Five and a half years later, the uncertain road ahead is back. I woke up yesterday, a bit earlier than usual, and performed my regular morning routine. I commuted 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 stated 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 to be bad. My manager started 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 continued with a bit of detail about my last day and some other stuff I don’t remember. Then HR took a turn and give some details about severance, benefits, and paperwork. Then, HR asked if I have any questions. This whole process probably took less than five minutes. I was still trying to process “terminate.” I asked a question about health insurance to stall and give me some time to try to come up with something I really needed to know. Nothing came to mind. HR hung up. I spent maybe another fifteen minutes just talking with my manager. He was trying to be very understanding and let me go on as long as I needed 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. I was reassured, but none of it really changed my reality. I suspected this day was coming, but I figured I had another six months and hoped it would be a few years. In any case, whenever this day arrives, the news still feels like a smack in the face.
I left the conference room and walked back to my cubicle. I still couldn’t wrap my mind around it all. I saw my co-worker, who had his 1:1 just before me. He didn’t look too happy. The same thing must have happened to him. He didn’t know that I knew. I only knew because I went after him and my manager was allowed to tell me. He didn’t know about me. We didn’t make eye contact. After a few seconds, I headed to the restroom. When I got back a few minutes later, he was gone. I think us not talking at that point was for the best. I don’t think either of us was ready to talk it out. I checked my phone and see that I had eleven minutes before the next train home came. I wanted to be on that train. I didn’t want to be around for an additional 30 minutes with the awkwardness of wondering who knew about my situation or who else might have been in the same situation. I grabbed my backpack and yoga bag and threw all my personal belongings into them. I didn’t have much. I make it a point not to personalize my work space, so it does not hurt as much when layoff day comes. In less than a minute, I was done. I walked briskly out the door, because now I was worried I might miss the train. I thought to myself that I would really miss the people here.
I got the train, sat down, and quickly took a few parting pictures of my building as the train passed. This would probably be my last train ride to this place. Then I sent a text and broke the news to my wife. It would be hard on her too. I was so grateful I had her. I tried to process things the rest of the way home. The hour and a half commute passed in a daze. Thought after though flew into my brain but nothing really happened with them. They just came and were bumped out by the next thought.
When I arrived at home, this was when the reality started 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), and no more socializing on the commute. What about insurance, and what about house hunting. I explained the details to my wife. We spent 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 (not related at all but she was working on them). 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, do photoshoots, put my photography site back online, do house repairs, do yard work, and of course, do 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. 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 part 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.