Thursday, October 22, 2009


As a supervisor was walking with me back to my office he asked if I had a backup plan. I laughed. It never occurred to me to have a back up plan.

Sure, I’d thought about what I might do after I left my job, especially after I finished my degree a couple of months ago. I couldn’t stay there indefinitely, could I? Would I even want to? But I was happy where I was at. There was no need to rush on to The Next Big Thing. Besides, staying meant avoiding the big What To Be When I Grow Up question.

A couple of months ago it became known that a couple of the production lines were going to be relocated to other facilities. It stood to reason that the people running the lines would be let go when there was nothing for them to work on. It wasn’t until this last Tuesday, when news of the unusual monthly meeting set-up made its way back to my tiny office, did I begin to think, ‘hey, they might downsize my department too!’

I realized it was possible that I could be the one let go.

I even took all the personal stuff littering my desk and drawers home yesterday. Just In Case.

And it still never occurred to me to start thinking of a backup plan.

I knew it was possible. It made sense that with a third of the production lines going there’d be a third of the work to do, so bye-bye third person in my department.

It was still a shock when I heard my position had been... shit, what did they call it? Not redundant... “No longer needed” I guess. Which is bullshit, because the job still needs to be done. They’re just foisting it on my coworker. Out of the blue. No heads up so I can give him any training. Sucks to be him. Wait a minute... no it doesn’t! He still has a job!


I knew that if I was let go, everything would be okay.

It will suck, but I can find another job.

The HB will support me, emotionally and financially for a bit if need be.

I’d be okay. We’d be okay.

I could look at it as a good thing, a gentle push into a different direction that will ultimately turn out to be so much better for me.

I knew this, and still I was anxious. It felt irrational to be so anxious. It would’t be the end of the world. I knew it. So why worry about it? If something happens, I’ll deal with it!

Easier said than done.

I showed up at nine this morning, giving myself a pep talk. “It’ll be fine. There’s probably nothing to worry about, but if you’re let go, it will be okay. It will be okay.”

I wish I’d talked myself into believing I was getting laid off instead. Then I could have been more prepared to deal with the news.

I would have been braced for the bad. I would have appeared calm. Cool. Unaffected. “You’re letting me go? Interesting. Could we speed this up? I have an interview at 10.”

As the employees showed up this morning, all of the supervisors were lined up down the hall that lead to the conference/meeting room. It was surreal, like they were getting ready to shake everyone’s hand for the last time. It really weird-ed me out, so I avoided eye contact and ducked into the room through the first door I came to.

There was a five minute speech. “Hello. Welcome. Shits about to happen. Let’s begin.” That was about it. Then we had one-on-ones with a HR manager and our supervisor. I was in the first batch called. The others had to stay in the conference room while they waited their turn.

I sat down in a small meeting room with the best boss I’ve ever had and some stranger I’ve never met before. I should have picked up on the boss’s body language and voice tone. Thinking about it now, he looked uneasy, like he was about to share some unpleasant news. Ha! I think I subconsciously chalked it up to just being a bad day for everyone. He said he was going to read through the script they (the bosses) had to run through. I thought that was just because the HR rep was there and the boss had to be ‘by the book’. He’s always been so damn informal. That damn script lulled me into thinking everything was okay. “Production has been cut... less need for certain jobs… YOUR JOB IS NO LONGER NEEDED SUCKER.”

Bam! Pow! WTF?

I was waiting for him to say ‘only two jobs will be kept in your department’ and I was bracing to find out which of the other two it was going to be. But then he said “you”. “Your” job. “Your” position. “You” will no longer be working here. Not “him” or “them” but “you” and I kept repeating that.


That means “me.”

Why, why, why did I think I was so safe? I should have convinced myself I was a goner. I wouldn’t have felt so stupid while the HR dude talked about the HR stuff.

But I was cool about it. I didn’t cry. I didn’t freak out. I even cracked a joke! And they laughed!

And I was going to walk out of there with my head held high dammit.

This will be a good thing, I told myself as the HR guy talked. And my boss just sat and stared at me. This will be that nudge I need to find a better job. A job that better suits me and my talents. This will all turn out to be The Best Thing For Me.

Then the HR guy got to the end of his spiel. He’d handed me all the paperwork he needed to hand me, told me all the things he needed to tell me.

Then he handed me my last paycheck.

And it was suddenly ten times more real.

I felt that tight grip of control start to loosen and my face started to scrunch up in a holy-shit-I’m-about-to-cry sort of way. I took a deep breath and quickly apologized.

“Sorry,” I said flapping my arms up and down twice. “I think I’m about to have a girl moment.”

“It’s okay,” the HR guy said in an annoyingly sympathetic tone.

I took a second to regroup.

“Here,” my boss said and nudged the box of Kleenex a fraction of an inch closer.

“Well damn,” I said as I stared at the box sitting in the middle of the table. “That should have been a dead give away right there!”

They chuckled. And they watched me stare at that last check. That god damn last check from my first real grown up job that I’ve had for the last eight and a half years and holy crap what am I going to do now with my fucking life.


At least I didn’t get fired, right? That would have been worse. Nothing I did wrong. Nope. They just downsized. And I wasn’t good enough to keep around.


I hid the check between the stack of papers I’d been given. I wanted to be strong. To be able to stare at it, hold it in my hands, and not be fazed by it. But I couldn’t do it. I felt weak. And that annoyed me. And then I felt like crying. And I wanted to get the hell out of there before anyone besides those two saw it.

But not before I thanked the HR guy for a wonderful job. “In all seriousness,” I told him. “You were awesome.” They kept letting me blab on and on like an idiot instead of kicking me out of the room like sensible people who are still in their right mind because they still have their damn job. We’re all standing up, next to the door. I’m thanking the HR guy. And I think I thanked my boss for “everything” either before or after I looked dead in the eyes and said, “This sucks.” And still they let me linger. Kick me out for crying out loud and stop me before I embarrass myself even more. Sheesh!

Next stop: saying goodbye to my office. I’d cleaned out my desk yesterday, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to pack up every last thing I’d want to take with me. Because it wasn’t going to really happen. I knew it was possible, I really did, but I still didn’t believe it would happen.

Yesterday, before I left for the day, I’d grabbed all desk gnomes I’ve collected over the years. A couple were happy meal toys. Three of them are pokemons found in poptart boxes. A few were x-men figurines found in those plastic bubbles you get from the quarter machines at movie theaters. A coworker had given me two, wolverine and magneto. Another coworker had given me a dog figurine. Another had given me a happy face with legs and bunny ears.

Gah! Making it all worse is that I have no idea who else got laid off. I didn’t have time to say goodbye to the friends I had there. I could send them a goodbye email, but what if they’re not there Monday to receive it?

Well, I’d packed up my cd’s yesterday as well. A calculator I’d gotten from work with a cool little flip top. I’d emailed 8 years worth of pictures and person files I’d found/made through the years then deleted them from the computer.

But I hadn’t taken the award certificate Mr. Desk Neighbor had made me for having the messiest desk.

I didn’t want to walk all the way back to my office, with a damn escort at that, I just wanted to leave. But I didn’t want to leave without that certificate.

So we made the trek to the back. While I was there I grabbed some other keepsakes. I grabbed the ugly fanny pack I received a couple of years ago that was given out as a ‘safety award’. I thought about leaving all the pens and post-it notes that were inside (I’d used it to carry my office supplies every time I moved offices) but I just dumped that shit in a drawer and left. I couldn’t linger about any longer.

So yeah. I have no job. I am unemployed!

And it feels so damn surreal.

I think I got all the crying out of my system as I drove home. And as I went through the drive through at In-N-Out. That was a little embarrassing.

I am NOT going to freak out about money, i.e. car payments, student loan payments, rent, and all the other bills I started cataloguing on my way home.

But it is tempting.

I will also not worry about the fact that the HB and I had wanted to move into a house soon. Our lease is up this month and we still need to decide, ‘House? Cheaper apartment while we save some more? Or stay?” I will also not worry about the fact that the HB has been thinking about quitting his job for awhile now. Guess I foiled those plans!

I called him as soon as I got to my car and I’d just like to say he is the bestest boyfriend ever.

He said I should take a month or two off, but I’m thinking a week should suffice for a decent pity party. Or maybe two. I’m kind of afraid to take off more than that. I might like the lazy life a bit too much.

I'll take some time though, then see what’s out there in the Big Scary World of Job Openings. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find something I can use my useless degree for! Wouldn’t that be the shit?

It will all work out for the best.

Everything will be all right.

I will be all right.

Nothing but good times ahead.

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