For one, I was completely clothed. For two, I cried. (NOT sexy).
OK, jokes aside. I got laid off for real. And I did cry.
Google “economy” to figure out why this happened: Budget cuts, a shitty economy, journalism jobs falling by the wayside. (Oh how I love being a statistic!!)
No matter how much I try to put the scene out of my head – you know, the scene where I get laid fully clothed -- it still comes back, eerie, like a flashback Dumbledore conjurs up in Harry Potter with smoky mist all around it.
I often think about it while viciously squinting my eyes.
“There’s no easy way to say this…” the boss started.
Of course this all happened on a Friday. Beware of Fridays. Just like in the movie Office Space.
“We find it's always better to fire people on a Friday. Studies have statistically shown that there's less chance of an incident if you do it at the end of the week.”
And Friday it was! A Friday before a long weekend, too.
It was barely 9 a.m. when I was called to the boss’ office, with my boss and the HR lady sitting there, solemn.
It was casual Friday, we were all wearing jeans.
I won’t get into their sound bytes about “corporate cuts” and “eliminating my position,” because those are reserved for another other scene in my head entitled “panic attack 2011.”
But I was told this was effective immediately.
“What about the stuff I was in the middle of working on?” I asked, since I’m a
“We’ll take care of it,” my boss said. “But I appreciate your integrity.”
Then: “You can go clean out your desk now.”
I stood to my feet, shaking, when the HR lady told me about trivial things like how I need to return the parking lot pass and file any expenses.
And then she said the other reporters and editors had been shuffled away from where my desk was so I could clean it out in peace.
OH MY GOD. THEY PLANNED AN ENTIRE OPERATION. I wondered what the others were told.
Did they know at that moment I was throwing mountains of papers into the trash can?
I wondered if someone had brought in donuts to lure them away from watching me.
I cleaned my desk in record time. If someone had gone to the bathroom for a…uh…number two…for example, they wouldn’t have even seen me leave.
I’ve had plenty of enough time by now to go over what happened (and over and over and over and over). I’ve compared notes with other friends who have been laid off (AMERICA!!! EFF YEA!!!) And I’ve come to the realization that there’s really no non-awkward way to lay people off.
One friend said he got an email that he was laid off. WHILE HE WAS ON VACATION. Another friend, who’s five feet tall, said she was actually escorted out of the building when they told her they didn’t need her anymore.
I suppose I should be grateful that I was laid off at the beginning of the day, not to waste another minute chasing down interviews, even more grateful for the severance package I got.
But the whole thing still doesn’t sit well. Because, while they said it was a “recent” decision by corporate to get rid of my position, why did my boss OK a big feature story for me two days before???
Whose idea was it to quarantine me from everyone else???
My dad says it doesn’t matter and I need to move on, which I’m trying to do. Have you ever been laid off? There’s a range of emotions, almost like a breakup. Sad, anger, fear, resentment, a hit to my pride.
What do I say when people ask me what I do? That I’m “retired?”
What about all those work clothes in my closet again??
How the EFF do you even file for unemployment??
And now, I’m shocked with boredom.
I’ve been working full-time for the past six years, see, ever since I graduated college.
I don’t think I’ve ever been at home at 2:30 p.m. on a Tuesday with quite literally nothing to do, no one to answer to.
But here I am, 2:30 ON A TUESDAY, with no one to answer to, in pajamas, figuring out my new life.
I’ll try and blog about my new job search, in case you, too, have been laid off, or worse, and we can navigate the unknown together.
In the meantime, if you wanna buy me a beer…I’ll let you.