Five and a half years later, it is the uncertain road ahead again. I woke up yesterday, a bit earlier than usual, and did my regular morning routine. I commuted in to work as usual, except my friend, who was also headed to the train station, saw me waiting for the bus and gave me a ride. Things were seemingly normal at work. I went in for my weekly 1:1 meeting with my manager, and he said that he had bad news and HR was on the phone. These are two things you generally do not want to hear, and combined together, it is guaranteed you do not want to hear it. My manager starts reading some legal sounding text to me that ends with “terminate your employment.”
Wow, what a splash of cold water in the face. My calm, ordered world turned upside down. He continues with a bit of detail about my last day and some other stuff I don’t remember. Then HR takes a turn and gives some details about severance, benefits, and paperwork. Then, HR asks if I have any questions. This whole process probably took less than five minutes. I am still trying to process “terminate.” I ask a question about health insurance to stall and give me some time to try to come up with something I will probably really need to know. Nothing comes to mind. HR hangs up. I spend maybe another fifteen minutes just talking with my manager. He is trying to be very understanding and just lets me go as long as I need with the conversation. I just needed to talk to try to deal with the situation. A few more details come out: it wasn’t his choice, nothing I did to cause it, I have done a great job, this sucks, and other stuff I have heard before. It is reassuring, but none of it really changes my reality. I suspected this day was coming, but I figured I had another six months and hoped for a few years. In any case, whenever this day comes, it still feels like a smack in the face.
I leave the conference room and walk back to my cubicle. I still can’t wrap my mind around it all. I see my co-worker that had his 1:1 just before me. He doesn’t look to happy. The same thing happened to him. He doesn’t know that I know. I only know because I went after him and my manager was allowed to tell me. He doesn’t know about me. We don’t make eye contact. After a few seconds, I head over to the restroom. When I get back a few minutes later, he is gone. I think us not talking is for the best. I don’t think either of us was ready to talk it out. I check my phone and see that I have eleven minutes before the next train towards home comes. I want to be on that train. I don’t want to be around for an additional 30 minutes with the awkwardness of wondering who knows about my situation or who else might be in the same situation. I grab my backpack and yoga bag and throw all my personal belongings into them. I don’t have much, because I make a point not to personalize my workspace, so it does not hurt as much when layoff day comes. In less than a minute I am done. I walk briskly out the door, because now I am worried I might miss the train. I’m thinking to myself that I will really miss the people here.
I get on the train, sit down, and quickly take a few parting pictures of my building as the train passes by. Probably my last train ride to this place. Then I send a text and break the news to my wife. It will be hard on her too. I am so grateful I have her. I try to process things the rest of the way home. The hour and a half commute passes in a daze. Thought after though flies into my brain but nothing really happens with them. They just come and are bumped out by the next thought.
When I arrive home, this is when the reality starts to come. No more seeing these friends, no more yoga classes at work, no more working on this product, no more long commute (I hope), no more socializing on the commute, what about insurance, what about house hunting,. I explain the details to my wife. We spend the next few hours talking. We did a little job searching. I brought up that I might want to try a different industry or field for better job security. We briefly discussed finances. She talked about emergency preparedness kits. Ha ha, she has been working on updating ours and that is what she was doing today. I started thinking about all of the things I could do with my time between jobs and quickly created a way too long list: edit pictures, photoshoots, putting my photography site back online, house repairs, yard work, and of course, a lot of yoga :).
I plan to take a few days to just let different possibilities and thoughts come my way. This will help me see all the pieces of this puzzle, and then I need to put the puzzle together. Yes, another uncertain road ahead, but I am very fortunate. I had a nice job for over five years, I met some great people, I learned some new skills, I get a nice severance package, I get a break, and I get the opportunity for the next adventure. Will it be better? Maybe or maybe not. What I do know is that how I approach and go into it will be a big pat of how good it is. I did not choose to leave the other road at this time, but I can choose where I go next.