Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two Boxes

What a difference a day makes. Monday January 3, I was happily employed, enjoying a well deserved day off with my wife. We caught a movie, Happy Potter 7 (Pt 1), and went to Home Depot to look at some models of commodes for the upstairs bathroom. We discovered a leak below the bathroom and knew we wanted a new seat anyway. I had just wrapped up the most successful year at my job, and worked right through the holiday to deliver the results. In general, this day was great for us to be together, talk about changes in life with the baby coming, and spend some time with just us.

Tuesday, I woke up refreshed and ready to hit the ground running at work. After all, I had a busy 2011 planned and really wanted to make an impact at work. Walked in the office early, as usual, and noticed all our directors in the conference room...not a normal sight. Actually, an almost never seen before sight...worry set in. I thought, OK if they're making changes, maybe this can work out for the best, stay positive. I turned the corner to walk toward my cube, and blammo, the next strike, a co-worker had his office closed with two empty boxes outside the door. The walls closed in a bit. I shed the winter coat, and turned around and there was a director asking if I had a minute. What if I said no, that thought came and went in a flash, and then the hammer dropped. Office closed, life changes in the exchange of two boxes.

The first thought that crossed my mind was how to call my lovely wife with this news. She was carrying our baby, and the last thing I wanted to do was stress her out. I collected myself, dialed her number and... voice mail. Crud, can't leave this news on a voice mail. She was now my only priority and I had to be gentle. I left a message something to the effect of "Hey honey, give my a call, it's important." I started removing reflections of myself from the cube...pictures, quotes, motivational items, fortune cookie messages, a dollar bill from a friendly bet with a coworker...now former coworker. Former, that really isn't settling in at this point. I packed a few more random things, pens that were mine, calculator, just junk. I couldn't wait and called the wife back and she answered. What a humbling moment for me. Whether society has programmed it or not, I felt like I was letting my wife and future child down. The wife was kind and gentle and hurt for me, she is such a sweet person. I know I told her, her and the baby were #1 priority, and I would land on my feet somewhere, somehow. The HR director was as kind as he could be, and helped me carry my two boxes.

Immediately after, I met for coffee with some former coworkers and we talked about what just happened to us. The rest of the day I can't remember one thing I did. It's a difficult moment to try to justify what happened, not personalize being cut and make sense of it all. It took a few days, and may still be underway, but I'm not sure there is sense to be made. I do know that after the twelve months the wife and I had, I wasn't about to make this into more than it was. I have a child on the way, and a world full of opportunity in front of me. I'm doing my best to take a deep breath, and in the immortal works of Douglas Adams, Don't Panic!

Anger, fear, embarrassment, jealousy, bitterness and resentment are emotions that can fill up a person in this world. Events like a layoff can sow the seeds of these emotions in the proverbial boxes were carry from place to place, and job to job. I will chose positivity, humor and love to fill my boxes. Even if I only get my two boxes to fill in this world, mine will overflow.
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