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.