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When My World Died

On July 16, 2019, I was downsized.

My manager came down the hall, asked me to a "meeting", walked with me to the conference room where out HR person and division director were waiting.

In my heart, I wish to give that division director a grander title. He is a friend. A person who I care about a great deal. But that day, at that moment, that was what he became. That was all he was.

He read the script. I was no longer employed. Severance. Sorry.

I begged. I pleaded. I asked for any alternative to this. I failed.

I had only spent 35 and a half years helping to build the company that I had been working for.

And on that day, I was given the truth of corporate America: I was not worth snot.

Roughly, maybe, two months before, our prep department had a flood. Yes, a flood. A pipe had burst. In the wee hours. It was arrested early, but not before about a quarter-inch drenching of the entire floor.

I came in that morning at my usual time, 5:30am, and had one thought: grab a mop.

To be clear, my job at the time was as a software developer. My job was was to help write software to help our customers. Not just the customers that our company sold business to, but also our internal customers: my fellow employees. People who I cared about and whose jobs I wanted to make easier.

And I was really good at that.

Really, really good at that.

But that morning, all of my programming ability was useless. My knowing where to locate the mop bucket nonetheless proved useful.

There were certainly greater heroes that day. The guy (Jim) who knew how to use the giant-shop-floor-water-sucker-mopper-thingie did most of the heavy lifting in the rescue affair. But I did my best with my mop bucket.

The majority of the disaster was contained within two hours. After that, all that was left was only a little dampness that everyone who eventually showed up for their daily job was able to deal with.

Said director showed up on scene. He saw me. He thanked me. He shook my hand. I commented something exactly along the lines of "that is what our company does."

He got it. He got me. He already and for a long time has known me to be to be that guy.

Two months later: he is firing me.

I can't lie. My heart was broken. I felt like I had died.

Really. I had no road. No way out. No direction.

I had spent my literal entire adult life working for the company. I have very few memories in my life that aren't about that company.

I was that company's employee when I turned 21. My 56th birthday happened 9 days after I was terminated.

I feel regret. I feel shame. I feel like I failed.

I failed.

I was supposed to carry the banner. I was supposed to be the beacon. I was supposed to assure everyone left that I would still represent everything our company was once all about.

I failed.

I was ceremoniously downsized. Complete with my badge and my login account being disabled before I could even walk out of the building.

Shamed. Disgraced. Ostracized. Useless. Worthless.

I spent a literal lifetime at that company. My career was older than most of my former coworkers' ages. I've watched fellow coworkers marry, have kids and then grandchildren while we worked together.

...

To my former coworkers: Love. All of it. Forever and everlasting.

A mis antiguos compañeros de trabajo: Amor. Todo ello. Por los siglos de los siglos. (Y por favor perdóname si esa traducción fue horrible... Por favor sepan que los amo y los respeto a todos.)

I ache that I no longer get to see all of you every day. That was truly the best part of my job: that I would get to see all of you and wave at you and talk with you and be one of you.

Duele no verte todos los días. Esa fue realmente la mejor parte de mi trabajo: poder verlos a todos y saludarlos, hablarles y ser uno de ustedes.

...

I struggle with, well, everything. I wake up and have nowhere to go. I think of friends and coworkers (pretty much the same thing) and miss my life. My routine. My old job.

I wake up. I wash, I dress. I usually go to the mall to walk. Many days, I go to see my therapist or my grief group, then go to the mall to walk. (10,000 steps a day, minimum.)

I hope and expect to reenter the world of the living in a month or so. It's a process... It's a thing...

...

My former company's founders chose their time. They got to prepare. They got to make their peace with their choice. They walked away as heroes. As well they should.

Two of my fellow old-timers also got to do the same.

I was practically led away in handcuffs.

Shamed. Disgraced. Ostracized. Useless. Worthless.

Which is why I am in therapy three times a week. For now...

I am a work in progress.

When I'm ready, I'll rejoin the job market.

When that happens, you don't want to be nearby and you for damn sure don't want to be going up against me...

I have pity for any company that does not get what I have to offer. I will truly hate it for them when they miss out on having me.

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