A series of unfortunate events

So the Feds cut interest rates again, and what did the market do? Nosedive. And my oh-so-clever acquisition of Nortel at $68 per and then again at $42 leaves me with a stack of paper floating just above $10 a share.

And Business 2.0 is shutting down (“The Voice of the Internet Industry”), Ford is laying people off, and the economy doesn’t seem to be recovering….

Wait a minute. I’m beginning to sound like the back cover of one of my daughter’s books: “Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kind hearted and quick-witted, but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and the one you are holding may be the worst of them all…” The Wide Window, by Lemony Snicket, from A Series of Unfortunate Events.

What to do? What to do? What to do in the face of a slowing economy, a crumbling NASDAQ, and round after round of layoffs?

How about hunkering down, keeping low, covering our collective asses, and hoping that the boss can protect our position through the next round of layoffs? Any good suggestions for riding the storm out quietly, Ken?

In the immortal words of that Canadian irregular/Empire Loyalist when he was told that the American army would surely seize York “I don’t think so, Jack”*

This isn’t World War II, it ‘ain’t the bubonic plague, and in and of itself, a business downturn doesn’t kill anyone. I, for one, am sick and tired of this up and down economic cycle crap, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let it ruin my fun.

So damn the torpedoes, as Admiral Farragut said. Don’t know about you, but I’ve always admired those who can smile in the face of adversity…better yet, I like even better those who can snarl in the face of adversity.

Dennis Leary has a bit on one of his CDs. He says that he imagined John Wayne’s reaction when the Duke was told that he had to have one of his lungs removed the second time he was diagnosed with cancer: “Take ’em both I don’t $#%& need ’em! I’ll grow gills and breathe like a fish!”

No, this is no time to be shy.

It is, however, the time to be the best at what we do, dig in and take fierce pride in our work, and to stand tall. Seems to me that I always sleep better when I’m feeling good about the quality and honesty of the work I’ve done during the day, and that has damn little to do with the condition of the economy at the time.

So if you/me/us/we end up without job in the downturn, and we can honestly say that we’re doing our damndest when they happen to let you/me/we/us go, at least we can say we went down swinging, rather than hunkered in a corner.

This time around, I’m not ducking down, not pulling back, not holding my tongue if I’ve got the right thing to say at the right time.

Hey, it’s an economic downturn, and its hurts, but it ain’t the end of the world. Remember that we’re talented people, in a business with a bright future. Dot-com meltdown or not, the world is still going wildly digital, and we’re the kind of people who will continue to be in the front lines of those big changes.

So maybe I’ll teach and write a little more – maybe you’ll spend more time with your kids and learn a new language, maybe you’ll find time to build that Web site for that small volunteer organization you always wanted to help out with but never had time to.

Go quietly into the good night? No damned way…if it all goes to hell in an economic hand basket, I’ll be snarling on the way out, making a bad trip seem a whole lot more like a good fight than a weak retreat.

* OK, so maybe no one on the Canadian side actually said this (on the other hand, how do we know they didn’t?) but I’d like to think so. Gives me that same kind of feeling I got when they told me that the White House only became known as the White House after it was torched by a horde of invading Canadians, and it needed a new coat of white wash to hide the burn marks.

Hanley is an IS professional in Calgary. He can be reached at [email protected].

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