Friday, November 14, 2008

Cannery Row

Just like the people who run turkey farms, my company decided that to turn a profit they needed to chop some heads before Thanksgiving.

It turns out I’m one of those heads, and I have to tell you, I may just skip the bird this year, out of sheer fellow-feeling.

When I got in to work this morning, they were celebrating someone’s 20th anniversary. The security administrator had brought in doughnuts and muffins and, as usual, everyone was encouraging me to have some. Because of a wheat allergy, I don’t eat that stuff – it gives me gas – eye-watering, room-clearing, bio-hazardous gas. So, as usual, I declined.

We had thought the layoff might come today, because earlier in the week someone had noticed that our HR rep’s calendar was completely blocked today.

At 9:00 o’clock my boss came by to say he’d been called into a mandatory meeting in the CEO’s office at 9:30, so he was pretty sure he was gone.

At 9:37, we noticed his truck was no longer in the parking lot, so I ran a search against Active Directory and, sure enough, his name came up deleted. As we were sitting around, grumbling about how much that sucks, I refreshed my screen, and there was my name, also marked as deleted.

This made me start laughing, because I have an inappropriate sense of humor (more about that some other time) and my co-worker said, crossly, “That’s nothing to joke about.” I assured him that I wasn’t joking.

You know, I kind of wanted to get riffed, because I wanted more time to write (in addition to this blog, I have a novel I’m working on, and another that I shoved in the drawer a few years ago and have been meaning to get back to. And ideas for a couple more). And I knew my husband and I really couldn’t afford for me to just quit, but if I got laid off, between my severance package and unemployment, it might buy me enough time to establish a writing career that I could later supplement with a part-time job.

But as I was laughing, I was also feeling shock. You know how, when you strike a gong, the vibrations spread outward in waves? That’s how it felt – like someone had slammed a sledgehammer against my chest, and the reverberations were radiating out to my fingers and toes.

I took a couple of deep breaths, then packed up my desk and waited for them to walk me out.

And all I could think was, I should have eaten the muffin.


  1. What a way to find out.

    I was running the same search and wondering if it were possible to hear the bullet with your name on it. I guess it is.

    A coworker got word of your boss while in a meeting with me and some others. There was a pause, then someone said it sucked, and the meeting ended on that dissonant note.

    Your name popped up on the search a short while later, and that made it real for everyone. DB said "wow". After that we tried to make light of our own anxiety with jokes and calling dibs on each other's equipment.

    You really should stop reading these comments, now, and get to work on your writing. I'll be checking your blog and the best sellers list for updates.

  2. From a safe distance, Mr., Horton doesn’t like working for other people either. Someday he will share his “Idiot Theory”. It is based on the idea that each of us knows at least 3 complete idiots, and the high probability that we each could be someone else’s idiot.
    Good luck as the road unfolds.

    Inspired Daydreams of Success

    Adriana Lima came close beside my bed.
    In fishnet shades of youth and film

    She stopped beside my head.
    And I in my piety gave up the ghost for dead.

    Up on the cliffs where lovers leap
    And singers sing out loud

    Where voices type in sentences
    Enwrapped in life's thin shroud

    Where cereal is flat with milk
    and spoons are without work

    Until the raisins all jump in
    And breakfast starts to perk.


  3. I second Warren's comment: what a way to find out! So shocking.

    I'm tempted to ask if this is a result of our economic downturn, out-sourcing, or just poor management?

    I'm sorry you lost your job. But I'm glad you'll get to spend more time writing.

    When are you going to tell us about your novel?

  4. Mr. Horton -- I definitely know more than three complete idiots...though I'm certain that I cannot possibly be anyone else's idiot!

  5. The layoff was a lot of different things, mostly a very old company attempting, not too gracefully, to adjust to a changing world.

    Look for a future blog entitled, "Ten Best Ways to Destroy the Company You Love" for a retrospective on the topic.

    Anyway, thanks for the supportive words. I spent my first day as a full-time housewife today, and I really enjoyed it. If it weren't for the darned money thing....


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