Laid Off On Vacation – Walked Into an Empty Office on Monday

I worked at one of the largest asset managers in the world as a Financial Reporting Specialist. For the whole month of February I was working overtime, sometimes until 2am, to make sure I (& my team) made our SEC-regulated deadline. Our reports came down to the wire, the wire being my birthday on February 29, 2009. Instead of going out and celebrating with my friends and family as I had planned I went in to the office and worked for 8 hours on a Saturday.

After everything was said and done it was time for a vacation! My girlfriend and I, along with some friends, flew down to an island off of the coast of Honduras named Roatan. It was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. White sandy beaches, crystal clear water, we scuba-dived for 4 days on the second largest coral reef in the world, we rode mopeds around the tropical island hills, we stayed in little wooden cabins out in the tropical hills and hit the bars every night – just the vacation I needed.

We returned to Dulles airport in Washington D.C. at 11pm on a Sunday. By the time my girlfriend and I picked up our car and drove back to our house in Baltimore it was 2am. I had been traveling for 16 hours or so and I was exhausted. I called my manager’s voicemail at 2:30am to leave her a message saying I would be in late the next morning. Her voicemail however said that she herself was on vacation and that if it were an emergency I should call her boss in New York.

Now, being two years out of college, I was not quite high enough on the totem pole to call our big boss in New York and tell him I would be in late the next morning because I was too tired. Instead I just slept in the next morning until 10am and then went to the office with a stress-free, rested and relaxed smile on my face.

When I walked onto the 29th floor of our building I immediately noticed how quiet it was. I walked to my desk and noticed that my entire 8-person group was not there. I thought to myself “Boy, a lot of people must be on vacation this week.” Just then one of the other managers from far down the floor came walking up to me, “Hey Jamie, how was vacation?” he said. I was completely joking when I replied “Great Shane! Hey, where is everyone? What, did everyone get fired?” He looked at me and said “Uh, Yeah, yeah they did.”

I didn’t believe him. I thought everyone must be in the kitchen playing a prank on me, waiting to jump out and share a good laugh. It took 4 or 5 sequences of me saying “Are you serious?” and the manager saying “Yeah, it happened when you were on vacation last Thursday.” Thus I had to walk my relaxed, stress-free smile down to HR and sign my papers and within 45 minutes of being back to work from my amazing vacation I was walking out the door with my things calling my girlfriend with the news. Not quite an experience I ever want to have again, however the H.R. lady did mention how incredibly well I was taking the news. Thank goodness for my vacation actually. If it wasn’t for that, to say I would have made quite the Jerry Maguire scene would be an understatement.

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This post was submitted by James Favata.

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