Part of an occasional series of personal accounts by readers. Rodney Curtis, 46, says he "got the ol' heave-ho from the Detroit Free Press on Friday. Actually, it was pretty humane." Following is his stream of consciousness as the process unfolded.
Am I getting a gold watch? Wow, the HR lady’s kinda hot. Breathe, Rodney, breathe. They all look so sad; make 'em laugh. Ha, they liked the gold watch joke. That guac from the party’s gonna go bad if this takes too long. Push Spiritual Wanderer, push Spiritual Wanderer. What does COBRA stand for? Joke about stealing pens. Don't tell 'em about Sharpies. Top boss banters with me about there not being ink in the pens. Phwew, Sharpies are safe. Breathe, breathe, breathe. This is it. This is the end of the career.
How long does guacamole last in this heat? Gotta buy a lottery ticket. Seriously, listen to the COBRA spiel. Keep the humor up. Do I hug? If one, then everyone. Top boss reflects on me correcting his tip during our dinner interview three years ago. Says he knew he'd hire me then and there. Should I correct him about something now? They look so serious. Oh, oh, HR lady is nervous; shaky hands give it away. Humor, jokes, feign interest in Employee Assistance program. Do COBRAs bite or squeeze?
Remember to thank sweet daughters for helping me cry earlier so I don’t now. Do I sign something? Hey, you forgot to take my ID card. It's ending. Career and this exit interview. Guac's probably a goner too. It’s hot. Maybe it's the HR lady. Breathe. Why are they looking at me? Should I say something? Is it my turn to get up and sing? Do I leave? What do I do? Take bull by the horns. Start hugging. Surprises 'em. Ha, hot HR lady says she wants one too.
(Hours later, more Mexican food. Guac's fine.)
Curtis is a recovering photo editor, and a writer. Sample chapters from his new book and new life at www.SpiritualWanderer.com.
A look in someone's eyes. A cardboard box on an empty desk. A final conversation. Please share your layoff story in three or four paragraphs. Post replies in the comments section, below. Or e-mail via gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.