My Loud and Prophetic Mouth

My friend/ex-colleague just posted this on Facebook:

When they tell you “HR is looking for you”:

RH

It was a Tuesday in 2013, I think, in a year of my Mexican Life. I had just settled at my desk, my direct supervisor asked me to make sure I submitted as many invoices as possible, as month end was fast approaching. As I opened my programs to start paying phone bills, human resources IM’s me and asks me to go down to the 4th floor to see them. When I asked why, they told me they couldn’t disclose the reason. A few weeks before I had snapped and published a picture on social media of a co-worker I absolutely loathed leaning back, feet propped up, reclining comfortably in her chair. I figured the picture had finally made its rounds and I was going to get in trouble for it.

When I arrived to HR, the woman asked me to take a seat as she dialed into a phone meeting. She then asked me the correct pronunciation of my highest supervisor’s name, and if it was a man or a woman… I should have told her the wrong answer, but still reeling from the unknown nature of what was going on, I simply offered up the information, feeling a sinking feeling from it all.

As you may be able to suss, I was faced with bad news- in a global restructure of the company, my job was deemed redundant and I was being let go. Nevermind the company had only just sent me on a business trip to the US, never mind that my supervisor had just seen me Friday afternoon and acted like she hadn’t known anything was amiss.

Mind you, one of my team leads was pressuring my co-worker and I find more mistakes, save the company more money so they would save our jobs and not send them to India.

“Miranda,” I said in a matter of fact tone, only four days before HR had me in their clutches “I’m from Michigan. I heard the last GM second shift alarm sound in downtown Lansing. I saw the ruins and rubble that looked worse than parts of a war torn country sit for ages blocks away from my apartment in the US. Companies always want to save money, and it’s never enough. When they want to get rid of someone, they will and that is that. It’s game over. If they want to send my job to India, they will. The end.”

5th floor

5th floor, happier days.

And there I sat, ugly crying, begging the team supervisor to tell me why she didn’t have the decency to tell me to my face on Friday as she left my days were numbered, or what I could have done to prevent this. Honestly, had I known I was going to get a boot to the ass, I would have just stayed in the US a few weeks and vacationed and partied with friends I had there. Instead, I was faced with uncertainty and no job in Mexico.

“I wasn’t at liberty to disclose that information to you at that time. Again, there is and was nothing you could do to stop this. This choice was made at the highest levels to save the company money (they never did send my job to India, only shuffled my responsibilities to my co-workers in the US) and it’s not personal. I’m sorry.”

I was being let go to save money. I WAS BEING LET GO TO SAVE MONEY, BECAUSE OF COURSE I WAS. ME AND MY LOUD AND PROPHETIC MOUTH KNEW ALL ALONG.

Never mind the fact that the company pays for the cell phone, landlines and internet at MULTIPLE addresses for the CEO. Never mind that if you do a quick google search on the CEO, it seems  that in 2014, he earned a total compensation of US $21,931,769- this including a base salary of $1,865,769, an annual bonus of $5,500,000, and $9,816,000 in stock options. I HOPE YOU CHOKE!

But I was being let go. Little old me, a woman who made less than $35 USD a day was getting canned. Fuck you, big business. Fuck you, stupid CEO’s and fat cats who have work pay their internet and land lines at their city apartments, country homes and beach/vacation homes.

I wept bitterly, heaving and sobbing, and the HR woman looked concerned. I had to surrender my badge immediately and was to go to the secretary of employment to sign papers, in processes that were completely foreign to me, in a country I had never had a real and important office job in before. I asked the HR woman if I could get my purse, she said yes. I cried harder when I told her I couldn’t get onto my floor without a badge. She hastily handed me hers, and asked me curtly to hurry.

In a teary eyed haze, I made my way to my now ex office space. My co-worker saw me and asked me what had happened, with a look of fear on her face. I started crying again and she started crying when I told her and we hugged and cried. I took my purse and went back to HR. In a strange twist, a very good friend of mine faced the same fate, losing our jobs on the same day. We rode together and he held my hand and stroked my head as I cried. He only chuckled, resigned to his fate with dignity, probably also savoring the idea of a hefty severance pay check he would surely be given shortly.

After the papers were signed and we were to go back to collect our things, I felt a sudden burst of audacity. I decided to try to appeal to the HR woman’s sentimental sensibilities. “Mirthala, I know we weren’t supposed to, but I saved pictures from my grandmother’s birthday party on my work laptop…May I save them when we get back?” My voice cracked, and I began to cry, though I wasn’t sad at that point anymore.

I saw in the mirror as Mirthala pursed her lips in thought, and conceded me my request.

“Oh, and can I go buy a memory stick down the street? I don’t have anything to save them on…”

“Fine. Hurry before I change my mind.”

I arrived back to the building, with a memory stick in hand, calmer, also somehow resigned to my fate, but also in a bit of a zombie brain fog. Mirthala was called down to fetch me, and she escorted me to my old work station. “Do not get into your mail, work files or IM. I’m going to smoke a cigarette.”

She stepped out on the balcony and I proceeded to save the obscene amount of albums, pictures and personal files I had saved over the course of three years on my laptop. As requested I signed out of IM, though my screen had over 20 IM windows flashing, as my friends got the news of my departure, surely asking if it was true or something.

Bye bye for now, kids. I closed all the windows, I closed my Outlook. I closed all the files. I wasn’t going to jeopardize saving the new Justin Timberlake album my friend had just shared with me.

My co-worker, looking out for me like the MVP she is, scooped up ALL OF MY THINGS and put them in her drawers. In the past, people who had been let go had simply not been allowed access to their things until HR had shuffled through them and taken what was rightfully property of the company. In an effort to prevent that, she grabbed everything while I was at the secretary of employment. I was allowed full access to my things, however and when Mirthala tired of watching me throw away the remains of three years of hoarding and discretely asked me to get her when I was done. (It also took forever to save those albums… I MEAN THE PHOTOS OF MY GRANDMA’S BIRTHDAY PARTY.)

I’m rolling up on three years since this happened. Things have changed so radically for me- moving back to the US, going back to school, getting a scholarship, having a car accident, losing my grandma, buying a car… Crying, much less UGLY CRYING over losing that job makes me laugh now. There are such better things to shed tears over.

Time, perspective, more time. Balm. Clarity. Sorrow to joy, failure to lessons to strength.

But really, Mr. CEO. You wanted to save my wages for the company and you make $21,931,769 a year? Fuck you, man. Fuck you SO FUCKING HARD.

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