Sunday, June 03, 2007


Corporate Gypsies

Here are the confessions of a "professional gypsy" who lost her contract at Northwest Airline just day before its CEO, the egregious Gary Wilson, rode out in triumph with a $2 million "gratitude gift for mishandling the airline's business so thoroughly." She reflects on the fact that when workers change their careers up to five times in their working lives, they often do so out of necessity rather than choice. She writes, "We have become a nation of professional gypsies. Reinventing ourselves twice and thrice, we are wastage to corporations that must answer to hungry stockholders. Boomers especially are being downsized constantly while trying hard to stay in their chosen professions. Even in high-demand fields - accounting, engineering, physical therapy - the agencies and institutions that hire them change shape in a flash. Entire departments disappear overnight."

The number of bad and overcompensated CEOs is "finite", she says, but the number of "professional gypsies is so high that we cannot count them, and they are commonplace enough to cause scarcely a ripple." These people, who in many cases gave "their hearts and minds to the system", no longer care about the rules. They have slipped away into a twilit world where traditional measures of prosperity and achievement have become unattainable. For all the sacrifice and scrupulous obedience of their previous lives, they "never knew that the rule book had been taken out behind the shiny new corporate headquarters - now empty and untenanted - and burned."

"The plight of the professional gypsy" from The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

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