graduated from CMU in 1997. It was a small operation especially compared to the organizationsand companies that I would work for later on, but in many ways it was where I really was able todig into the web development profession (back when it was still barely a profession at all). It waswhere my coding and graphic design skills were put to the test. I also got into the process of customer service when I began meeting with new clients who wanted to hire us to develop their websites for them.We heard the first mumblings about a shutdown when my manager pulled us all in his office andtold us that any rumors about a merger were untrue. Although I didn’t say anything, my thoughtswere, “what rumors?” because I truly hadn’t heard anything at all.The next clue came during the HomeTown Newspaper banquet when we weren’t included inany of the speeches that were given about the company’s future. Our sister company, whichwas based in the Detroit area, was mentioned, but HomeTown Online was completelyoverlooked. I also remember that my manager was given a cold shoulder by members of themanagement team.So, it was during this same banquet that everyone was given these black T-Shirts withlightbulbs on them, and a slogan underneath which says “My Future is so bright, I need to wear shades.” A few months later, we were all pulled into the conference room and told that thecompany was being dissolved, its subscribers were going to be given to our sister ISP inLivonia, and that we were losing our jobs. None of us had been given any warning until thatpoint. Not even our manager knew that this was going to happen.I told Kayla that the shirt seemed pretty ironic, since it seemed to suggest I had a long future atHomeTown Newspapers/HomeTown Online, but as it turns out I really didn’t. Of course, I’velearned since 1999 when I was being let go from my first job out of college that there really isn’tsuch a thing as job security, not even if you wear a shirt that proclaims it.
The announcement that HomeTown Online was being shut down impacted me in more waysthan one. Sure, I’d be looking for a new job after the next three months (they were keeping uson to help with the shutdown and transfer of the subscribers over to our sister ISP), but whatwas almost worse was that my wife had just resigned from her position with the MarletteElementary School, where she had been teaching fifth grade during the last year. Our plan hadbeen for get married and then move to somewhere in Livingston County where I would continueworking for HomeTown Online, and Theresa would get a teaching job. So, now we were bothgoing to be unemployed, and there was no way to know where we would end up living.My downsizing at HomeTown Newspapers reshaped the direction of our life together as acouple. Had we known I wouldn’t be at HomeTown Online at the start of the next school year,I’m sure that we would have decided to live in Marlette so that Theresa could keep a teaching job, and I would have gotten a job at one of the nearby firstname.lastname@example.org| Jon +|