Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I am not my job

Date: June 10 and 11
Mileage: 12.1 and 42.7
June mileage: 343.4
Temperature: 51 and 55

It's been a rough couple of months at my place of employment. And, like the stock market and oil speculation, things just keep getting bleaker. Today the Powers That Be pulled us all into the conference room. Being gathered as a group is never a good thing these days, and everyone in the room sat in shadowed silence, braced for bad news.

The latest cut is our retirement benefits. Indefinitely. There was wide-eyed shock before the protests began. "Human capital is all you have." "We are this industry." "Our attrition rate is at an all-time high right now. Those of us who remain are already weighted beyond capacity and hanging on by threads. We live in one of the highest cost-of-living cities in the U.S., and now you're giving us one less reason to stay?"

The PTB just leaned back in his chair, himself just a messenger of the Corporate Overlords. He nodded in empathy and didn't really have to say it. The economy is tanking. Our industry is dying. What are you going to do?

I don't know. I guess I'll just keep riding my bike.

26 comments:

  1. Hey that really sucks! Your blog is great so keep on riding!

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  2. That blows, big time Jill. Keep riding hun.

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  3. Yes that sucks! If they can take the retirement money already saved, is there any way you can move it out to a safe place? Think about it.

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  4. Wow Jill! That is really a bummer. Hopefully, the money you've already placed into your retirement account is OK. It should be, but you may want to look at some other options.

    Have you considered freelancing? With your writing and photography skills you could certainly make a go of it.

    Get going on that book :)

    Nigity - "Always keep a smile in your heart."

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  5. Keep pedaling would be the best answer.

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  6. Jill: sorry to hear that! You might want to open up your own Roth IRA. More and more people are having to go it on their own now. I agree, you could definitely consider free lance writing. Maybe there are a number of mags you could apply to. Hang in there!

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  7. BuckyDent6:17 AM

    Newspapering is a dead end career track. You must have an exit strategy you can implement at YOUR discretion, not when the corporate advertising brokers decide you're no longer needed. I was a newspaper man once myself, and it is painful to recall that era of my life. A smart, talented young woman like you has unlimited upside ...don't squander your precious time on the Titanic of media.

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  8. Personally I love newspapers and I hope they never fade away as the thought of reading my news on a laptop while perched upon the crapper is not at all alluring. I am a faithful subscriber to my local rag and will always be.

    That being said - you are a survivor and you are young and full of energy - I feel no matter what life throws at you, you will overcome it in the steady and unwavering manor that you address every challenge. Everything happens for a reason.

    I will gladly sign up for the presell list on any type of literature you may produce - I already wish I had a copy of the Dr. Seuss tribute.

    Ride on.

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  9. Aaron8:19 AM

    It could be worse. Both my wife and I lost our jobs back in January due to the downturn in the forest industry (we are in north-central BC). Ironically, our former employer is in the commercial paper business, and our local mill produced newsprint. Our town is experiencing at least 80% unemployment at this time.
    We ride our bikes daily. They have become more than recreation machines. We hook up the BOB and do our grocery shopping. The truck sits in the driveway, which is a good thing for all of us. There is no better release than physical excercise, so keep em' spinning. I would also suggest being involved in trail stewardship activities. It's hard work, but very rewarding. You might even get to build some new trail to call your own.
    In the end, the corporate world is absolutely ruthless, and unless you've got a lot of money and can join em', there's no beating them at their game. Investors will pull their money from your operation in a flash, putting you out of work. Then they'll invest in financials and end up owning your home too. So, we have to start our own game, make our own rules, and be unconventional about it. It looks like you're well on your way already Jill. If riding 1000 miles a month is not unconventional, I don't know what is. Keep up the blogging, we love it.

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  10. Anonymous8:19 AM

    How do you get a Liberal Arts major off your front porch ?......pay them for the pizza !.

    Maybe you could get a job in advertising with an outdoor oriented, or environmentally conscious business up there ?.

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  11. Anonymous9:09 AM

    You need to get out and create your own income. Take what you love and turn it into your job and do it for a living. What could be better! Write for outdoor magazines, start your own guide company, get on the lecture circuit.

    As with your Feb adventure when you were not dependent on anyone but yourself, why be dependent on others for your income. I haven't since 1980.

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  12. P Nome9:15 AM

    This happened to us in healthcare here in rural Ak as well. A lot of folks went elsewhere. There is tremendous demand for a reliable workforce in Ak so they simply went where they were wanted. Try www.nomenugget.net, they are a good group and may have something...

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  13. The economy is tanking.

    Unfortunately, we haven't seen the worse to come.

    Bummer about your benefits, but it's typical today.

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  14. hang in there, at least we have those views. Keep riding, dreaming, living. The nice thing about AK, if you want it...there's always work :)

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  15. I’m a journalist as well, and I’m in the same boat. We’ve already gouged our printing frequency, and now imminent staff cuts are going down next week. We’ve transferred a lot of our content to our Web site, but electronic media are generally free, so we’re really just breaking even.

    After I moved on from writing for a mountain bike magazine a few years ago out of college, I continued to freelance for some cycling pubs since it's fun to get paid for something I enjoy. But if I'm done here next week, I don't know if it will be enough to sustain me...so tensions rise.

    On the bright side, writers will always be needed. They’re always valuable. It’s just that sometimes our value is only appreciated if we’re in the right place. You as a writer will always be able to flourish (you’re good), however if you’re writing for a publication where you’re not appreciated (your benefits/pay are chipped away), you may want to reevaluate what and for whom you’re writing.

    I agree with previous comments suggesting you freelance, write for outdoor publications, write a book, incorporate more of the passionate side of your life into your career. But no matter what, you’ll be alright. You have your bike and the heart of an explorer.

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  16. YIKES. I have a lot of friends who work in the newspaper biz, and there have been many periods of frustration and fear. I can only hope that your paper figures out a way to get on a new track and can reward you and the other employees as you should be rewarded.

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  17. Maybe Outside magazine could use you, REI, or any number of other publications, or their online equivalents. Advertising might be a good place too.
    mdoncall.blogspot.com

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  18. Sorry to hear about this bad news, but what are these "Retirement benefits" you write of?

    Anyway, the stock market and American currency is in permanent decline now. Dollar cost averaging is history.

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  19. No shuffleboard in your future!

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  20. Why not publish a book based on your blog entries? I'm a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and I can safely say that you write much better than most of the people I graduated with--simply because you write every day. If you worked with a good editor, I think you could turn this blog into a book, no trouble. Its focus would be about a young woman who moved to Alaska and successfully competed in one of the toughest outdoor events, yadayaya. You'd have a big audience for that material.

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  21. As many have said, your perspective has been a refreshing read. I would love to read a compilation of your adventures in book format.

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  22. As a fellow member of the journalism profession, I certainly understand your frustration. The economy in Southwestern Illinois hasn't tanked as much as other parts of the country -- yet -- so haven't had major layoffs or benefit cuts, but we are extremely slow in filling vacancies, if we do so at all.

    I'm not as fatalistic as some about the future of our industry, but we are in a painful transition and will remain in one until we figure out how to make enough money online to pay reporting and advertising staffs.

    Having said that, it's wise to keep your options wide open. Good luck with whatever direction you go!

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  23. niether am I.

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  24. The current state of employer/employee relations just keeps getting better, don't it. I have not had so much as a cost of living increase in 7 years, pay has been decreasing yearly, and now our 401k benefits are frozen due to possible change of ownership. I'm not sure you can take anything that you've worked for for granted anymore. The gap between the have's and have nots is growing daily. But we'll always have our bikes, so we can at least enjoy some parts of our day.

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  25. Hang in there Jill. It's happening everywhere. When people start asking 'Where is it made?' instead of 'How much is it?' things will come back.
    I'm leaving for toronto to make my ride for cancer on the bike named in your honour, my wife had something special done as a surprise when I picked up 'Jill' after her tune-up. Check it out at http://planeofthought.blogspot.com/

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