Thursday morning I was talking with Dan about my book and how many copies I wanted to order myself. 100? 500? He looked a bit squirmish and said, “Maybe we should wait and see what happens today. Microsoft just announced that they’re laying off 18,000 people.”

That is a number larger than five.

He went to work and called around 11am to say he was pretty sure the ax was going to fall in his general direction. He had an ominous meeting request at 1:00. We both knew what was coming. I went next door to my neighbor’s house to hug and cry and then I cleaned my house for two and half hours and forgot to eat.

And then the ax fell and we talked and I cried and we both commenced an involuntary job-loss-induced cleanse, netting me a 4 pound weight loss in a single day. Drop of Awesome!

I immediately texted our family and after they’d responded, I promptly put a note on Facebook, announcing the great news:

“Friends and family. Good news. Dan Thompson, possibly the world’s greatest code-writing ninja, is available to come and write code for your company, preferably a software shop based in the Seattle area. He was a casualty of the massive layoffs at Microsoft today and a free agent for the first time in eleven years.”

The outpouring of love, support, and most importantly job leads was insane. It was like Dan got to attend his own funeral and listen to the eulogies and the eulogies were so awesome that several people offered to bring him back to life and to a better life than he had previously been living.

One friend texted from his vacation in Hawaii, setting up a phone interview with his company. Others from around the country offered any options they could think of and everyone who’s worked with Dan let him know just how sad and shocked they were that he was affected by the layoffs and how great it had been to work with him.

And they are right. Dan is awesome. I have no doubt that he will be employed again very quickly.

But there’s still a mourning period. He was recruited by Microsoft at a career fair at BYU and he’s never even switched groups over the last eleven years, although the people and products around him have changed many times. This is the only big-kid career he’s ever known and to have the ax fall is pretty traumatic. And we still like Microsoft. Overall, the company has been very good to us and we believe in many of their products. For example, you’ll have to pry my Windows Phone from my cold dead hands before I’d switch back to an android device (Sorry Google peeps who may be interviewing Dan next week. I’m sure you’re simply lovely.)

It’s like being dumped by your high school sweetheart, who you still kind of have the hots for even after all these years. It eats rocks.

And then there’s the momentary financial insecurity. We have decent severance and savings accounts. But I don’t want to dip into our savings accounts and I don’t want to have a paycheck end date.

I spent much of the afternoon Friday canceling non-essentials. Yard care, pest control, milk delivery, etc. Each person I’d call would ask if I was displeased with the service and each time I’d muffle a sob and say, “No. You’re great. My husband lost his job today.” While I was on the porch making these calls away from my children’s ears, a UPS truck showed up with an Amazon package of something we didn’t need. I declined the order. It felt kind of powerful to say, “I can do without.” (Sorry Amazon execs who may be interviewing Dan next week. I’ll reorder it after you offer him a job.)

Taking my neighbor’s advice, we decided to tell the kids enough to keep them informed but spin it in a positive way.

“This is a good time to see how blessed we are that we prepared for things like this so we won’t have to worry about money while dad looks for a job.”

“Will you help us think of creative ways that we can save money so we won’t even have to use the emergency savings?”

I told them that the reason I was crying was not because we were worried about finding a new job because logically we’re not. I told them I was crying because something good was ending and something good IS ending.

In a crazy scheduling coincidence, we ended up watching our friends’ two kids overnight the night Dan was laid off and all day today.

So, today, on Dan’s last day with a badge, we hit the Microsoft Campus with gusto and a couple of friends in tow for a self-proclaimed layoff party.


We drank free soda and chocolate milk and ate at our favorite campus restaurant.


We played in the fountains and with the electronics in the company museum.


We took pictures and helped dad pack up his cereal, and awards and rubber ducks.


We made echos in the parking garage.


And we danced.


People were nice as we left, but sort of awkward with their faces awash in survivor’s guilt. Smile sheepishly and look away as Dan parades by with his earthly possessions packed into boxes carried by our, three, wait, five, pathetic, smiling children. It was all very dramatic and Tiny-Tim-ish. On the elevator, a coworker murmured condolences and Wanda beamed up at him and said in chipper excitement, “My dad isn’t going to work here anymore!”

Awkward silence.


When we were alone, Dan coughed into his hand and said, *cough* *cough* “Buy me last pape?”

We laughed so hard tonight thinking about it. Bringing the extra kids in for our grand exit was so money.


It’s been a great eleven years, but he was about due for a change. Good things are coming our way, we can feel it. So long Microsoft! May your nerdery ever be fruitful and your chocolate milk flow free.


Past Posts About Microsoft

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21 Responses to Layoff

  1. Emily Speight says:

    I just know something amazing will be right around the corner for Dan. You have such an amazing perspective on this temporary problem! If he’s been working at Microsoft for this long, he’s got to be fantastic at his job, so I’m sure he’ll get snapped up shortly.

    Just the same, I’ll be praying for you guys :).

  2. Mir says:

    You guys are a class act through and through. Much love to your whole family and I can’t wait to hear about the next adventure! xoxo

  3. Dan says:

    “Buy me last pape?” FYI for those who don’t recognize it, that’s from the movie “Newsies”. (Somewhat of a cult classic, at least where I’m from. Great family movie.)

    I could never feel so positive without you at my side, sweetie.

  4. elin young says:

    I love you all… have faith in you all, that things will work out well in the long run, understand that things kind of reek in the short run, think you are the most fun class-act people I know and pray for you without fail!

  5. Jeanie says:

    The post about the flamingos and undulating sculpture was one of the first posts Melanie and I read, and is still one of my favorites! Here’s to all the great things the future holds in store for the Thompson family!

    And Dan, you’ll be proud that I totally got the Newsies reference. 🙂

  6. Eric Kool-Brown says:

    Hey Dan, Microsoft’s loss will be your gain. I’m sure you’ll find a great place to work. Shoot me an email if you are looking for leads. BTW, long time no see. 🙂

  7. Louis Martinez says:

    I followed a link here from another site. I’m one of the many that were let go. I, like your husband, held my head high, and celebrated with all of the amazing people around me at work. Your story made me smile, and if Dan is as awesome as he seems here, he’ll be fine and do even greater things. Take care and best of luck!

  8. Pamela Thompson says:

    Dan and Fam, YOU ARE TOTALLY AWESOME!!!! All of you! Dan is about the best there is at what he does for a living. Too bad Microsoft had an “error” in the way they lay people off! I suspect this will turn out to be an improvement in jobs, although it is no doubt temporarily disturbing. Sure love you folks!

  9. Satyaki Panda says:

    Kathryn and Dan – My sincere and deep appreciation to you guys for looking at the positives in middle of uncertainty. You both set an example of class and dignity which is tough to match in today’s society. Like you guys i love Microsoft ( been with this company for over a decade) and appreciate for all the good things and the fun memories. I am sure and very hopeful that Dan will be a part of something bigger soon in his industry. Love you guys .. from Asia

  10. Pam says:

    What a beautiful response to a sad situation! A few years ago I was Microsoft’s recruiter for BYU interns. I worked with many other schools but I can tell you that the BYU students were far and away my favorites. Every one of them was classy, kind and had marvelous values. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to hear the students choose from their multiple job offers based on things like which would give them the best family life balance as opposed to having dollar signs in their eyes like quite a few interns at other schools. I am still a technical recruiter and would take you in a heartbeat for my current company, which is in downtown Seattle and puts a big emphasis on work life balance. I’m also happy to connect you with other recruiters in the area if my company doesn’t have anything that fits or interests you. Please feel free to contact me at And please know that you are highly valued!!! Layoffs are about positions, not people, and knowing Microsoft as well as I do, I know they lost some amazing talent on Thursday. Pam

  11. Stephanie says:

    I’m so sorry to hear your family is going through this. Has he thought of applying for a consulting firm like Avanade? That way he still works on Microsoft products and gets the free chocolate milk. It seems like he has a lot of great leads, but I thought I’d include that idea.

  12. mona says:

    Awww, I’m sorry about the layoff, Kathryn and what a great way to support him. I hope there’s a lot of free chocolate milk in the next endeavor.

  13. Jim Glass says:

    So many musician friends in this boat this week. So much so I too blogged about it, but I went through it three years ago. Check out my top three tips for transition. We’d hate for you to move to another town and we lose a great sax player!

  14. Ke says:

    Such a lovely story and I always wanted to let you know that your husband is going to the better place! Best wishes to all of you.
    ps very so lovely kids!

  15. Jennifer B. says:

    Remembering your family in our prayers today.

  16. Linda says:

    the next job will be better ! best wishes.

  17. Dave S. says:

    So sorry to hear this. Does MSFT allow those affected to transfer to other jobs in the company? I’ve already passed Dan’s name on to two managers/leads…

  18. Jen says:

    So sorry to hear about this. We’ve been through this before ourselves. It’s not easy. One can’t help but wonder if, perhaps, they had dispensed with all the “FREE” chocolate milk, soda, video games, etc. they might have been able to pay their employees?? I’m sorry.

  19. mo says:

    Thank you for sharing this very personal event with all of us. As others have posted, the example you set for dealing with bad news is phenomenal. Grace, peace and lots more laughs to you guys.

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  21. Mindi Erikson Kurtz says:

    I love your attitude! All of you! My husband got laid off years ago, one month after we bought a house. Oh yeah. Unfortunately his company didn’t have the class of Microsoft. From the minute he got laid off a security guard shadowed him while he packed up his things and then escorted him out. Demeaning. BUT we came through it without a scratch, well, maybe a couple bruises, but we did it, and I know you will, too. I’m thankful every day that we have food storage, the support of the whole community, and good friends to keep us going and cheer us on. He found another job before the severance ran out, and a year later the original company called him back and in 3 years he’lol be ready to retire. God works in mysterious ways, right? Lots of love and support coming at you from Big Red country!

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