It’s not out of the ordinary for me to think today could be the day I’m getting ready for work for nothing. There have been plenty of mornings in these last few months that I’ve thought I was only packing my lunch to turn right around and bring it back home with me, or that I was straightening my hair just to be back home in a couple of hours and climbing back into bed. My company has been on a downward slope for a while now but I've been hesitant to search for another job because I'm a creature of habit and I shy away from change.
This morning was no different than the others. If anything the thoughts of pointlessness were more intensified, because our company meeting was being held at 9:00 instead of 10:30 and there were out of town executives scheduled to attend. At the very least this meant bad news, and at the very worst it meant THE bad news. I packed my lunch and got dressed up for work anyway, because really, how else was I going to know?
At 9:00 on the dot we were all sitting in the meeting room recapping our weekend adventures and laughing. At 9:05 many people in the room had been reduced to tears, others whispered, “Is this really happening?” to no one in particular, and I sat at the back of the room with my jaw dropped out of habit, not so much shock. I’d seen it coming this morning. I think most of us saw it coming, but no matter how much you prepare for it, it’s still a fierce punch to the gut when you hear your company is closing and this will be the last day of employment for most of you.
They counseled us each individually to go more in-depth with the situation and explain severance packages. I am one of the lucky ones. I am 1 of a dozen employees (out of 33) who have been asked to stay until June 30, 2009 to help finish the work we already have and shut the company down. I am not unemployed yet, but I will be in 4 very short months. I’ve already been given all of my paperwork outlining what is expected of me and what I can expect to receive at the very end of this. I’ve never been laid-off before. I’m a little scared and very thankful that I have more than a few hours to figure out how I’ll make my next mortgage payment.
I spent the rest of the day watching two thirds of my co-workers pack their belongings into used and dented cardboard boxes. It felt like I was witness to them all being shot and then drug out one by one. I’ve hugged a lot of them and wished them all the best of luck in everything they do. I’ve listened to some of them break down and wonder where they could possibly go from here, and I heard some of them make plans to paint their houses or take care of their aging parents. I’ve taken phone calls from publishers wondering if what they’ve heard through the grapevine is true and if we’re really closing. I transferred calls as I was instructed, even if meant transferring them to a dead extension. I spent the day going through the motions, saying and doing only what I needed to, and keeping my emotions locked up in the deepest corners of my brain. It’s just too sad to see this company fall.
I don’t know where my road goes from here but I am fortunate to have up to 4 months to map it all out. Like I've been telling everyone else; where there's a will, there's a way, and I have every intention to come out of this almost entirely unscathed.