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.