It took me all of five minutes to fuhggedabout the previous eight years.
When the company CEO breezed into my office, shut the door and delivered what he called “bad news,” I bit my lip hard so I wouldn’t break into a smile as wide as a Kansas wheat field. Due to the changing needs of the firm, Mr. CEO explained, my position was no longer needed.
This wasn’t bombshell news by any means. I’d spent the past year employing the George Castanza method of productivity (act busy/frazzled even though you aren’t). Since the firm wasn’t rolling out any new IT initiatives, I didn’t have much to do. In fact, I didn’t have anything to do. But nobody knew this. I put on an act that would’ve made George proud. Dazzling even myself, I lived my sham for over a year.
The people I worked with are not idiots and I knew that my position would end. Nevertheless, I continued my theatrics, all the while remaining the same gregarious and eager-to-help professional that the entire firm loved. Canning me would be slightly uncomfortable for the Board of Directors, but certainly not impossible. Because I was a convivial employee, I knew they’d treat me kindly.
So I faked both surprise and dismay, accepted the CEO’s hatchet work with professional courtesy and gave his hand a firm, goodbye shake. He popped out of his seat and disappeared down the hall. My emotional breakdown would be ugly.
When he was out of sight I closed the office door, let out a big goofy smile, and silently mouthed, “Oh my GOD!!”
This was an absolute dream come true!
Somehow, the universe had aligned perfectly and given me the ultimate escape route. While my “job” was fine and I truly had no major complaints, I’d been dreaming of change for the past year. But the nice paycheck and ample employee benefits held me hostage. Nobody in her right mind would simply up and quit a perfectly good job – definitely not in this economy.
Nothing shy of a swift kick in the keaster would propel me out the corporate door. And certainly I’d done my best to provide a large target. Now, finally, the universe had found its mark – and provided a nice bundle of unemployment benefits to boot.
Could life get any better?
Before he fled my office, the CEO had gently explained that I could select my last day of work – there was no hurry. He’d given me one month of severance pay, allowing me to leisurely put my files in order, clean my office and tidy my electronic trail.
Surely I’d want to gather my personal effects and “collect myself.”
Take your time, he offered.
I’d been quietly and methodically preparing for this last day. I’d been slowly taking my personal items home, one at a time, not drawing any undue attention from my coworkers. I’d wiped my computer clean of all personal correspondence and I had a thumb drive ready for any last-minute downloads. My work files were organized and correctly stored.
I looked around my office. There was simply nothing to do.
I placed a few sundry items in my briefcase and slipped into my jacket. As I closed my office door, I was keenly aware that I was doing this for the last time. I understood that this was the last walk down the hall. The final trek down three flights of stairs. I heard the fat lady sing and her voice was beautiful. I exited the backdoor to the building and emerged into bright, mid-morning sunshine. I felt like a kid starting summer vacation.
I was now an official unemployment statistic.
And I couldn’t stop smiling.