Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
~Ephesians 6:13 New International Version (NIV)~
So, I’m sitting here in my new living room watching old episodes of The Good Doctor in between hanging pictures and organizing things. A hundred thoughts are rolling around in my head as I try to make sense of where I am and how I got here. I have been sitting here looking around and wondering what to do next. Not only on the long list of unpacking duties that have been plaguing me for the past few days, but on the list of things that you have to take care of when the rug has been pulled out from under you. You see, last Tuesday I was set to take a couple of days off work so that I could get my things moved from one apartment to the other. They had discovered a serious mold issue and I needed to vacate the premises. So, in a flurry of activity, I had arranged to move across town into a new apartment. That day, I had a meeting on my calendar with my boss; it was just supposed to be our regular 1 on 1 meeting, so I didn’t think twice when I messaged him and asked him where he wanted me to call. I work from home so sometimes we use WebEx and other times we just call each other directly. Our meetings are usually just a touch base in case I have some questions for him or he has a project for me. Generally, these are very non-eventful, and we talk about life for the first ten minutes before I give him a re-cap of what is going on for the week. This time, however, there was a very serious tone coming through in his voice and within the first minute he announced that our HR Director would be joining us on the call. A wave of panic set in as the call proceeded.
Quite out of character, my supervisor began speaking in a very stern voice. He was obviously reading from a script, as he had never sounded so serious in our previous conversations. The next thing I knew, he was saying, “I’m sorry to tell you that your position has been eliminated.” I couldn’t speak. I’m on the other end of the line just trying to breathe, but my breath caught in my throat and all I could do was shake my head. After several moments, I said, “What? You mean, you aren’t even going to put me in another position?” Someone, I’m not sure who, spoke up and said, “That’s not an option at this time.” I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing at this point. The shock hit me like a truck. I had just celebrated my five-year anniversary and I’d never had a bad evaluation or even a disciplinary meeting. I knew that there were going to be changes in the structure, but my team hadn’t been included in the initial round of those changes. And as I tried to process this, it occurred to me that if my job was being eliminated then my co-worker was getting ready to hear the same speech at his next meeting with the boss. But I was told not to share information about my termination with anyone until after the next day’s team meeting. I was also told that although my last day wouldn’t officially be until the following week, I didn’t have to return to work and that my access to the network and so forth would be revoked by noon the next day. In my mind, I said, “Wait, what if I want to finish out my last week?” Evidently, that wasn’t an option. So, I spent the night worrying about my co-worker, who had a new baby and a wife to take care of. I was sure he would be okay because he was a young man who was quite intelligent and capable of learning new skills. I resolved to message him the next day to see if he was okay.
A few days and a very grueling move later, I am plagued by the idea that I should fight back. They had caught me while I was preoccupied with having to move out of my apartment and in my naivete, I had thought that the layoff would be for everyone who held the same position. Instead, to add the proverbial insult to injury, I learned through the grapevine that I was, in fact, the only one who had been let go and that my younger, male co-worker had been given my responsibilities…in spite of the fact that I had seniority. So, now, on top of being exhausted and in pain from the move and blindsided by the “layoff,” I also felt betrayed and hurt by the two individuals in the company that I had trusted; my supervisor and my co-worker. And on top of everything else, my daughter’s sixteenth birthday was coming up that weekend and I now had very limited resources with which to buy any gifts or even get her a cake.
If I didn’t know that God had my back in this, I don’t know what I would do. I’ve gone through every emotion possible over the past several days; everything from shock to sadness to anger to determination and the thing that stands out for me is that these people thought they could offer me a severance package of six week’s pay to make up for the five years of my life that they have wasted. They never intended to allow me to move up or even sideways in the organization. They used me, made me feel like I had no value, and then threw me out like so much trash. And I’m not sure I can just let that go. I’m pissed. I deserve better. I have always deserved better and I don’t see myself taking a couple thousand dollars as consolation for such a vigorous slap in the face. They say that they are all about people and that they care what happens to their employees, but this isn’t true. They don’t give a rat’s ass about anything but creating an atmosphere where the top tier reaps the benefit of the hard work of the other few thousand. They use them up like Kleenex and if you ask questions or show any kind of dissatisfaction with their decisions, they roll you out of the car at about 85 mph. That’s where I’ve spent my last five years. No wonder I feel like I’ve been in an abusive relationship. It’s like living with someone who regularly beats you up and then coming home one night only to be told to get out. I wouldn’t put up with that out of a partner, so I am surprised that I allowed this place to do so much damage.
I intend to do what I can to fight back. As I get my life back in order, I will be doing everything in my power to at least stand up for myself. It really doesn’t matter what the outcome is; the point is that I will never allow anyone to treat me this way again. And I will not be quiet, nor should I.
Stay tuned. It’s about to get real.