So last week Wednesday, 18 people at my job were given "The Talk" and an innocuous envelope that held their severance package. As it turns out, I am not among them. But I am devastated by some of the people who were, including the woman I work most closely with, my "work spouse" of sorts. I don't really understand them letting her go. She brings talents to the table that no one else has, a head for coverlines, a way of packaging stories, and an editing style that often irritates writers for its pickiness, but that inevitably makes you think of dimensions you'd overlooked, questions you'd neglected to nail down, and always makes the piece stronger.
I counted on her as a human being, too, her calm equanimity, her quick but never cruel wit, her refusal to give in to the free-floating fear and paranoia that is a constant in my workplace. I am still in shock and denial that she's leaving. We shared the same job title and backed each other up seamlessly. Which makes me also ponder the fact that they must have put us side by side and said, Okay, which one? I wonder if they chose her because I waived my medical insurance coverage with the company, going with my husband's instead. I wonder if it came down to the fact that I cost the company less.
I feel like we're all on a conveyor belt, except none of us knows how close we are at any given point to toppling off the end of it. We can't see what's ahead, we only know that conveyor belt just keeps on rolling, and we could get to the end at any time. There are so few of us left now, and so much work to get done. I'm not afraid of working hard and I love the nature of the work I do. But the losses we've sustained could break your heart.