I’ll be honest. When I think of the words “laid off”, images of 30 or 40 something year old men come to mind. These men anxiously meeting with someone from an outside company who has the pleasant job of deciding whether an employee is meeting the standards of the company well enough to continue being paid. Deep down, these men know it’s time to go.
Not me, though. I knew I wanted to go, as soon as I secured a better job. I just hadn’t realized that time was immediately and way ahead of schedule.
I went into work, like every other day, did all the work that was expected for the morning. Did some work that was completely unexpected. Nothing was different. The manager above me, Chris, came in. He was acting strange. Very strange.
Antsy and awkward.
Then the owner of the store came in and called me into the back. He was all dressed up. Salmon polo tucked firmly into loose khaki dress pants. Loafers, of all things.
I figured he had some important meeting.
Then he started talking.
I, was the meeting.
From the second the over-used business phrases for “you’re fired” started coming out of his mouth, I lost it. “We are moving a new direction, and unfortunately we have to move on without you.” Must be a hell of a direction.
I was so shocked and so angry that all I could even try to do was stand there and cry. Not very dignified, I know. But the body does what the body does. And I had relinquished all mental control. Thinking wasn’t even an option. He was officially marking me down as being “laid off”. And all I could do was cry. 25 years old. And a crier.
I did my best to keep it together. But once I actually realized what it was that was happening, that this was my last day and that I would never be setting foot in this store again, the anger started to grow exponentially.
And once that started, the only thing I could do was freak out. Why? What had I done to deserve this treatment? Did I deserve to be fired half way through a shift? Half way through my work week? With no warning and a half-assed explanation about money, organization, and something about being friends when I stopped being angry?
I don’t remember driving. But I did get home. I spent 5 straight hours talking to different people on the phone. The anger turned into panicked anger. Talking was the only way to keep my brain from imploding. Sure, I hadn’t lost anyone. My life was still significantly better than a lot of people in the world. But I had just poured 4 years of my life, almost exactly 4 years, into this job. I had put up with more than I should have. And it was all gone.
Time was simultaneously agonizingly slow and leaping forward in bounds.
Sleeping sort of came in spurts. My body ached. My brain jumped from thingtothingtothingtothing,
Waking up was an odd experience.
I was waking up into a new life.
What was I going to do with it?