John McGinnis still remembers vividly the shock of losing his job with CSX Transportation in Baltimore a year ago.
"It was very traumatic -- like someone was pouring a bucket of cold water on your face. There was no forewarning," he remembers.
At the time, Mr. McGinnis -- a senior marketing manager who sold the railway's services to forest products producers -- found little consolation in the fact that CSX was restructuring and thatbeing severed was nothing personal.
"Basically, my job was abolished and my boss' job was abolished. But I still ask myself the question: 'Why did it happen to me?' "
CSX gave him a severance package. Still, Mr. McGinnis was angered by the manner in which he was notified of the layoff -- especially after having worked for CSX for three years.
He was summoned to the human resources office and told of the layoff in a very impersonal manner, Mr. McGinnis recalls.
"It was done poorly, coldly, very coldly and with a very weak explanation as to why."
Still, Mr. McGinnis, 45, says he resisted the temptation to fight CSX, figuring that would do no good. "You can't look back. Once a deal is done, there isn't anything you can do to change anyone's mind," he says.
Instead, Mr. McGinnis took out his anger through athletics. "My golf game improved tremendously for the next few weeks as I took a lot of my frustrations out on that little ball," he says. And he sought out group support from others who were getting assistance froman outplacement firm affiliated with Success Management, a Baltimore career counseling organization.
It took more than 40 interviews and many rejection letters, but eight months after he lost his job with CSX, Mr. McGinnis found the right position in a related segment of the transportation field. He turned down six jobs before taking the one he chose.
"I did something I never did before in my life. I answered a blind ad in the newspaper," he remembers.
The ad led him to take a position with PrintCo Enterprises Inc., a small, specialized trucking company based in Memphis, Tenn., with offices in the Annapolis Junction section of Howard County.
Mr. McGinnis serves as Northern sales representative for the firm, which transports newsprint, advertising inserts and other printed matter for newspapers and magazines.
"I took a big salary cut and at first, it hurt," he allows. But Mr. McGinnis sees the new position as an opportunity to help build a small company from scratch. And he relishes the change, which he finds rejuvenating.
Mr. McGinnis, who has changed jobs several times, finds the contrast with his father's career -- spent entirely with New England Telephone Co. -- to be interesting.
"In the business world there's no 'security' anymore, not for middle management there isn't, not in the United States. But I'm not so sure that my generation . . . wants security. Without changing jobs, I think we'd get bored real fast."