Dec. 24, 2001 -- They are young, jobless, and ready to party.
Once a month, unemployed refugees from the dot-com revolution gather in bars
around the country for the latest innovation of the newly downtrodden Internet
generation -- the pink-slip party.
Your best-selling book The Year of Magical Thinking chronicles your grief
following the loss of your husband, John. What surprised you most about
I did not expect the degree of derangement-both physiological and mental. An
example of the latter: Two weeks after John died, when I filled out a hospital
form for the autopsy report, I gave not my own address but that of an apartment
in which we had lived for the first four or five months of our marriage, in
Partiers are given glow-in-the-dark, color-coded wristbands at
the door - pink if you are jobless, green if you're looking to hire, and blue
if you are neither. They drink Bud Lights and tequilas as they network and
study the message board filled with resumes and job postings. They listen to
music selected as a soundtrack to the dot-com demise. Greatest hits include
"It's the End of the World as We Know It," by REM, and Queen's
"Another One Bites the Dust." Some parties even include dot-comedy to
help the unemployed techies laugh at their troubles.
Laid off, downsized, or simply fired, many erstwhile employees
of failed or foundering Internet start-ups appear to be handling the emotional
pitfalls of joblessness pretty well. Just two years ago, the mostly twenty- and
thirtysomethings were poised to take over the world, or at least amass enough
wealth to buy much of it. But that was a different millennium.
Now that the dot-com bubble has exploded in their faces, many
are dealing for the first time with the psychological strains that accompany
job loss. And they seem to be coping in uniquely public ways. In addition to
the pink-slip parties, job-loss support groups and group therapy sessions are
common. In San Francisco, where a large portion of the population works in the
tech sector, laid-off techies can even go to camp. Recession Camp offers
regular outings like golf and movies. Campers also volunteer time to area
Allison Hemming, who organized the first pink slip gatherings
in New York City in July of 2000, says the mood is more subdued and less
defiant these days than when the parties began.
"A year and a half later, people are more humble," she
says. "But they are not embarrassed that they were laid off. That is what
the parties are all about. I have talked to people in their 40s and 50s who are
veterans of corporate layoffs and they say, 'Where was this in the late '80s
and early '90s?' Back then they just went home and felt lousy."