and marriage but i think the point that you missed in his article is that he was talking about freelance workers. His point being that if you can win a contract, you can negotiate cheaper rates should you be living in a relatively low cost country.

    I know because I did this for about 3 years. Working via the Internet and living in cheap accommodation whilst travelling the world.

    He may have come across as a stuck-up, ignorant white guy who simply hasn’t got a clue, but he is talking about a reality that actually exists for some us. I am neither rich nor have any savings but I have worked independently as a freelance developer for the past 17 years, since I was 20 years old.

    I think I detect a hint of jealousy and I would take a wild guess that you haven’t worked as a freelancer or seen much of this world, otherwise you would have understood his reasoning.

    By the way, I do not know Jason nor have had any contact with him.

  4. You’re the one without a clue, sir. Jason’s essay made a great point about striking a balance with your worklife and leaving room for personnal enrichment.

    Besides, you hardly even bothered to read it before refuting it. On the “family” issue, he mentions the german couple with a stroller on a Thailand beach.

    Honestly, you shouldn’t broadcast your revulsion for flight, foreign or freedom. You want to live your life in your basement getting fat? Do so. But don’t put it down to being a “regular Joe”.

  5. What is obnoxious is his suggestion that being married with a family should be considered anything other than the norm. Almost none of us would be here now if our parents and grandparents hadn’t been married with families. And if you have a family, you’ve got to have someplace to live. Long term, renting isn’t cheaper.

    Yeah, Europeans travel. Their governments require employers to provide six weeks of paid vacations each year. Their tax rates are such that even if they worked the extra six weeks, the government would take most of the extra income in taxes. And they don’t need to save for requirement because the government has promised to take care of them in retirement. And they cannot have more than one or at most two kids to support because gasoline taxes make anything but a tiny car impossible to fuel (and if you take public transportation then more kids means more fares to pay). When the lack of reproduction leaves the government unable to pay the pensions they promised, they’ll provide euthenasia at the first serious old-age illness.

  6. I agree. this rant was totally stupid. Jason gave EXCELLENT advice and anyone who gets laid off SHOULD do exactly that. I have travelled with almost no money many times before and had the time of my life. As proof that you can ‘get back in the game’ I didn’t do any programming work from the time I left school 5 years ago. Today, I might not be as up to speed as where I would have been if I had kept programming instead of travelling but I am definitely not ‘wet behind the ears’ either. Why, another year here in Babylon and it’ll be the software engineer’s delight.

  7. Yes, I did miss the point in his article about freelance workers. This may be because he doesn’t really say anything about it. The blog may be about freelancing in general, but he didn’t gear the entry toward freelancers. By nature, freelancers don’t have to worry about being laid off as much as the rest of us, so I’m taking this entry to be aimed at IT in general. If I can’t take it at face value, I’m not going to worry about “misinterpreting” his subtle intentions.

    I am jealous of anybody who considers $10,000 to be “lousy.” I would never deny that. But when that person shoves it in his readers’ faces, it’s arrogant and snobby.

    René Ghosh, I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic or what – I directly responded to his bit about the families. Most of us in a family situation live paycheck-to-paycheck could not afford to take 6-9 months off, much less take kids out of school. Some can, but those aren’t typical cases. This has nothing to do with any revulsion on my part other than my belief that rich assholes should keep their snobbery to themselves.

    Jason gave EXCELLENT advice and anyone who gets laid off SHOULD do exactly that.

    Hehe, now I know this one’s just a joke. Living in a world of absolutes is fun, though.

    Note that I have nothing against travel or people who can afford to do so. A good friend of mine just up and quit his job and isn’t planning on working again for a long while – and is in Europe somewhere right now. Fucking awesome for him!

    But that’s him, not me. I couldn’t afford it, and nobody but me can say I could without showing a lack of ignorance I cannot fathom. I manage money incredibly well, but when I have about $100 of disposable income each month, and I’m happy with my expenses, I just don’t see the problem.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.