Can I bend your ear?

I said I wasn’t blogging – and for the most part the reading isn’t happening – but I have a situation I need help with.  The area we moved to used to be big DHL a few years back.  But they pulled up and moved to Wilmington, Ohio.  A lot of people here lost their jobs because of that.  Then last year they closed up shop in Wilmington and moved back to N Kentucky (hence why we are here now).  So here’s how things have gone so far…

Friday I was leaving the house to go to the store and I met one of the neighbors walking her dog.  We did the “where are you from? – how many kids? – was it a work transfer?”.  I answered “Philly, 2 and yes, DHL.”  Small pause, then –

“A lot of our friends lost their jobs when DHL moved to Wilmington.  Why did they move back?”

Do I look like I know the answer to that question?  I don’t know, I don’t work there.  We didn’t even live in the US when all this went on.  I sidestepped the whole conversation and went about my day.

Yesterday we had to have an electrician come because the kitchen outlets kept tripping and not working.  During that 30 minute visit of course “Where do you work?” is asked.  It was a bit tense as the whole “a lot of people lost their jobs” comes up.

I want to know how on earth to tactfully handle that question.  It’s not my fault, nor my husbands fault the company he works for moved to Ohio and then came back again.  I didn’t fire anyone.  Granted CP probably saw the people’s file come across his desk in Germany since HR is his job and he did have to be involved in all that…but he didn’t make the fire or hire decision.  I just don’t know how to answer people who bring it up. 

I have a feeling, being such a small town (where we got a lot of looks just going out to dinner at the place around the corner because obviously we are the new Big City people in town) everyone already knows who we are.  And where CP works.  I’m worried we’ll be the unpopular family on the block because of it.

What should I say when someone brings up the fact that indirectly CP is to blame for loads of people losing their jobs?  Is there even a nice way to respond to that?  HELP!

21 thoughts on “Can I bend your ear?

  1. I am a Midwest girl, and one of my good friends is from the south. She made me realize a few things about the Midwest:1. We ask a lot of questions2. We ask a lot of personal questions…So, now that I was made aware of these things-I try to be more tactful with my questions-You could just answer, “Hmm, I am not sure about that one-“You could change the subject-“Was that a deer that just ran by?”Or ask them, “What do you do?/ Why do you live here?”You could just answer a short, simple answer…Little info. as possible.Good luck-that sounds like a stressful situation.And when I started to notice I was put on the spot with personal questions, I also realized there were questions I didn't want to answer, but felt I had to-Remember, you don't have to answer any questions you don't want to- 🙂

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  2. From living in the South, I have to offer up that a lot of people talk to simply talk. It's a way of showing they are friendly. If they know anything at all about a situation, they'll mention it. If they see me and my adopted Indian daughter, they might mention that they “had Indian food once at that place off West End”. No joke. So, I would guess they're sharing information that they know about that company, and not necessarily passing judgement on you, or your husband for working there. And certainly not holding the opinion that he is responsible for the loss of jobs! You might want to even respond by offering up that you knew little about it all, as you were living in Germany at the time. Press on and get to know everyone…. I'm sure it will be fine. And whatever “first impression” they got about the situation will line up better with reality as they see you as more than DHL employees from the “Big City”. It will take time, but it will be fine (unless you never really have time and more to another city again next year! ha! We felt like the move from Southern California to Nashville took 2 years to adjust to).

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  3. I've never lived in a small town. Your particular circumstances sound especially awkward but that being said, I'm sure they understand that your family personally isn't at fault for the jobs lost. I'm sure a lot of the questions you get are curiosity, answer them honestly, and eventually I'm sure you guys will no longer be a novelty, just another member of the community…

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  4. Well, I'll clearly be of no help as a big mouthed Northeasterner who would be thisclose to throwing around some none-of-your-business-attitude. I forget that the rest of the country isn't always so protective and defensive. I guess smiling and shrugging in a “I don't know about any of that, we're new around here” fashion is the way to go?Good luck!

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  5. Hmmm tough one. Why don't you just say “I'm not really sure the answer to that since we were in Germany at the time” and then go with “was that a deer that just went by” like the previous person mentioned. lol Sorry about all this. You know you can always talk to me if you need to!

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  6. I would say, “Gosh, I don't know” because you don't. As to the comment, a lot of people have lost jobs because of the move to Ohio, just say “I'm so sorry “. Ask questions about their families and jobs because you want to know about them too.Having a ready response really helps because then you just not standing there in silence.Good Luck and keep us posted on the situation.

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  7. Ooooo..sounds like a sticky situation that will keep coming up. You could avoid the whole thing by saying that you just came from Germany and your husband works for DHL – makes it sounds like maybe he was with someone else in Germany….maybe not totally honest.Or when people say, “You know a whole lot of people lost their jobs….” You could say, “I heard that. I'm sorry. What about you? How long have you been here?”And now you know just one reason I never got along real well in any of the Midwestern towns we lived in.

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  8. I don't necessarily think that they blame you or CP for DHL's decisions; I think you may be projecting your feelings of displacement on them, actually. That being said, however, I'd simply point out that you don't know much about the inner workings of DHL, nor does your husband make those sorts of decisions, so you really don't know any more about the situation than they do.

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  9. Oh yikes, I have no idea. What a tough situation to be in.All I can say is continue being the kind of people you are:kindgeneroushelpfuland they'll grow to love and accept youwhat more can someone do

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  10. I'm not a fan of lying because it's too much work. But, honestly, if they're not interested in seeing beyond that, they're not worth knowing. I hope people won't make snap judgments about you!

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  11. Ohmygosh! What a sticky situation!!What I always try to do, is to remember the Golden Rule. If you put yourself in the other person's shoes and react as they would want you to, it usually plays out well. Being honest and kind is always the way to live. People might be resentful at first, but try not to take it personally. I know, very hard to do. This has been a really tough couple of years for many, many families!Hugs and good luck!

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  12. Well, I have a number of suggestions – being a former small towner myself – but none that are polite enough for a blog comment. Minding one's own business would be the theme, however. Seriously. Life sucks somehow and throwing your resentments about it onto other people is just petty. Don't bother with them.

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  13. We are actually in a very similar situation. My husband works for a large Swiss company that laid off a lot of Swiss employees at the same time that there was an influx of Americans to the Zurich HQ. The fact that the Americans were in different departments and doing different things didn't seem to matter. It angered a lot of people.But I take a completely different tactic. When people ask what my husband does, I just say “computers.” Not where he works. The Swiss are usually too non-intrusive to ask further. Worst case scenario, I pretend I'm not sure what they are asking. Language barriers can also be useful!Ugh. Good luck!

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  14. Oy, I don't know. Just tell them that things are rough all around and you were really counting on your husband to find a job and glad that he did. That you don't know anything about the company itself and their hiring/firing practices.

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