The community here is a healing place. Thanks for all the supportive comments on the news of my sudden joblessness. They mean more than you can ever know. The euphemism used was: Your position is being eliminated due to corporate restructuring, it pains me to do this, and so on. I kept a pretty good poker face, and I didn't get suckered in to comforting my executioner and making her feel better about the whole thing although I didn't try to make her feel worse either. I didn't ask many questions. I didn't want to sit through what I knew would be platitudes. The decision had been made. I'd had an inkling. Who schedules a meeting for 5 p.m. on a Friday evening? I just said, Okay, so what's the next step here? She gave me the name of the human resources person who was waiting to go through my package with me. I said thank you (reflexively), and left.
Truth is, it is humiliating to be fired. Or job eliminated. Apparently it's an important distinction, the latter allowing a company to simultaneously release you and hold you blameless. I didn't dissolve. I shut down instead. I told four people what had happened, people I care about beyond the job, and asked them not to say anything till I figured out how I wanted to handle it. Then I went to meet with HR. They had my wrong hire date, I explained the discrepancy, and they're looking into it.
After meeting with HR, I stood on the sidewalk to hail a cab home. There were none in sight. Then a limo driver I have come to know, a Haitian man who drives some muckety muck at the company, called out to me from across the street. He is often just parked there waiting for his boss and he has driven me home sometimes in the past. Just out of the goodness of his heart and for some extra cash, but even though he has a very fancy big black SUV with tinted windows like the movie stars use, he charges me less than a yellow cab. And yesterday, there he was, hailing me and asking if I needed a ride home. He was like an angel sent to give comfort. For some reason I felt like crying again. Anyway, I rode home from being laid off in grand style.
I had texted my husband and when I walked into the house, he met me at the door and just enveloped me and I did cry then. It felt good being wrapped in his arms, and safe. And then, strangely, I didn't want to take off my work clothes. For hours I walked around in them, aware that I would not be getting up and getting dressed for work again for some time to come. I feared the lack of structure. I called my kids. No answer. I texted them, "I just got voted off the island," a reference to the reality show Survivor, and to my son, who during a particularly intense period of layoffs used to say to me as I left for work each morning, "Don't get voted off the island today." My kids called me immediately. My daughter said, "Mom, I'm going to get a job and I'll help pay for college!" I told her not to worry, we were going to be fine and would figure everything out. And we will.
My son was just getting out of a movie when he called. He said, "I'm coming straight home." I told him he didn't have to, I was fine, but he insisted. It was touching. I felt mostly numb for the rest of the night. People from work kept calling but I didn't answer. I wasn't ready yet to talk to anyone. I thought, So this is how it feels. I've watched so many get fired over the past eight years. So many. And now I know what they were feeling in the days after the axe fell and they disappeared from my daily life. Mostly I worry about having enough money. I worry about finding a comparable position at my age. I worry about making the right moves. I'm inspired by people like Steve, our friend here, who went through something similar in New York media. And he remade his life in the most wonderful ways. So I also see the potential here. I need to keep focused on that.
I lay awake last night for hours, staring at my thoughts in the dark. Then I made of list of people to call, places to inquire about, actions to take next. First thing this morning, I called the writer I have worked most closely with, who had called and texted several times last evening. She urged me to take my time and gather information, don't sign anything precipitously, and really figure out what I want to do next. She said, "I know you. Your instinct is going to be to barrel out the gate and find another job, but take a minute with this. Think about what you really want. You're going to be fine and you have every resource I can bring to this to help you." I so appreciated that. She also called another woman, a former colleague, who she said wanted to help me as well. There are people around me offering support, and I don't know if any of it will pan out, but right now it feels good in the face of being unceremoniously let go.
My daughter just called. She said, "You sound so calm." I am trying to model courage for my children, and faith in the future. At this moment, my son and my husband are watching soccer and hooting over a score. It is so good to have our son home. He is not as snippy with me on continued association as he is in short bursts, like visits home from college. Living together again, we're good. And he and his dad are such pals. It's beautiful to see. Life goes on.