Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Done and Packed up

Today I wore my Barenaked Ladies thumbs-up Tshirt to work. I've always wanted to wear it. It's a tour shirt from the Maroon tour that my sister's friend Rob picked up for me (thanks again Rob, if you are reading this). I never wore these kinds of things to work, not that I dresses WELL by any stretch of the damn imagination... it was nice to just dress like me.

It was the second hardest thing I have ever done, going in there today. First worst hardest was when I left the college and Jared had a party that night and I got good and drunk on yummy wine and cried the whole way home from the party when I left the guys there behind.

But today... Packing up and driving away... in my mind all I heard was a Jackson Browne song ("Maybe the hardest thing I've ever done was to walk away from you..."). I had to hightail it out of there without seeing FL (he was in a meeting), but at least I wasn't rushed by the company or security as so many people who get laid off are. I was rushed by me not wanting to cry my ass off in front of everyone after being able to look at all this optimistically over the past two days. Once one person cries, I'm screwed.

I spent a good hour and a half there this morning. I started with the obligatory but very refreshing and enlightening one on one with my boss. She went over the reasons for my layoff ("It's not you, it's THEM!) and we talked extensively about keeping open connections, recommendations and the sucky fact that the company decision was so widespread that they seem to have chopped their own feet off. People are emailing her and asking her to do things that other members of my team used to do, and she's unable to fulfill their requests because there just aren't enough hours in a day for her to do all her own work.

Seems to me that they didn't really think stuff through when they whacked our entire department. Perhaps keeping a girl or two there would have been a good idea.

My buddy LLP came in for her exit interview right after me, and on her way in she passed the department head and started bawling. She couldn't handle seeing him. She got to my desk where I was sitting chatting with another coworker LH and our boss, and turned into a puddle. She is taking it very hard. I think I'm taking it a lot better, mostly because I know personally I have nothing to sweat. But seeing her be emotional put me on the crying road, and I had to get out of there very quickly.

It's always bad when not only you leave your core group of really good friends, but you leave the axillary fellows of your daily life behind. People who make a small difference every day, but who you never really realize have a strong impact on you.

For instance, the security guy at the front desk is this older brit chap who always makes me laugh and smile. I carried my box past him and got a smile and a nod, very dignified. But I could tell he didn't look like he was happy to see me go. The elevator ride down with my boss after seeing him almost made me cry, because she looked at me all sad and said "I'm going to miss you so much. Who is going to keep me in balance?" She can be really intense, and when she focuses in on things sometimes people freak out and panic, which makes her mad because what she wants to hear is "we can do this, we'll kick it's ass!!!!" and see her employees do exactly what she hopes for. Sometimes she doesn't communicate things perfectly clear, and the first pass doesn't come out the way she wants it and she gets even more intense, which can freak you out. But deep down I know that the five of us always did our best for her and probably 75% of the time we nailed it and gave her exactly what she wanted. That isn't bad. So seeing her be sad in the elevator -- that almost wiped me out.

Then there's the parking guy, another older, kinda portly guy who walks the lots and gives people directions on where to park and where what office is. He always is friendly and has the BIGGEST umbrella I've ever laid eyes on. He's out there helping out regardless of rain, shine, snow... When my boss and I came out of the building, we passed by him and he muttered, "Aw shit."

I put my box down on the bench and asked him if he was okay. "They got you too?" he asked with just a hint of being pissed off.


I gave him a big hug and he told me he was going to miss seeing me every day. I know that I brightened his day so often stopping to chat with him in the mornings or asking him if he was warm enough with the weather... I wished him the best and had to get the hell outta Dodge before I lost it, that was the straw.

The people who matter in the long run are the people who give you a smile or a wave once in a while. The ones who ask you if you saw the game last night, who hold a door for you. The NORMAL people, who understand that eye contact and a smile go a longer way than hallway evasion and a fancy mother fucking sedan.

So many people at this company and other companies where I've worked have no souls. They may have a family, or some friends, but in the office they are all about business and they are cold, desperate and lonely people. They forge a little core alliance to shelter themselves from the reality that they've built their own tomb in a big brick building.

And I really don't get it. In the end, where the fuck does that kind of behavior get you? You still get laid off, or fired. You may make the company some money, but really. Is it worth it?

I rarely have worked more than a 50 hour week in the last 5 years. Why? Because I don't want to. It isn't necessary. It isn't going to get me into heaven. It isn't going to advance me career wise to kill myself and make myself sick for a company. My happiness, my family, my sanity and my soul matter more than meetings, deadlines and the abject loneliness of being a prisoner to corporate culture. I'm glad to be done there. I am so not sure I'm ready to go back to something though. And this is what's going to make it hard.

I'm really going to miss the security guys, the lunch cash register ladies, the cooks in the cafeteria (I'm going to miss the Chicken Caesar Salad that the guy makes for me just the absolute right way...), the cleaning ladies who I always left cookies for and who always said thanks.

I am NOT going to miss the CEO, the COO and most of the staff in strategic planning and development, the CFO, the CIO... because none of them will miss me or notice I'm gone, because none of them really gave me the time of day or acknowledgment that I existed.

I'm not sad for that, or resentful, they matter nothing to me in the long run. But I may drive by once in a while to hear Milton talk about the weather and chat about the Super Bowl. I'm going to miss that interaction.

My friend Matt once said that he loved washing dishes at a restaurant. He is so bright, talented and intelligent, could be a friggin' professor or a rock star. I kind of laughed at him, I didn't understand why someone with so much damn potential would want to wash pots and pans and other people's dishes. The reason he gave me was so simple - when you are done with the pile of dishes, and you wipe the sink and counter down, you're done. Done. You can go home. There are no new projects, new initiatives, nothing to keep your mind up at night trying to figure out how something can be accomplished. You don't lose sleep wondering if the dishes will work, if they'll crash. They're dishes. You can watch Late Night with David Letterman and Conan, have a beer, and go to sleep. The next day, you get up, you wash more dishes. And again, you're done.

While that sounds tedious, monotonous and boring, it makes sense. Perfect sense. Dishes.

Unfortunately, doing dishes at a restaurant pays total shit. I make a lot more than total shit. So I have to find that job with the dishes element and the money element. But I don't need as much money as I was making, I sure can live on less. So let's see what happens here with working and doing and money and dishes.

People who know where I used to work have been contacting me over the past few days because news of the layoff made it on the Boston TV stations last night and this morning. They're stunned and surprised. I can't say I am. Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to this company.

I made a lot of great professional connections with people there, and I know that it will help me in the future to keep those connections open business-wise. The type of people that worked in our HR group, including and up through the department management and the Executive VP, are exemplary employees, and, are great PEOPLE. It was the healthiest group of people I've ever had the pleasure to work with. Very few political head games, well, hardly none to speak of... and a lot of desire to get work done and grow the company. Such a shame.

Yesterday I had lunch with Ben, Brian, Dan, Michelle and Derek from the ole college, and had a blast.

I'd personally like to thank Michelle for fulfilling a life long wish of mine. No, not lesbian sex. Get your mind out of the crapper, wouldya?

HA HA. itso  funny i makeyou laff milk out you nose. ha ha!I've always wanted to make someone laugh while drinking, and either spit the liquid out of his/her mouth while trying like hell not to lose it, or have the liquid come out of his or her nostrils.

Why? Because I think it is hys-fucking-terical.

Such a reaction means that you said something with the perfect timing, the just right amount of funny, which overrides a person's natural ability to suppress that laugh "reflex" for that fraction of a second, so they lose their drink or force it up their nose. Your joke/statement wins over their bodily controls.

Michelle did just that.

I ragged on Dan, as is my wont, and Michelle had her bottled water up to her mouth and had just taken a big swig. So with her mouth full of water, she reacted to my Dan Rag - water shooting out of her mouth in all directions as she tried to suppress it. Oh my GOD did I laugh. I'm so glad I wasn't also sipping my soda after my quip, or the same thing would have happened to me.

It was priceless. And I'm still laughing my jolly ass off over here from the sight of her pushing her chair back trying to get away from the table. For years I tried to get my boss at the college to do it and came SO incredibly close. The same reaction, chair shoots back, hand over mouth, face turns pink... but she always recovered. I think I did it to her on the very first damn day I was there. And I thought, this is gonna be easy! I found my perfect victim.

But time after time she stopped it and prevented the nose spray and mouth spew. And time after time I was painfully disappointed.

Michelle though, she took me by surprise by doing it. And I'll remember that forever. She's a great sport though, and took it well.

We also went to that subshop near the college and when I walked in the subshop lady was SO happy to see me. She knew exactly what I wanted (and it was gooooooooood too) and she even brought it out to the table to me and hugged me. Next time I go, I am TOTALLY taking her picture for the journal. Could be sooner than later.

My interview which was slated for Friday morning has been pushed back to Monday. That's alright. I'm enjoying my home time. I haven't had a day yet where I didn't have to be somewhere at some point and it's kind of bumming me out. I need to get a hair cut, so I might do that in the morning. I have lunch with FL scheduled, which is great seeing as I didn't get to see him today. Pretty soon I'll have days when I don't NEED to leave this house. I can lie on the couch, drink coffee, watch and rag on morning TV and enjoy myself.

In non-work related news, I took the Christmas tree out to the Christmas Tree Graveyard in the woods behind the house today... Five of them back there. Some lonely, piney old husks, this year's tree looks lively in comparison to the twiggy death frames at the bottom of the heap.

I was on the look out for a quail or pheasant that I spied out of my bedroom window walking up the hill this morning across the creek but saw no sign of him/her. When I got home yesterday from lunch, I heard a total ruckus coming from the creek and thought it was just some ducks or a crow bothering some Canada geese. But this morning Kinger was watching out the window with such intensity that when I followed his gaze I was shocked.

It waddled up the hill on the opposite side of the creek, and there were also two ducks walking up the hill... and I lost track of it in the bushes. The snow brought it right out, and it was huge and beautiful. I totally want to see it again. I'm keeping ears and eyes open and focused on the woods. Wildlife at the way out inn!

Now I have to go and sweep up all the piney needles from the floor, and sweep and mop the livingroom and kitchen. I may as well get ONE goddamn thing done today, jeesh.

More when I've got something remotely interesting to say.

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