I know you’re not supposed to take it personally, but there’s no way around it: getting shit-canned makes you feel like garbage. They can get all corporate, sure, use a saccharinely patronizing tone as they regretfully — so much regret, so so much — “let you go”. Doesn’t change the fact that you’re getting kicked to the curb, your 14 years reduced to a cardboard box small enough to fit in your puny white collar arms.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Technically I still have a few months to go before I’m officially unemployed. It’s this awkward limbo that I find most difficult, I think. I know I’m no longer wanted; I have the papers to prove it. And yet here I am, coming in to work like nothing has changed, except everything has, you know?
“To be irreplaceable, one must always be different”, Coco Chanel once famously said. I’m not above quoting literal Nazis when necessary, but how different can an individual be, really?
There’s nothing inherently unique where labor is concerned. Anything I can do, five other people can do better and cheaper.
I harbor no delusions where uniqueness is concerned. I know I’m dispensable; I work in IT. My job consists of automating tasks, chipping away at the need for manual labor one script at a time.
I would be lying, though, if I said it didn’t hurt. Awareness does jack shit, it turns out. It doesn’t insulate you from the pain of rejection. I’ve always known this day would come; I just didn’t know how devastating it would be.
Now I’m expected to train the people replacing me. “Knowledge transfer”, they call it. Everything you know about this job, they say, distilled into an easily consumable presentation with the documentation to support it. 14 fucking years of my life in one Word document and an hour of PowerPoint. I don’t even know where to begin.
I still haven’t cried. I feel like I should, you know? But I’m terrible with emotions, so instead I’ve been getting increasingly frequent anxiety attacks at the most inopportune times. (Not like there’s ever a good time for one, of course.)
The bottom drops out from under my feet and suddenly I’m 10 again, drowning in a pool in some nameless resort in Laguna. It’s hard to breathe, sometimes.
I know I should be professional about this, put on a brave face and keep playing like the orchestra while the Titanic sinks. I should move on. I should dust my feet off and keep going. I should be strong, I should survive.
Should, should, should, when all I really want right now is to lie down and listen to sad songs and not move for the next thousand years.
I’ll figure it out, eventually. It’s not like I have a choice. The world keeps spinning and I either spin along or find myself thrown off the fucking ride.
Not today, though. Just not today.