Friday, October 9, 2009

Plan A, check!

It's been in the works for three years and just this week I pulled it off. I truly felt as if I accomplished something. I felt proud and relieved as to how well the plan worked - I got laid off from my job.

Now, I know in this economy losing a job is not something to do the happy dance about, or walk around the office with a big smile on, or even accept congratulatory praise for -- but I did. I had been hoping and wishing for this to occur ever since my company published the terms of its severance package several years back.

Sitting in my office, I would imagine what it would be like to be compensated for time off. I thought about all the things I would do to fill my day - more writing, more gym time, more sleeping, maybe audit some classes, maybe see what the divorced women in town were doing during the day. It became a goal, actually somewhat of an obsession, to lose my job.

Of course, I could have just tried to find a new job and exit this mess respectfully, but if you haven't noticed lately -- the job market really sucks. And I didn't want to rush into something new just to get out of where I was currently. I didn't want to make a rash decision that I would regret, kind of what I did when I took my current position originally.

No, my plan was to get the package and use the fear of the complete unknown to force my brain cells to figure something out. I work well that way. Again, I know I could have done this while at my current job, but I didn't. I was handicapped by the time I spent trying to look busy at work. I didn't have enough emotional energy to focus on the "me" plan.

I know, it's lame, but you weren't there.

As I mentioned, the plan worked perfectly. I brought it down the wire with seconds to spare and achieved the end result I was finally looking for. I have counted my blessings a number of times in the fact the plan was not brought to final conclusion any earlier than it did.

I often think of what it would've been like if I actually left a year or two earlier. I could've been sitting out there much longer than my severance package covered. I know a few people who that's happened to. Scary.

But it wasn't for a lack of trying. I remember telling one of my managers early on that I wanted the package. I was laughed at. People didn't take me seriously. What kind of fool wants to lose their job?

This fool did. But instead I got promoted. I had to be accountable for more projects and more people. I know, "wah, wah, wah." But I hated my job. I hated the whole concept of where I worked and what the place stood for. I hated how unchallenging and how poorly managed things were. But I liked the paycheck. Wah, wah, wah!

This past week was especially difficult because the end of the week marked the official close of the known severance plan. Rumors on the new one didn't look good. It was not as generous. In fact, it was supposed to be down right awful.

I didn't sense any change occurring. I didn't read in between the lines on any conversations. I didn't think anyone even knew about the looming deadline, so when I saw my boss for a catch-up lunch this week I was totally surprised to hear him say, "Sorry, but we've decided to eliminate your position."

Sorry? You had better be sorry for keeping me on pins and needles for so long. I had already resigned myself to slogging through another year. A year of trying to pretend just to keep some sanity amidst the mindless projects that would be occurring. Do you know I spent 6 months on a project team of 12 people discussing through weekly meetings how staff should order business cards???

Yes, the waiting was too long and too close to the edge. But those sweet words rolling off my manager's tongue filled me with such elation, I forgot about the anxiety I had put myself through. My sentence had been commuted. I was free to leave.

"Again, I'm sorry to have to do this," my manager said somberly. "It's not performance related. It's just economics and I will be happy to give a recommendation if you need it."

I'm sure he thought my wide stretched grin was just a cover up to the massive amount of tears pouring out from within. He probably thought to himself that this guy is really trying to hold it together. The poor guy is probably just going fall apart once I leave.

"And, you should be expecting a call from HR to go over the details. Again, I'm sorry about this," he said.

I just nodded. I wanted him to leave as soon as possible. I wanted him to cut short the comforting words shit. I wanted to check my voicemail to see if HR had called already.

I brought the grin down a notch and saw my manager to the door. I thanked him for everything. I didn't want him to think I found this whole thing funny. I didn't want him to think I actually felt more sorry for him because he actually had to stay at the company.

We bid farewell and then I quickly checked my messages. Nothing. This was just one other thing I hated about this place. Everyone is so slow. You have to nag people to get things done. So, I called over to HR.

"Hi, how are you?" I said happily.

There was silence on the other end. I don't think HR is used to being greeted in a friendly manner.

"Um, I'm okay," the voice responded finally.

"Great. I'm in the neighborhood and thought I'd stop by and pick up my paper work. You know, save you the trouble of bringing it over."

"Um, okay."

I needed my hands to be holding that packet of papers as soon as possible. I didn't want to risk any chance of them pulling back this offer. I had already come too close to the deadline. I didn't want anything to get in the way, especially an incompetent HR department or a morally ethical boss.

I was giddy with delight as the HR associate took me through paragraph by paragraph the essence of the 12-page exit document.

I kept interrupting. "How much am I getting paid?"

"We're getting there," he responded.

"Have you done a lot of these this week?" I asked with interest.

"We have done a fair share," he responded as if he was a mortician.

"How about you? Who would do your exit interview? I mean, would it just be one of your own colleagues or would you just do it yourself?"

"Can we just get through this document," he said curtly.

"Sure. By the way, when will the money hit my account?"

"We're getting there!"

"Okay, okay. Do your job," I said.

I could hardly contain myself. I had felt as if a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders that day. I did not foresee a grim forecast out there. I saw an opportunity to explore a new path. I was not afraid of the future. I was embracing it.

Of course, having a healthy severance payout that should keep me afloat for at least a year certainly helps grease the skids.

And I'm well aware how quickly that may go by. So beyond some of the daily things I would pursue each day that I mentioned above, I will also put aside some time to do some job hunting.

Yes, I will be practical because under this joyful exterior I am mature. I am cognizant of the difficulties that I may face, and so I will also be putting Plan B into effect - get wife to get new job that can accommodate the lifestyle I have grown accustomed to.


  1. Don't think about what's going to happen in a year from now. Just make every day count.

    Count how many TV sitcoms you can watch in a row... Count how many icy Coronas you can polish off in an hour... that sort of thing.

  2. Count how many hours you can spend on breakfast. Count how long you can surf the internet without accomplishing anything productive. Count how many emails you're suddenly NOT getting. Count how long it takes the phone to ring again....and finish the damn screenplay!