Monday, February 21, 2011

Surgical Removal

The lovely HR girl moves through the terminating procedures with practiced precisions, that of a skilled surgeon removing infected tissues - a tumor - from an ailing patient.  In this case, the company (or more precisely its profit growth) being the patient, and me, the tumor.  Or perhaps I am just a tumorous cell in a once healthy division that had outgrown itself, its usefulness that is.

I roam around the halls thinking through my exit strategy while my eyes wander.

The halls are nearly empty, they have been for weeks.  There are the beginnings of spiderwebs dancing in the fading afternoon sunlight,  a dance without the lightness and cheers from the accompanying music or songs.  An eerie quietness grew from emptied and darkened office spaces that were once the source of so much liveliness, banters and spontaneous ideas,  echoing the sigh of terminations but recalling a different page in the story from not too long ago, written by busy feet running to and fro, filled with meetings, chalk talks, lunches, celebrations and bring your kids to work days.  Now all you hear is the sound of that page torn from the book, of jagged edges trying to flap in the remaining stale air and settled dusts, but fail at it.  It was not long before even these final pieces of dusts and papers are swept away by a cleaning crew whose mission was to remove all evidences of what once was.

I field calls and visits from well wishers while packing up a few remaining items.  Two labtops are to be returned.  Bumps and bruises aside, they were the blood line that connected this cell to the rest of the body, once healthy and pumping happily around the clock, until it is no more.  Now they wrap up those half baked dreams, still warm blood and salty sweat into a few thousand documents and programs, tucked neatly into their tiny sleek cores, ready to be shelved somewhere in the supply closet, for good.  I logout, shutdown, and close their lids one final time.

It occurs to me that perhaps I ought to cry.  This place had been like a home to me, sadly many times more so than my real place of residence.  My virtual office accompanied me through ten years and countless number of sleepless nights, early morning conference calls, changes of strategies and several near exhausted melt downs, both for me and some on the team.  But we've failed, at what I am not exactly sure.  Perhaps there is not a failure of how, but what is, where, being the wrong kind of cell, growth and accelerated efforts could be doubly counterproductive and speed you toward the predetermined destination of being surgically removed.

But the salty pricks of tears never arrive. My feelings are so jammed it really is like a seasoning shop has cracked open inside, bitter, sweet, sour and pungent all rushes forward to express itself yet no one gets through for the crowding just blocked the narrowest channel known as emoting at work.   I attempt to send a goodbye note, yet I remember back when I was reading them from others, I'd thought "this would never happen to me" and laughed at the melancholy of their tones.

Take it easy, I'd always reply, not thinking the effect this would have on the departed.  What was I thinking?  Take it easy, on what?

I'd spent my life here measuring myself in the eyes of others.  So I couldn't help doing that one last time today; even though I fully understand the silliness and futility in it.  How will they perceive this note?  If I were reading it as a recipient, high on my corporate chair of security and superiority, what would I get out of it?  Do I want to sound like a loser crying my way out?

I decide then that I do.  More than anything I want to say that even in a place that centers on success and victory, that focuses on progress and milestones, and tolerates no losers, I could still pronounce dignity in failures and rest, maybe even more so than in success, and the difference could just be how it is pronounced.

I finish everything and turn around to look back at the graying building shrouded in the afternoon shadows, the sun has almost set.  I begin the walk away but notice a group carrying boxes walking in, their cars neatly filling up those front spots that had been emptying for weeks.  Their easy chatting and laughter brought life and colors to the concrete everything that surrounds us, so all are taking on the rosy hue of the resting sun, reflecting that vibrant color you find on newborn's cheeks.  They walk in and settle into offices, immediately bringing an end to the hollowed cries of spiderweb dances.

A new group moving in, and thus the beginning of another story to be written with renewed hope and trajectories.  Perhaps it will be a story of triumph this time, I can already see it in the road ahead of them, as clearly I see it in mine, a new beginning that is, as I turn and walk away.

Tears flow then, freely for hours while I sat in the car waiting.


  1. Vivid, sad, powerful and open.

    I was very moved reading this beautiful but raw description of an ending/departure.

    I hope you are okay.

  2. My response to this is too complicated to really put in words. Thanks for being brave enough to put this out here. I hope I can figure out what it is I'm wanting to say about it other than that.

    Also: be well.

  3. You have quite a gift. Toward the end, I felt like crying with you. I had to read the first paragraph over again, because I didn't go into it with the right perspective the first time, but once I adjusted myself, the rest was just beautiful.

    (Thank you for visiting my blog.)

  4. Just to clarify, you got laid off? Or did they disband your whole department?
    Having said that, excellent writing. And hope you are okay.

  5. My goodness Shopgirl- how are you weathering all this turmoil? You wrote so beautifully about this, with such understanding. No bitterness. Amazing, and a really nice piece.
    I hope you are well. :)

  6. SFW - I always wanted to say the same about your writing, so I'm honored to hear your feedback, such positive ones too. I really look forward to read more from you too.

    C.N. - I always feel like I did OK when I hear from you so don't worry about finding the right words. Though I am flattered by that.

  7. Nessa - Thanks. I admire your writing so it's great to hear from you. I have been having trouble with beginnings especially on these longer more complex pieces(to me they are). You are definitely not the first one to mention it so thanks for the feedback.

    Barbra - Not sure what to say but thanks for commenting and I am OK.

  8. Jayne - I guess I am holding up. It feels a bit like one after another but I suppose I believe something great is in store after all these. It's how I look at it? Thanks for visiting again.

  9. I'm touched by the honest grit of this, the way it's both heartbreaking and inspiring. A new beginning for you, indeed. Take good care of yourself through all this transition. And thanks so much for stopping by my blog. It's good to meet you, Shopgirl.

  10. I am moved by your words and experience. You have really captured this moment so honestly and vividly, with such wisdom and maturity. You truly have a gift. I sympathize with your loss and I wish you the best in what lies ahead. Thank you so much for visiting my blog & for commenting.

  11. It is hard to feel like you gave your best and then find yourself packing up. Something good is coming your way, I just know it!

  12. Gosh, I don't know what to say except that I am so sorry to see what has happened and to read about such a loss! I hope and pray that your prospects take a positive turn very soon.

  13. Leaving a job you love is like ending a meaningful relationship. It hits you in the strangest ways.

  14. A beautiful post even though the subject matter is so hard. It is such an honest post that it pulls on every emotion. It brought me to tears.

  15. Rachel - Sweet of you to visit and comment. Thanks!

    Seré - Welcome to my blog, I am glad you noticed that bit. It really is for me. Thanks for stopping by.

    Jade - I could use all the wisdom right now and a bit more after that. Thanks for your kind words.

  16. Barbra L - I know it, thanks for saying so!

    Leonora - It's always great to hear comments and yours is always especially warming. Thanks for taking the effort to do so.

  17. Sally - that's very insightful and so true in that there is a 'love and hate aspect' in both.

    light208 - I guess it did for me too. It did help to get it out there and over with. I didn't know what I was in for when I started this post honestly.




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