My home on the web - featuring my real-life persona!

Feeling the economy

Today is one of those days, where it is uncomfortable to be an in-house translator.

From friends I have heard, that they have been approached by clients who asked them to lower (or not raise) prices because of the bad economy. I am pretty sure a lot of people just do that to increase revenue, but it is a simple fact that US companies are struggling - a lot. Here in Michigan, there are a lot of companies in the news. Of course there is the automotive industry - we all know how they are doing, but there are also a lot of small and midsized companies who are struggling. I am not a business major, and generally business/finance bores me - unfortunately, this time it affects me.

My company has announced lay-offs today - no secret, the press release is on our web site. It was actually there before they even told us about it. They had an immediate meeting at 8.30am - tough noogies for me since I usually start at 9am because I am not a morning person. Anyway, I am part of Engineering and we had a department meeting afterward, where we were told that Engineering/R&D is not affected. While it was nice to hear that, it is still unsettling. It don’t like the feeling of not being on control of my fate. There are so many more things hanging on this than just my income. We would lose health insurance - right now, my company covers the both of us. My 401k would stop - and since I only started to work here 10 years ago, I don’t have a lot of retirement savings to show for. I would have to pay back the tuition reimbursement for the last 12 months which would probably eat up any possible severance package so there goes that.

I like X-Rite. Working here is so tightly connected to living in the US, since I came here in February 1999, and started to work in June the same year. I didn’t get here on a work visa - they actually searched for a German translator right after I arrived. Big coincidence! I basically had the job before I even had a work permit but having a job offer helped to speed up the process at the INS a lot. For me, living in the US means working at X-Rite.

I also think we have great products. I work with them when I translate the software or hardware and it really confuses me why we are not doing better. I don’t know if it is our products or business and financial decisions, and I would love to know. But then, hopefully there are smarter (or better, more business-savvy) people solving this issue.

I know that a lot of freelancers deal with that uncertainty every day even if they have a little cushion to rest on - but to be honest, that is one of the reasons why I prefer employment. I am just a little chicken.

Now, the news are on to us, starting with the the local NBC station WoodTV and our local paper the Grand Rapids Press - actually, my “Google Alert” for X-Rite was longer than I have ever seen it before. I remember, after the last lay-offs in April, I left the building only to see the news crew outside. Let’s see if that happens again - in about an hour. I am almost sick to my stomach.

Oh well, before I start to sound like a teenager who got dumped, I better sign off. Thanks for listening!