My former boss was very ill last spring. It was a terrible tale. He went in for what promised to be a "minor" procedure for prostate surgery (that is, "minor" for the urologist who performed it, but naturally, scary for the patient). The actual procedure was fine -- he's blissfully cancer free. But the anesthesiologist screwed up royally, leaving my boss literally fighting for his life. He missed weeks and weeks of work, and then when he was ready to return to the office, he could only go in three days a week. He really wasn't feeling better and able to contribute fully until after the 4th of July.
So in all, he was weak and unable to work full-time from mid-April until early July.
Seems his boss decided that, now that times are tough and they have to cut payroll, they can get along without him. After all, they got along without him through spring and into summer.
So now here he is -- a cancer survivor in his mid-50s, out of work at the holidays.
My heart breaks for him.
I have friends who struggle with financial issues, family issues, romance issues, employment issues ... and while I love these people and try to share their burdens, I can objectively point to a moment where they "shoulda/woulda/coulda" made different choices that might have mitigated their current unhappy situations. (I don't say this -- most of the time -- but I can see it all the same.)
My former boss' situation here is different. His doctor caught his cancer early and referred him to a urologist who operates in a world-class Chicago hospital. And look what happened.
The company he worked for is a small not-for-profit, so I understand why they have to make cuts in this economy. The market fluctuations are no more his fault than the cancer was. Yet now he spends his days at home, working the phone and the internet, trying to land another job at a bad time in a difficult economy.
I've sent him a couple cards (snail mail and email) and will suggest a time we can meet for drinks this coming week. I don't want him to feel that I've abandoned him, just because he's a "loser." (That is how he's feeling, like a "loser.") It's all I can do, really, because as I've mentioned here before, my job is none too secure right now. Still, while I can't afford to help him financially (and he hasn't asked), I can listen to him vent and be loyal. And remind him of the bright side ...
1) His wife is employed (though she's a freelancer so they relied on his insurance).
2) His wife is smart and loves him very much.
3) His daughter is done with college.
4) His home is paid for.
5) He is cancer free.