I still remember that day so clearly. The day I was laid off….
The moment I stepped into the building I had a weird feeling. An unusual uneasiness. I felt like something bad happened and I don’t know about it. The lobby was empty and didn’t understand why it seemed a bit dark, even though all the lights were on. I checked my watch. 8:20 AM. Very few people come this early. Usually everyone comes around 9:00 AM. With that uneasiness I took the stairs to go to the second floor, where my cubicle was located. While passing the corridor, I tried to ease myself by thinking that I always have this feeling when I come back from a long vacation. As I don’t talk to my colleagues when I am away, I feel like something terrible happened in the mean time. May be I have been laid off and nobody told me because I was in a vacation or may be my supervisor has excluded me from the big project I was supposed to work on or may be they are really pissed off as I went to a vacation. That was the first day at work after I came back from 2 weeks of vacation. I went to see my sister in Toronto. I had awesome time there. We had so much fun. This was the first time I went there after I started to work and I was there after two years. So, I was happy, I was proud, and I was feeling self-dependent. I got a lot of gifts for my nieces, my sister and my brother in-law. Also while I was there I bought whatever my nieces wanted from me. Well, my sister was not very happy with the spoiling, but I was really happy to see my nieces after long time.
As I entered the second floor, the uncomfortable feeling kicked in again. I noticed Dave’s room was dark. Dave usually come to the office around 8 AM and leave early. I turned and saw that the door of Norma’s room was ajar. I wondered why her door was open, as she was in maternity leave and the room was locked for last few months. I came to my desk and I was the only one on the floor. I checked my e-mails, but the anxiety was not going anywhere. So, I took my purse to go to the cafe to buy something to eat. In the stairs, I met our Director, Ralph. I smiled at him and said, hi. Surprisingly, he didn’t smiled back, was blank for a moment and then asked me how was the vacation, and quickly passed me. On the ground floor, while leaving the building, I met Iant. I said hi to him, and there was a pause. I said something again to him about holding the door, then he said, “oh hi.. yeah, sorry”. I was wondering, really, what happened to everyone?
With that unusual feeling, I bought a muffin and came back to the office. On the second floor, my cubicle was located just outside Ralph’s office. When I was passing by his office, I saw my boss Anthony was there, talking to Ralph. Our eyes met, so I gave a nod and smiled. Anthony quickly looked away without smiling back. I came back to my cubicle and that moment I knew something was not right. Then I realized Anthony and Ralph were coming out of the room, and they stopped in front of my cubicle and said, “Samantha, do you have a moment? Lets come to the meeting room to have a chat?” I quickly took my diary out of my usual professional etiquette and replied, “sure”. In the meeting room, I sat beside Ralph and Anthony took a sit in front of me. I saw on Ralph’s hand there was an envelope and a card. I knew the logo of the card. It was the wellness and counselling service card for mental health, which comes as an employee benefit. And I knew what was going to happen.
Ralph started to talk, “Last week was the toughest week of the history of our office. Because of low oil price for this long, our primary clients and oil companies decided that they won’t spend any more money for research purposes until 2017. That’s why we had to let go 25% of our employees, which is 21 people”. I looked down and said, “and I am one of them”. Anthony said, with a sympathetic voice, “unfortunately, yes”. I sighed. They said some other things too, who else were laid off, not to lose hope, there will be many opportunities in next few years, as a severance I will get one month salary and I have one month to finish my works…. blah blah…. I wasn’t paying attention anymore… I don’t even remember what was I thinking. When Ralph said, “if you want to go home, we can call a taxi for you”, I then remembered that there was a lot of work to do, specially the work that had been piled up while I was away. I calmly said to Ralph, “thanks but I’m alright. I need to finish a lot of work, I want to complete all my responsibilities before I leave. Plus, I also have to work on the conference paper which is due next month”. Anthony quickly said, “we are not sure if we will be able to pay your conference fee”. I was really surprised this time. The conference was going to held in our city, so only payment would be the registration fee which was few hundred dollars. Also, I knew my paper holds some very important results that directly interest oil companies for new investments. My boss already mentioned many clients about the results of my paper and they were interested to get a project proposal based on the results. So when my boss said they won’t pay for the paper, I didn’t know what to say. Ralph said again, “you sure you don’t want to go home?” I said, “no, I am fine, and you said I have one month access to finish my work, so I would like to work today”. They said, sure and left the room. I came back to my cubicle and unlocked my computer. I looked up to the computer screen and realized that everything had changed in last 5 minutes. The computer, the chair, the desk was not same anymore. The cubicle was not mine anymore. I looked around. The photo of me with my husband in the corner of my desk seemed out-of-place. I looked at the wall of my cubicle, where I stuck a drawing, a cartoon of me, which I drew few months back, portraying how stressed out I’m with all the works and deadlines. The cartoon seemed so unrealistic. I snatched it from the wall and started to squeeze it. I felt like I can’t sit there even for a moment. The place was not mine anymore. Everything started to look strange. An overwhelming sadness started to engulf me. Before realizing what was I doing, I took my coffee mug, the muffin, and my angry bird toy car, put these in my bag, and stormed out of the building. First I thought I will take the bus then realized that I don’t have the patience, so I called a taxi.
After 20 minutes, I came home. I went to the bedroom, changed my cloths and called my husband and said that I was home. He said were you feeling sick? I said, no, I was laid off. He was shocked, didn’t know what to say, then I told him everything. He said, “okay, no problem, take some rest, you need this”. Yea I knew I needed that…..
My angry bird toy car is still in my purse… I havn’t taken it out yet. This bird is my friend, whenever I need one.
P.S.: I wrote that conference paper with my own initiative and my own money. I know that they will use the paper for many proposals. But that doesn’t matter anymore. Because I am proud that I have completed it.
Day 38 of 100 Happy Days: My Angry Bird