Tuesday morning started out like any other day. Well, that's not entirely true...in the middle of my morning routine I read my friends' CaringBridge post that their cancer-stricken daughter had declined considerably and might be in the last stages. That was jarring, but the good news is, three days later she's still hanging in there, and the bonus time has allowed them to add some good memories to their collection. But otherwise, it was a normal morning. I went to work, settled in at my desk, ate breakfast, and started digging into my computer. A couple minutes later, I was surprised to see my big boss peeking around the cubicle wall. He doesn't come into town much, so it was interesting that he was there. He very quickly asked me to come with him. He wasn't very chatty on the walk across the office, and right about that moment I figured out what was happening. I couldn't quite believe it, but it became extra clear upon arrival in the conference room. I sat in calm disbelief as it was explained that my position was being eliminated and as of that day, it was done. DONE. As in, no more job. Nine years, and it all ended in an instant.
I tried to keep calm and rational, but inside I sort of wanted to exclaim to them that they were out of their minds, for reasons I'll explain later. I had to sit through a few minutes with the HR person, then get passed along to a transitional job coach for a half hour to hear their game plan for helping me through this process. And then it was time to be escorted to my desk, so they could watch me pack up nine years' worth of stuff and prevent me from touching my computer. I had a few minutes to say goodbye to my department mates, and that was it. They were devastated, not just because we were a great team, but because we were overwhelmed as it was with three of us, and most of what I did they don't know how to do. It was just sudden and awful and as perplexing as it was shocking.
I was home before 11am, with nowhere to go and nothing to do. So, of course, I jumped on Facebook, despite the fact that all of the paperwork from the transition folks urges you not to do that. But this is real life and I'm not about to keep this one to myself, not when the rest of my life is so out there. Easier to get it over with than to systematically have to run into people and have them awkwardly, unknowingly embarrass themselves when they say something and I have to break the news. I'm not going to say anything I might regret anyway. Of course I got an outpouring of support in the comments and plenty of private messages, many with possible leads and offers of help. It was nice to get those on an otherwise crappy day. I found out later that morning that three of my office mates had been let go as well, all with as much or more time with the company, so after that I felt less bad about my situation, at least.
Still, this has clearly been a jarring, surreal experience. I never in a million years expected to be here. I don't say that arrogantly, I say that as a person who was the only one doing what I was doing, and someone doing a lot of work that is requested directly by clients and the people working directly with the clients. And the stuff I was doing was not simple work that anyone can just pick up and move on with. One facet of it involves significant outside training and lots of practice. The other involves a bunch of very complex files (some of which even I had trouble with after years of working with them) and the brain to be able to conceptualize what's happening within the files. Not everyone has that--believe me, we've tried. Some of what I did directly impacted the major client we brought in last year, and this turn of events strikes me as strange since I was always taught that this client's tasks take priority...and yet now that I'm not there, their stuff is simply not going to get done. I just don't know how you let someone go without some sort of plan to continue their work. Trust me, what I did was valuable (ask any of the people banging down my digital door every day), and that they felt it wasn't necessary any longer...well, it still blows my mind. I'd think that even if it wasn't my job. Like I said, my two department mates were very upset and obviously they realize the gravity of what just happened, but we'll see when the powers that be realize it.
I trained my one co-worker on some elements of these tasks when I went out on maternity leave two years ago, but most of that was just to keep things moving while I was out. It was not for long-term maintenance. That got too complex. They were in dire straits during those seven weeks simply being down a body. As my one co-worker said, "Tears were shed." There was so much work. And now that situation is permanent. My boss admitted when I talked to her yesterday that she's pretty sure she's still in denial. They're just not sure how they're going to get it all done.
As much as this situation stinks for me, most of the time I feel worse for them. After all, over the years most people that have left the company seem to find something even better for them. I have a chance to start over, to find something great. I'm sort of getting off easy, since I don't have to train anyone to replace me or worry about all of the stuff that I spent the last nine years worrying about. Meanwhile, they're stuck with all of their work plus mine (much of which they can't do) and figuring out how to move forward like that. It's completely unfair to all of us, I guess.
Of course, I have no small task ahead of me. Sure, I have a bit of a severance and I don't have to get up and go anywhere in the morning for a while. But I need to get a job. I decided this feels a little bit like graduating from college. There's a bit of relief when the classes and the studying are done...but then reality sets in that you need to find a job as soon as possible. Granted, nowadays I have a husband, two kids, and a house, so the stakes are even higher. But I have 15 years of working experience and a few connections to explore. Not a terrible place to start, at least. But it's definitely not what I was expecting, and things are thrown a bit off track at the moment.
I have a lot more thoughts to share on this, but that's the main part of the story for now. That it took me this long to blog about it proves that being off work can be just as busy as working. It's been an eventful few days, to say the least. It's not every day that your life's entire trajectory changes, and getting used to a new route is quite the process. At least it will provide a break from me complaining about all of the sickness around here (though did I mention I woke up early Wednesday morning and realized my pinkeye was back? Yeah. That was fun.).
So, here goes nothing...stay tuned.