"Fire Friday;" That was the catch phrase we used for the last day of the work week in our dwindling company when a manager would swoop in, at the very last minute, and, lay off another unsuspecting worker.
It was said in jest every Friday morning, yet, underneath, there was a hidden panic we all shared, but, never talked about. The mere thought of having your income cut off in such a shaky economy terrified us all, even more so, because, we all knew a salary that had taken years to build in the unstable field of construction, would be virtually impossible to replace at this time.
So, the tense expressions consumed our faces every Friday morning as we piled through the back door and politely greeted each other before scurrying into our empty offices trying to look busy before management's watchful eyes fell upon us.
It was a HORRIBLE feeling that I felt for a very LONG two years....
Two years of watching the clock and the door and wondering if today would be my "Fire Friday." It was a heavy sigh of relief, week after week, as the axe fell and missed me. Yet, my heart would literally break for others as I saw the looks on their faces and said my many tearful goodbyes.
By Monday, I would push the notion of losing my job to the very back of my head and distract myself with anything to occupy my time. Then, slowly, it would creep back to the surface by mid week and boldly taunt me all over again.
I knew it would happen eventually, but, like the rest of us, I was hoping to just buy some more time. I would tell myself I was well liked and I had dedicated eight years of my life, 40+ hours a week, to this place. I had volunteered for everything and I'm sure they have recognized my strong work ethic...That had to mean something, right? Well, it did, for awhile, but, I knew they weren't going to keep paying me because they liked me! It was a very obvious and harsh fact that we were not selling enough houses and even more cut backs were inevitable.
So, when my phone rang and the call was coming from my boss' office at 2:45 PM on a Friday afternoon, I should have known to expect the worst. However, I walked into his office still not expecting to hear THOSE words come out of his mouth. He could barely look at me as he softly informed me that he had been told to let me go. "Hmmm," I thought, "so, THIS is how it feels." I wanted to make him feel guiltier than he already did...I wanted to yell or plead, but, neither were my style. Instead, I left, I found a box, and, I quietly started packing up my belongings, so, I could slip out the back door unnoticed. I did not want the tearful good byes or pep talks. Nope, just let me get the hell out of here as fast as I can!
Then, a coworker and friend, who was in upper management and knew of my lay off, stood in my door way. Her eyes were on the verge of tears, and, I could tell she didn't know what to say, but, wanted to comfort me somehow. Okay, so, maybe I did want a little sympathy and was secretly glad that she was there to console me!
She and my boss helped me carry out my belongings, we hugged, and I got into my car. I looked at the building for the very last time and slowly drove away as I was still trying to take it all in. It took a good minute or so, for the severity of my situation to set in, and, my hands began to shake. I pulled off onto the side of the road and told myself to just BREATHE! You have survived harder things than this!
I had always taken a back road to work. It cut through the country and I loved taking in the view before walking into my office. Now, I was sitting there, on that same road, trying to figure out where to go from here. Then, I began to look around and realized I was in a place that had always brought me a sense of calmness when I needed it.
I put down my window and felt the breeze on my face as I looked at the pine trees that wrapped around the lake. There was a beautiful silence here. It somehow managed to escape from the bulldozers in the distance and I really appreciated the soft hum of nature that was very hard to find in this town. It was at that moment that I realized I was going to miss this more than the life I was about to leave behind. Despite the heartache I had just been through, the world didn't look any different. The sun was still shining, the birds were still singing, and I had a lot to fall back on.
When one door closes, another one opens, right? I just hope I can find that OTHER door fast!