There was excitement in the air, Obama, the first black male was elected president on Monday. Living in Washington, DC, at the time, was a historic moment. Most businesses were closed due to the sheer number of people flooding the subways and interstates for Inauguration festivities in the Nation’s Capital.

Walking into the office on Tuesday, colleagues were smiling and cheerful. Then, the news slithered through the office the way a snake approaches its prey.  

Fifteen people with boxes in hand were escorted out of the building. A bit of WTF, just happened was in the minds of all my colleagues.

They were laid off. Their jobs ceased immediately. How can people go from zeal to sadness in a matter of hours?

Looking at my own project deadlines, the clinical trial I was conducting would end in three months. Hummm. No new clinical trials had been assigned to me yet and I was only working on further strategy for the company.  

Work continued on.

Five months later, our clinical team met for our weekly meeting in the board room. The Vice President of Clinical took his normal seat at the end of the long oval table. He looked directly at the sheet of paper and began reading. He didn’t look at anyone in the eye. Suddenly, over our shoulder, we were all handed white envelopes.

The Vice President read, “Each of you are receiving a severance package. There are three rounds of layoffs based on when your projects are ending. They range from six weeks to three months.”

The young lady with short blonde hair across the table cried uncontrollably. She couldn’t keep it together.

The VP continued, “Many of you were  supposed to go to our major industry conference to present clinical data. Those already registered can still go. I recommend you network. We will also give each of you a solid recommendation.”

We looked at each other in shock and took a deep breath. What next?

Yet, deep inside I already knew this was on the horizon. I was already touching base with my network, solidifying referrals, and getting my resume together. When you work in the pharmaceutical industry, a single clinical trial with bad results can make or break a company. Our company had bad results for the last $100 million clinical trial so we knew things didn’t bode well for the future. The product simply didn’t work. Ever get that feeling something is about to happen?

I was in the first round of layoffs. I had exactly six weeks to find a job. The funny part is that I didn’t worry. I even continued on with my first summit attempt up Mt. Rainier over a long weekend. In many ways life continued on. How often do you worry and forget to enjoy the fun times in life when others aspects are unsettled?

I hit the industry conference meeting and chatted with all the vendors and companies. Upon departure, I had interviews set up with three companies.

In two weeks, I had a new job. Although, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. My prior work in vaccines and global infectious disease was highly sought after. The company I choose to work with was selected to run clinical trials for the 2009 H1N1 virus (swine flu). 

H1N1 was quickly spreading around the country and the world. Clinical sites were selected were the biggest infectious rates were in the country. Ironically, we supported an Australian manufacturer so our meetings were either very early in the morning or very late at night. Not an easy schedule to work with.

Soon the public and world was asking when the H1N1 vaccine would be available. Few people realize it takes up to six months to manufacture vaccines and another three to six months to test and analyze the data.

The nation and world was getting sick and unlike the 24 hour flu bug, H1N1 hit hard and knocked people out of work for 3-5 days.

Our deadlines became national headlines! How’s that for accountability?

It was all hands on deck to pull and verify the data at our clinical sites. There was no distinguishing between associate, manager or director. We all flew around the country and did whatever it took to speed things along.  

I travelled to the highest rate of infection site in the country, Kentucky. A week later, I was on our regular evening call with Australia at 7pm at night. Throughout the call, I felt woozy. I took my temperature and for the first time in ten years I had a fever of 103 degrees. Needless to say, I didn’t make it into work the next day. I did what you normally do when you’re sick, rest and drink fluids. 

Months later, the vaccine was given out in priority to those who needed it.

A few months later, the world and country forgot about what happened.

Yes, in 2009-2010, people got sick a little longer than normal. Yes, a few people did die. The vast majority of the people in the world got sick and recovered after a week.

The world did not close borders and quarantine. Some schools did close when many kids were home sick.

 Most people don’t realize new viruses emerge every year. Even influenza virus mutates with the season.

Stay vigilant, do not over react. Worry only throws negativity at everyone. Fear is not love. Love is taking the steps only you can take to regain health. 

Do what you normally do to regain health. Eat right, don’t overexert yourself, and drink plenty of fluids.

Wishing you an abundant, joyful and prosperous day!

Lora Polowczuk
Chief Energy Officer
© Priority Retreats International