Thursday, January 30, 2014

Paint It Black

A horrible day

Today was a horrible day at Vermont Yankee.

A year from now, the plant will be closed.  Most people who work at the plant will be able to work there for only one more year.  However, some people will (probably) be involved in doing the decommissioning assessment, and they have two years of work ahead of them.

Today, Entergy announced who will have a year, and who will have two years. The people at the plant referred to this as "the list was out."

 I wasn't at the plant of course, but from what I read (mostly on Facebook) this was the worst day ever at the plant.  Gratitude if you were one of the "lucky ones" was offset by misery at the fact that so many of your friends were "unlucky."

What can I say?  I wanted the plant to keep operating. People work together for years to do something good, and in an afternoon, most of the good feelings were destroyed.

Grief.  A horrible day.

A friend screams

I need to tell a story about a layoff.  I was working at a software company, and there was a massive layoff.  I survived it, and thought I was so very lucky.  I guess I was.  A woman I knew --- she screamed when our boss told her.  I heard her.  Everybody heard her. It was horrible, hearing that scream.

Well. The thing about being laid off is that the person generally gets another job.  But where do they get a job? Obviously, they get a job at a company that is hiring.  A company that is growing.  A company that is doing well.

And that is what happened. She got a job within a few months and rose very quickly at that new company. Meanwhile, lucky me, the not-laid-off-person, well...I stayed at the same company and merely hoped to survive the next layoff.

I also, if I am the next person laid off, I am definitely looking my friend up!  She's doing so well! She might be able to help me!

Who is lucky and who isn't?  It isn't clear.  In general, one year or two years from now, there will be no comparable jobs in Windham County.  One or two years from now, people will be deciding to stay or to leave.  I personally think that the people who leave will get good companies that are hiring.

This is a miserable situation and I don't mean to be a Pollyanna. People are being torn right out of their community of work and friendship.

Still, people will go on and have good lives.  This event is a lot closer to a divorce than a death.

Paint It Black

Grief doesn't know, though. Grief feels like grief even if it is "just a divorce."

To me, this very dark song has always been somewhat comforting.  So I share it.  I mean well by sharing it.  I know it won't be everyone's cuppa.


Howard Shaffer said...

Great post.

I've been downsized twice, and quit twice in my career.

All the good people at VY WILL survive and prosper.

Robert said...

Merdith, I have been reading this blog because I am interested in nuclear power but I don't live in your area. I was wondering would it help if people called or wrote to Entergy to try to get them to change their minds about keeping Vermont Yankee operating? Even if it ends up shutting down for a short time (because they have to order new fuel) its better than having it shut down forever. As I read, is sounds like the plant is in good condition, that is, it does not need a lot of parts. Or maybe your politicians can talk to the head of Entergy. Is Vermont that antinuclear? It seems like if they were VY would never have been built in the first place and aren't the public officials supposed to do as the voters tell them? Would it help if people called or wrote their elected officials?

Meredith Angwin said...


Our government administration is very anti-nuclear. The politicians were practically dancing in the streets (briefly) at the announced shut-down. Then they stopped dancing when they began to think of the fiscal consequences.

I have tried and many people have also tried to change the conversation around here. We succeeded in encouraging many people to speak in favor of it, in 2012. Many of these people had been too intimidated by opponents to speak out in earlier years.

I am sorry. I think writing to the politicians will be of little use.

Anonymous said...

Surviving is the first priority, prospering is unlikely. Here is what I have discovered when I found out I was one of the ones on the hit side: when you're in your mid-50s and faced with the prospect of pounding the pavement, no one cares. Oh, sure, there is plenty of lip service with the attendant platitudes, get "retrained", get "educated", learn a trade, become a forklift operator, blah blah blah. Retrained for what, working at the yogurt factory? How are you going to pay for kids' college on that? How much more can you "get educated" when you're already in the Masters/Ph.D. range? Who wants to go to college and grad school just to end up driving a forklift? Where do you turn? The answer is, nowhere. Nuclear jobs are considered undesirable by the community, the businesses, the politicians. They don't want you, and they don't care.

Mary Gerdt said...

So well written, from the heart. Yesterday I was telling someone about when I was laid off 1996 as a hospital RN after 15 years. Just as hurtful today...with the edges worn down. It was CPA's then who professed savings. The survivors were worse off. It all hurts. My heart with these plant workers...loyal, professional.

Anonymous said...

It does hurt to be considered just a disposable entity, nothing more than a piece of meat to be thrown to the wolves. Not the kind of reward you expect for years of loyalty and a lifetime of work. I'm too old to live the lifestyle of a wandering nuclear gypsy. I just wanted to be left alone to do my job and finish my career doing what I am trained and educated to do. That others would deny me that simple wish makes me want to call down the worst curses that God can deliver to them and their progeny. Those who take pleasure in causing others misery deserve the absolute worst punishment imaginable.