Then the D-day arrived. I was travelling back from hometown to Bangalore and my flight was delayed so I was late to work. When I reached office I saw that my colleagues seat was empty but his bag was there. A little time later he came with our manager and waved goodbye to me in a very sad manner and went away with our manager again. That is when I started getting an inkling of what was happening.
A little while later I sent out a mail to all my friends and colleagues in office and 2 ids bounced, I was shocked and reality sunk in, they had been laid off. One of those friends was in my project and was the most hard working person in our team. A little while later he came by to formally say goodbye and we went with him to see him off. I know that his lay off is a loss to the company but this won't lessen his pain at being laid off.
After this experience, my perspective changed, I was no longer embarrassed about being laid off, I was embarrassed about being retained when someone more deserving was let go. At that point I decided that no matter how small or meaningless the work, I'll do it to the best of my ability. Before that day, If I was given an assurance that we won't lay you off, but some other employee or you can take a pay cut and no one will be laid off, I think I might have chosen the first option but now after witnessing the process first hand, no matter what the incentive, I will chose the second option.
This experience also made respect my previous company more. The company is famous for having thousands of people on bench but not firing anyone. Before I would mock this policy as an inefficient way of running things but now I understand the policy and have a new respect for the concept of socialism.