Recently, I was coaching an individual who lost her long-time position. As part of the coaching session I asked her to write her story. This is “The Day They Let me Go.” You need to read this and thanks to the author for letting us into your emotional space.
The Manilla envelope.
The Impromptu meeting.
That sinking feeling in my stomach. This is what I had prepared for – the worst. But even sitting in that office that day, I reminded myself…there is always something worse…
My kids…my kids are coming here after work today. How fitting that the last day I walk out of the place I’ve worked for 11.75 years (16.75 with the company), I am fortunate enough to be greeted by their joyful faces and have the unwavering support of my husband.
I thought you had to have your hand held as you walked out the door (aka be walked out). They said, “It was me…and that was not necessary.”
My position had been eliminated. My ankles were swollen for the first time in my third pregnancy that day…fate is a funny thing. That day was the 5 week countdown to my due date. But did they eliminate the position, or did they eliminate me? All of the words that were said out loud stated that it was the position, but all of the voices in my head kept asking if it was me. “No”, one of the voices said…my job is duplicative. Two people are not needed to do what one person can do. I’ve been here forever. I was prepared for this to be the outcome, and so I took a deep breath. I couldn’t speak about it to the few faces that were left in the building. After all, the meeting was at 4:30 on a Thursday. And the impromptu meeting was called at 2ish pm. There was no Outlook calendar invite. There was no verbal direction provided as to the location of the meeting. Just, “Can you meet with so and so at 4:30? Without hesitation, I said cheerfully, “Yes!” The caller replied, “That was fast…”
I tried to say goodbye. One of the worst parts of this “process” is the lack of closure. There is no Congratulations cake…no card is passed around for all to sign, no Best Wishes banner hanging on the wall of a too small conference room. So that’s when I said goodbye to one of the people I admire most…and I was a little shocked when I found I couldn’t speak. He was worried since I broke down in front of him and I was able to say through those deep hyperventilating like breaths…“It’s okay”…then I finally got out the words…”My position has been eliminated. I won’t be back tomorrow.”
They didn’t take my name tag. I took it off as I loaded up my car, the most precious of cargo already buckled in her car seat. I thought, “Well…what am I going to do with this?”. They didn’t take my office keys. I tried to give back my company phone. It was denied. “Keep it”, they said,”…we have been informed that we are not collecting them as a part of this.” I drove away, knowing that the short ride was going to be a long one to my next destination.
Cotton candy ice cream was the main course for dinner that night for my jubilant daughter. As I sat in the hospital café across from her awaiting her “How to be a Big Sister” (again) class that evening, I leaked out a few tears as realization set in that I needed to tell her that I wasn’t going to work anymore, that it would be okay, and that it would be different from now on. But I knew she didn’t care about that part, she just said something about how she wanted me to be okay. And I point blank told her, “Yes, thank you for being so caring…I am okay and I will be okay…”