Log Out and Go
I worked for seven years as a copy editor and sportswriter at a smallish daily newspaper.
One night while I’m at the desk, my boss stops by my desk (on his way out to the casino or the bar, I’m sure) and asks me to come in to work an hour early the next day. No explanation why.
So, next day rolls around and I come in, put my coat around my chair, log on my computer and start building pages and opening copy to edit. About 20 minutes later, my boss walks up and tells me, “They need to see you in the executive conference room.” Uh oh.
The experience of walking from one end of the newsroom to the other, where the executive offices were located, was oddly exhilarating. Looking back, it must have been sort of like what the walk down the final mile to the electric chair must feel like for a death row inmate. On the way, I pass my boss (who had walked ahead of me) and the managing editor. Neither look at me, say a word to me. I see them around town. I’ve never said a word to them since.
In the conference room, there’s a guy I’ve never seen before and seven manila envelopes, face down, on the table. This is one of the newspaper’s lawyers. He takes one of the packets and goes through the spiel of laying me off. Or should I say, “guiding me through this reduction in force.” They offer me a choice: severance of what ends up being less than six months pay or unemployment. One or the other. No insurance extension. No help finding another job.
I’m in such shock that I just walk out, leaving my coat at my desk. The pink slip gives the day’s date as my final work day, so, a couple hours later, I drive back to the paper prepared to finish out my last day. At least I can close out my newspaper career with dignity.
I type in my door code. No dice. They’ve already wiped out my door access. I have to knock on the door to get someone to let me in the building. I go back to my desk and get back into work. I hear quiet discussion coming from the desks behind me, but I don’t pay attention. I’m focused on work, trying not to think about what has happened. A few minutes later, another editor, a guy I’ve known for literally 10 years walks up to my desk. He taps me on the shoulder and tells me, “You need to log out and go.” It was the coldest I’ve ever heard him sound and it was like a sucker punch. They weren’t even going to let me finish out the day.
I gave a short, defeated so long to the two other guys in the department that night, grabbed my coat, and walked out. I’ve never spoken to anyone from the paper again.
I’m back in graduate school, working for half my former salary while trying to establish myself in a new career.
This post was submitted by Eric Farquharsen.