That Time When My Job of Seven Years Broke Up With Me

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I lost my job on Thursday, so between the breakup and the unemployment, I’m now one dead dog short of a country song. Much like the breakup, the layoff was both so obviously coming and so completely unbelievable that I’m still having a hard time deciding how I feel about it.

I got this job more than seven years ago through a temp agency. I was originally skeptical about the fact that it was at a software company and turned it down, but then the agent told me I could wear flip-flops to work, and I was sold. I showed up the first day in a skirt and blazer and then wore a t-shirt and jeans every day after. And yes, non-stop flip-flops. It was an office of forty men and, like, two women, and the entirety of my job as an office manager was to stock office supplies, take checks to the bank, and cut cake for the birthdays we seemed to somehow be celebrating multiple times per week every week. My manager was a German guy who vacillated between calling me into his office to watch videos of puppies skateboarding and telling me I wasn’t worth the money he had paid the temp agency for me.

Luckily, his job became “redundant” a couple of years in when we were purchased by a larger company, and then all of the executives in my office became redundant, and then I got a series of new managers in places like Connecticut and Chicago and Massachusetts who each visited to check up on me exactly once. I became close friends with all of the guys in the office, and we started taking summer vacations together. I began a second blog and then a third and then a fourth. I had meandering phone conversations with my best friend and day-long IM sessions with everyone else. A TV was installed behind my desk, and I listened to eight hours of “House Hunters International” and “Property Brothers” or whatever else I wanted every day. I met Kamran for long lunches at steakhouses and brasseries. I moved into a dreamy apartment with one of my co-workers. Another co-worker taught me Photoshop, and I started a photography business. I supported hundreds of meetings and training classes. I met every single person who came into the office. I gained an intimate knowledge of inkpens and recycled paper and shopped office supply sites religiously for deals on soda to stock our office fridge. I loved that job, both for the actual work and for the fact that it paid me for doing my hobbies most of the work day.

Unfortunately, the company was based in Canada, and it was trying to move everyone to the head office, so people who left my office weren’t replaced, and the entire customer support department was eventually laid off. This year, we got down to a total of ten people coming into work on a good day. And then the highest-ranking guy moved to the new office in California, and people started asking me what was going to happen to the NYC office. We were all the way downtown in the Financial District and had an amazing view of the Staten Island Ferry and the Verrazano Bridge, and I’m sure the rent wasn’t cheap, but the company had moved in right after 9/11 and got a discount for being willing to give the area a chance, and people who had been there longer than I had thought our lease was at least through 2016. So I was dreading the idea of having to pack the whole place up in three years, but I never thought anything worse than that would happen. But then my manager announced early last week that she was coming into town, and I got a little worried but thought maybe she was just visiting all of the east coast offices. But then I figured out that she was driving straight down to me from her home in Massachusetts. And then she arrived and started asking way too many questions about how I run things around the office. And then she started locking herself in the conference room and making whispered phone calls. I was dying to just straight-up ask her if she was there to fire me, but I appreciated that she’d driven down to tell me in person and didn’t want to make her uncomfortable.

And then she laid me off with an HR person over the phone who told me over and over that it had nothing to do with my performance and everything to do with them not needing an office manager for an office of ten people. I didn’t cry and I didn’t cry, and my manager touched my knee in compassion anyway. And then I started crying and didn’t stop. Imagining not seeing my friends every day. Imagining having to find a new job that couldn’t compare to that one. Imagining being just another person who dreads going to work. Having my phone taken away from me. Having to pack up seven years of shoes accumulated underneath my desk. Thinking about having to move back to Ohio because I can’t afford to live here anymore.

Having to stay home from work on Friday felt like punishment. But then I went for happy hour with my co-workers as usual and didn’t feel like crying anymore. And then we had a busy weekend, and it was time for Jack to go to bed, and I didn’t have to. And then I started feeling like I was on vacation. And then I started feeling like maybe I just won’t get another job. And then I remembered that oh yeah, my severance will eventually run out. And then I started freaking out again.

So part of me thinks that this is the end for me, my luck finally ran out, and now I’ll spend the rest of my life miserable. But part of me feels like this is only the beginning of the rest of my life, and maybe I’ll get a new job that ticks even more of my fulfillment boxes. Because as we know, everything works out for the best for me in the end. If I’m lost, it’s only for a little while.

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29 Comments

  1. Serial says:

    I am so fucking glad you don’t have a dog.

  2. Deb K says:

    Serial’s comment is hilarious. You seem to have encountered a growth phase of your life which is my code for surviving any major life trauma. I’m very sorry about your losing your job. I hope with your network of friends you find something else that doesn’t suck very soon. I have very low standards. Can you tell?

  3. Tracey says:

    I feel so bad about all of the times we joked together about how it was only a matter of time, since your job seemed too good to be true in so many ways. But I suppose 7+ years is a heck of a ride. You have immeasurable talent for finding cushy jobs, though (ahem, COSI), so I have no doubt things will work out.

    I sure like that possible move back to Ohio you threw in there, but when that happens, I want it to be because you ache for home so badly you WANT to come back, and not because you feel like you were forced into it.

    • Katie says:

      Etty,

      I am so sorry that you lost your job!

      And to Tracey, I say shut your mouth woman! While this is not the way I wanted to get you back, I will take you back anyway I can get you!!

    • Tracey says:

      P.S. I told KN today that I said this to you, and she yelled at me for not encouraging you to come home ASAP no matter the reason.

  4. Noel says:

    I sincerely hope this is the beginning of something wonderful for you! I also kind of hope you move to Ohio so we can legitimately hang out more than once every 1.5 years or something.

  5. Kinard says:

    This is the universe saying that some of that severance needs to be spent on a plane ticket to SC and a few days on the beach.
    The universe is also saying that you kick ass and you can take it, shake it up, and make it bigger and better.

  6. bybee says:

    Oh, Katie. I don’t think New York can do without you, so they’ll have to come up with a new job for you.

  7. Julie says:

    Maybe you should move to Houston?

  8. bluzdude says:

    So sorry about this… losing your job totally sucks, and I know from experience. At least you have some time where you can sharpen up your resume and throw yourself into a job search. At least you should have a solid block to include with your last job, as well as solid references.

    Good luck, Katie, I’ll be rooting for you!

  9. Sarah says:

    That Tracey friend of yours is terribly intuitive and wise; I knew there was a reason why I liked her–so what she said, and Kinard as well. The universe does have a way of making a person grow whether they want to or not–so it’s either your time baby, or you hung out with me too long and there was something in the temple pickle….mwhahahaha…I know you’ll find exactly what you need next…I just wish I were there to finally take you to lunch at Govinda’s, where I’m sure divine inspiration awaits. That, or “my own personal cheesecake factory” is open for the remainder of my Ohio visit….just sayin’.

  10. thickcrust says:

    The most upsetting part of this is that you were denied the great joy of quitting that job. Maybe now’s the time to come to visit Portland. After all, it is where young people go to retire.

  11. Sandy says:

    Darlin, you and I are in the same boat with everything right now! I should move to NYC and become a tough teacher a la MIchelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds.

  12. caropal says:

    Goddammit. I don’t check your blog ONE DAY while I’m at work, and you post this.

    Your life is magical. This sucks, but it’s just setting you up for something better. This is your plot twist; turn into the skid.

    Either that, or come visit me and hang out at my rooftop pool for the next couple of weeks. That would be fucking awesome.
    XOXOXOXOX

  13. Anne says:

    Katie – So sorry you lost your great job. I lost my sucky job last Thurs. as well. You’re young, you’re connected, and you’ll find something good soon. I’m sure you will survive…and with severance pay, no less. Lucky girl! We can wish one another luck in the job search.

    XOXO to my library friend

  14. Tessa says:

    Email me your physical address, please.

  15. Dishy says:

    Oh Katie.. I can’t say how sorry I am for your loss. BUT – this now FREES YOU UP ENTIRELY to become a full-time writer. Which, darling, if anyone in this world was truly meant to do, YOU WERE. This post, and the last several have literally brought me to tears. Your words are so succinct and bittersweet and .. perfect. Please know that even when things seem bleakest (or at least dim) a door is opening on the horizon. I know this from painful experience, and I can attest to its greatness. LOVE YOU BABE! Hang in there. I’m thinking of you – and it’s all good. XO

  16. Erin says:

    Man … what the hell.

  17. Jill says:

    Ah jeez! Eff you, 2013!!!

    If you ever want to visit Austin, let me know. You’d probably like it here. :-D

  18. Kim says:

    So I guess I’ll start the camp in favor of you NOT moving out of New York for any of the wonderful places mentioned in comments above.

    You don’t need to move!

    Being poor in New York is great)! It’s romantic and writer-ly (no, it isn’t)! Obviously I don’t believe either of those, but I’m also prettttty confident that you’re going to be able to find employment without much difficulty.

    So sorry to hear this, though. Your work situation really was a dream, and I was still pretty sure I’d get to see your paperclip holder and four monitors someday.

    In my experience, the beginning of the layoff/unemployment was AWESOME, though. So I guess just try to relax and enjoy the break while severance is a thing, and then we’ll all look forward to tales from the new workplace.

  19. Andrea says:

    Jesus. JESUS. When it rains, it pours.

    Also, I kicked the neighbor’s dog in your honor.

    Also, I think you’re good at faking being a badass and will land another job super fast.

    Also, if you want a fake reference to tell a recruiter how much you rock my face off, I’ll be happy to tell them how I once sat in on a training session you taught, which was so life-changing that I went out and cured some goddam cancer.

  20. Lindsay says:

    That so, so sucks. Been there, but I hated my job that I got laid off from. And it was the best thing to happen to me as it forced me to move out of my parents house and move to a city that had lots and lots of odd jobs. DC adventures ensued. Now I’m home again but have a better understanding about where I’m headed. Luckily, that’s out of my parents house again and on to London!

    Also….I seriously love your first line of this post. Go get a job doing social media-type stuff. Or work for Google, I hear they’re pretty cool haha. But please stay in NYC, as I am very selfish and love reading your posts about life there.

  21. Jessica R. says:

    Geez.

    I’m so glad you’re in Puerto Rico right now, hopefully drinking, giving the world the finger and embracing your new clean slate.

    Here’s to the best new job ever!

  22. Lisa says:

    I’m sorry to hear that. Glad you had your Puerto Rico trip right after, and hope you find something new — and more awesome — soon!