It’s spring break at Harvard so Alix and I decided to come back home to Charlotte for the week. It turned out to be remarkable timing. We arrived in town the same day our newspaper laid off another large chunk of the staff — including many of our friends. One of our photogs took a pretty amazing photo of the announcement. I know every single person in that photo. I’ve seen that body language before. That’s a funeral.
Alix and I are safe for now. Whatever “safe” means these days.
We had lunch today with a group of co-workers, all of whom (for now) have survived. We just happened to end up next to a table of Observer people from outside the newsroom. Two of them lost their jobs yesterday. One told me she’s more worried about the people she’s leaving behind.
None of this is unique to us, of course — the same thing is going on all the way up and down the line, to white-collar workers and blue-collar workers and no-collar workers. We are catching it hard for many reasons, one of them being that the people who used to advertise in our paper can’t afford to anymore.
I think what we do is important — if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have done it for these last 25 years — but we don’t deserve a job any more than a teacher or a textile worker. Everybody who puts in an honest day’s work contributes to the world. And the market works its will on us the same as it does everybody else.
Newspaper people get by on gallows humor — it’s how we cope with having to cover murders and missing children and the mamas of sons who don’t come back from the war. So at lunch we mourned the people who lost their jobs and we worried about our own futures but mostly we laughed at it all the best we could. Is the glass half full or half empty? All I know is, somebody peed in the glass.
We’ll be back for good in June. I don’t know what it’s going to be like, and nobody else does either. We just have to enjoy the moments we get, make the most of the rest, and prepare ourselves for whatever happens next. Somebody peed in the glass.