I’ve been listening to Wesley Willis this evening, and when the song “The Vultures Ate My Dead Ass Up” came on, I immediately thought about the liquidation of Borders. Borders is a carcass, and the folks shopping in the stores (and the liquidators and the consultants and the lawyers and all the other scumbags who make out like bandits while the brand I love goes down in flames) are the vultures picking everything they can off the bones of Borders. In one of our meetings pre-liquidations when we were still moving forward with the business (so this was probably March and April), our CEO said something along the lines of the only people who make money on a liquidation are lawyers and consultants. He was right for the most part. Anyways, I’m starting to go off the rails a bit. Time to get back on. So, Wesley Willis made me think of the liquidation which made me think about my experiences.
There are several blogs and posts and Facebook posts out there highlighting the store experience through this whole thing, but no one has really spoken out about the home office experience. In a word or two, the experience was absolutely soul-sucking. While I was honored to be chosen as part of the team to help wind down the merch operations for Borders, I can’t deny each day I went in after the major layoff of July 29th was a complete blow to my psyche and spirit. After I got the allocations done for the day, we were given other “wind down” projects, which essentially were tasks to pack up and close up shop on a 40-year-old franchise that I cared for dearly.
Before I get going though, let me backtrack. I wasn’t actually in the office when Najafi withdrew his offer to buy Borders. All I know is that happened on a Thursday, and for the rest of the week, I was glued to my phone hoping to get any positive news nugget about Borders. Nothing positive came, and the day after my birthday, I learned Borders was going out of business. Happy Birthday to me, right? Sure, there was a Hail Mary pass to Books-A-Million, but it was broken up in the end zone (can you tell I’ve been watching football today?).
My first major “wind down” task was cleaning out offices and cubes of our fallen comrades. I honestly went from cube to cube, office to office making sure they were all cleaned out and all saleable (sp?) items (paper clips, pens, etc.) were collected for the liquidators. I shit you not, they even sold our used office supplies. Some of the cubes were cleaned already, and some had rotting food in them (that was a gross day), and no matter what, I busted my ass because I was still a Borders employee and because I wanted to make sure Borders was treated with the proper respect in its last days…even when I was cleaning out blueprints of all the old stores. I think it was that moment when everything hit me the most. Until that point, I was in denial and okay with being in denial. But, when you’re cleaning out and organizing old blue prints, it’s kind of hard to hide from it any longer. Thankfully, that was my last task as a Borders employee. If that was first, my last four weeks at the home office would have been harder.
Not all my last four weeks were bad though. It’s still Borders and the people are still top-notch. We all rose above the circumstances and displayed the traits that made Borders employees so awesome. Hell, I even found a Clifford the Big Red Dog costume while cleaning. I bet they didn’t find that in Circuit City when they were packing up shop there. The one weird thing about my last four weeks though had to be how open everyone was about looking for a new job. It almost seemed wrong, but hey, after our time was up at home office, it was time to pound the pavement. I had a few decent leads in those four weeks. Unfortunately none of those leads came through (I’m okay with that with the exception of one of those jobs – that rejection was a bitter pill). Luckily, I have some more leads, so here’s to hoping I’m employed sooner rather than later. To add to the weirdness of looking for a job while working, it is even weirder to be going up against my friends and colleagues on several jobs. It’s just natural that happens considering 400 ish folks lost their jobs in the same month or so, especially when it wasn’t by choice. Add to that, most of us have similar experience and skill sets. It’s great for potential employers. They really do have the pick of the litter, but it’s hard knowing I’m competing with friends. I just have to keep my big boy pants on and keep on trucking.
This may be my last post specifically about the liquidation or Borders. Sure Borders will always be a part of me, but I’m not sure how many of these posts I have in me. We’ll see. I will be writing some more blogs on here in the future, especially when I get back to writing and losing weight. Plus, one of my co-workers and I still have plans of starting up a new blog.
As a parting shot, I took a few snaps of Borders HQ in my last few days (some good, some bad). Since this is my final official post on the subject, I’m going to include them here after the jump