So the day I got laid off was, in a way, the last day in a whole long, uneasy season of getting laid off. It dawned on me that I was one of the casualties the afternoon I sent a rare third follow-up email asking for my boss’s blessing on my Thanksgiving vacation dates. I wanted to get my flights booked. Again, he didn’t respond.
— Ashley Fetters, “The Anxiety of Waiting to Be Laid Off”
Ashley Fetters’ clue was not getting an email returned.
Mine should have been the Army-Navy Game.
I was working in an office, trying hard, but struggling, the reason for which — my not being very good, management making the job too difficult, some combination of both — being something the various parties are obviously going to have different views about were we to ever make contact again.
But regardless, management wasn’t especially happy with me. There had been things-need-to-improve-and-soon discussions. Things really didn’t look good around Thanksgiving, but I got a reprieve, temporary though it turned out to be.
It wasn’t what I wanted to be doing, and I didn’t really like it — to the point of staying up as late as possible Sunday nights because the next time I woke up I was going to work — but it beat working at a grocery store or the mall, which I had been doing.
I believe someone in our office had a group of season tickers for Army football, which is how tickets to the Army-Navy game wound up being the prize in a contest in our office. I worked in a different department and wasn’t part of the contest, but at an office gathering the week before the game, one of the bosses was announcing who was being invited to go, including the other person in my department, who was standing right next to me.
The boss looked right at her while saying her name, and then, after a pause that really should have been the clue, said, almost as an afterthought, “… and Bill.”
Sure enough, the next morning … noon meeting in the office manager’s office. I knew. I was getting fired.
It went quickly. There wasn’t much point in trying to defend myself — that wouldn’t have been taking the personal responsibility required in the office when your boss told you how much you sucked — although when my supervisor said I was to leave at the end of the day, the office manager (who had hired me for a different position nine or 10 months earlier) had the decency to suggest that she let me leave immediately.
After a round of goodbyes, which drew a dirty look from my now-former supervisor (enough time has passed and I’m doing well enough that I’m not bitter, but … yeah …) I was gone.
It all turned out well in the end. They gave me unused vacation pay as a severance, which they didn’t have to do, and that got me through Christmas.
It also forced me to buckle down and find a job doing what I wanted to do, which happened in January. Next month, it will be 20 years, 15 with my current company.
But after all this time and multiple promotions, I still don’t like being called into my boss’ office.