There are times in my life (lately with alarming frequency) during which I'll realize what date it is and find my brain in a groggy, disconnect, as though I have just woken up from a late afternoon nap, confused at the darkness outside. It could be morning, it could be evening. I feel panicked that I am not doing something I should be doing or meeting someone I've made an appointment with and in complete disbelief that I've arrived at such a late date in the year, utterly without ceremony or even an x-ed out calendar square to mark the days that came before.
If we are friends on Facebook or in real life, you'll know already that I was let go from my full time job after six years. Well, about 5 years and 361 days. The rumor mill was on hyper grind the past six months or so and each day as we got closer to the end of the semester, the more broken down and piecemeal our futures seemed to get. People were stressed, nosy, snarky and back-stabby. On more than one occasion, I heard tell of people crossing the great divide of that great divided building to come into the library to speculate about how we should all look for jobs. We were dunked, forcibly inside an ice cold tub of speculation. I tried to allay it by staying in my little windowless office for six months but it came to me. It floated on the echoes of all those gossipy sirens, marooned behind their desks with their little singsong desires to see people crash into the rocks with all their belongings in a lidless cardboard box. Toward the end there we may as well have started a pool; at least the ones who got voted off employment island could have had a monetary prize to take home and cry into.
In the end, I was one of ten who got called up to a room with two young executives who had business cards and business suits and business eyes. I saw them and just thought "You are the Dischargers." They could've been comic book villains, thwarting everyone who is too comfortably settled in their job with separation agreement and a cackle. They wore grey suits and wedding rings and slick hair and clean-lensed glasses. They spoke in hushed tones and, had my life been the movie I've always suspected it was, the song playing in the background of this scene would have been "Karma Police". It would begin at the most appropriate lyric:
Karma police, arrest this man
He talks in maths
He buzzes like a fridge
He's like a detuned radio
And, after just one jargon filled, initial here and here, we're really sorry but it isn't you it's us hour, I walked out of that room with an escort. It was a long walk. I'd been punctured in a small but significant way and I felt myself deflating in the silence of the elevator. I threw all six years of my things in a box and as I said goodbye to my coworkers, I cried, but only because loss is always unexpected, even when you see it coming.
I suppose it is a rite of passage of sorts, getting laid off. I hope this works on a quota system because mine is filled. I'd love to expound upon the next phase of my life but there is only a big old TBD stamp on its face, obscuring all the relevant text. I've sent out a million resumes, gotten in touch, lit the fires. I still have my part time job which is populated by the nicest, most generous and caring people I've ever worked for and they have given me extra hours and expressed concern about how I'm doing on a daily basis. Long term, I just need a job. It doesn't even have to line up with my career, such as it is/was, it just has to line up with my direct deposit. And now I wait.