Dennis Sanders, Sacrificial Lamb

So, a few days before Christmas, I found out that my position was eliminated due to budget cuts.

Needless to say, I was devastated…and I still am a few weeks later.  The sad thing is that this isn’t the first time that this has happened to me.  I’ve received layoff notices more than once. It’s also part and parcel of my long work history, one where work and I don’t seem to get along.

It’s not that I don’t want to work: quite the opposite, I love to work, I love being industrious.  But in the 25 or so years in the workforce, it has always been a struggle to find employment and a struggle at times to maintain a job.

Part of my problem is being on the autistic spectrum.  My communication difficulties make it hard for potential employers to connect with me.  A lot of job-hunting is people-oriented and I have a time figuring out how to best present myself to a potential employer.  How I present myself can probably give off the message to people that I don’t care which is the total opposite of what I mean.

But the other part of the problem is that I seem to always be “layoff bait.”  In several instances, when an organization is facing some kind of financial problem and they need to cut staff, I seem to always been at the top of the list.

I wish I knew why.  Was I not a good enough worker?  Was I not friendly enough?  Why didn’t the other guy that sits around all day not lose his job?  It feels as though there is an invisible sign that says, “please cut my job when the finances get to dicey.”

What this all means for me is going back to square one and starting over again.  When I was 25 or 35 I could do that, but at 45 I should be much farther along.

I’m also cruelly reminded that I can’t write my own ticket.  I’m not so desirable that I get to keep my position and I’m not so desirable that other organizations want me.

I understand that budgets need to be balanced.  But I wish it wasn’t me that always has to be the sacrificial lamb, the “surplus man” that is considered a luxury in leaner times.  I’d like to not be the guy that people feel sorry for.  I’d like to not have to rely on others, hoping they might pass my resume along to others.  I’d like to feel that my job is vital enough to the organization that people don’t think my work can be easily done by others. I’d like to be part of the solution when organizations have to economize instead of just being asked to clean out my desk.

So, I look for another job with some trepidation.  Will this new job just be like the last one, a position that can go away at any moment?  Will I be viewed as an important and vital part of the team?

I’m thankful for the jobs that I have had in that they have given me rich experiences and skills.  But I’d like to not end up on the altar of balanced budgets.

Note: I still have my part-time work as pastor, so it isn’t a total loss.

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