March 31, 2020

I just looked at the clock and, as far as Eastern Daylight Time is concerned (all that matters as far as my now-previous employer is concerned), for the first time in almost 17 1/2 years I find myself unemployed. A truly free agent in every sense of the word. The world being my oyster and all that happy horse shit. It feels truly weird.

I went to bed last night trying to think about who I was and what it was like back in December of 2003, walking into the Gateway Center building (at that time where my company’s Phoenix office was then located). I was forty-eight at the time, only feeling relieved that my brief and pitiful period of selling health insurance was finally over. I was back in Healthcare IT, where, the idea of becoming an Episcopal or Anglican priest recently and finally squashed like a bug, I knew I belonged.

Laying on the pillow, hands behind my head, I couldn’t recall who or what I was at that time. Isn’t that strange? All I knew then was that I had found a new gig: something I was truly qualified for. This was four years before working from home. Five years before the India team. Fourteen years before “The Client Who Shall Remain Nameless” and when the madness set in.

I never dreamed it would be 17 1/2 years later, and I’d be sixty-four – 64! – and that, mentally and physically fried to a crisp, the journey would come to an end.

Strange thing is, I found all the final activities associated with my final day of employment strangely dull and unemotional. Got up in the morning, found that the incompetent Human Resources representative (who has never been either human nor a resource in all my dealings with her) finally got my “outboarding” (where do folks come up with these terms, anyways?) e-mail with all my severance package info (which, if it is to be believed, something very respectable) as well as all the other crap you have to follow when leaving a primarily remote company (turn in you badge, your company credit card, your laptop, etc.). I found it interesting they were allowing me keep a very nice 22″ Lenovo monitor: the equipment guy told me they had run out of room for returned monitors. Go figure.

I backed up all the files I could onto an archaic external drive my company had provided me years ago.

I checked my Inbox, now down to seven e-mails (all from well-wishers in the company), got it down to zero.

I had a final call with my team, where I learned that, not only are a bunch of folks being placed on furlough (supposedly because of the Coronavirus), but that there are rumors of a sales force layoff in the next couple of weeks followed by another 10% reduction in force after that, and then after that yet another reduction in force planned for the beginning of May.

If all the above is true, it would appear that I’m getting out just in time.

(I really don’t want this post to be negative; all I’m going to say is that it infuriates me to no end that a once-prominent (and in my view, superior) healthcare IT company has been run into the fucking ground by a bunch of totally fucking incompetent and over-their-fucking-heads management team by a totally fucking incompetent, social justice warrior impersonating a CEO. I hate to offer the premise of a conspiracy theory here, but I find it hard to believe that someone could take over a company in 2012 – a company with clients from one end of the country to the other – a real player in the healthcare IT industry – with a stock price somewhere in the $15 range and gradually run it into the ground where, just seven years later, it has lost a large portion of its US client base, its stock is in the $7 range, and has been laying off people by the dozens over the past two years. Sure, you can call it capitalism – and it is – but you know damned well the CEO is going to leave with a damned fine compensation package when the company is sold, and to hell with everyone else. It just sucks, and my heart bleeds for everyone being forced to watch that string quartet play “Nearer My God To Three” as the stern rises ever so slowly as the bow begins to disappear under the waves. It just sickens me.)

It was shortly after 1 PM (4 PM EDT) that I sent my final e-mails out, set my Skype status to “Away”, put my Outlook out of office message on, and then quietly, without emotion or fanfare, powered off my laptop and unplugged the equipment on my office desk. My office mate Peach the rabbit must have sensed something was going on – he came over and started biting the wire fence that separates his part of the room from mine, insisting on some attention. I gave him a few pets, got up from my chair, and went out to make lunch. And that was that.

Ever since getting the news of my layoff on Thursday I’d been wondering what it would feel like to shut down the laptop, knowing it was all over. Would I feel sadness? Joy? Relief? As it was, I felt nothing. Not happy. Not sad. Not even sentimental. It was over – fourteen pretty enjoyable years, the last three years absolute, meat-grinder hell. I actually thought I’d already made it through the five stages of grief since the work dreams of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night had stopped, but there was no emotion at all. To quote a great Meg Myers song, all I could feel was numb.

Eight hours later, I’m starting to feel the first tingles of what might be the first tiny tastes of true freedom. Freedom to explore new paths. Freedom from the 6:20 AM alarm and another day of bullshit and crisis management (Manage up! Manage down!) without any let-up from the git-go. I can already feel all the stress and anxiety starting to pour out of me: I used to welcome my 2 PM naps where I would immediately fall asleep; now I just look at the ceiling and think about what I want to do with the rest of the day.

There’s no question my age and the severance package I’m getting helps with the anxiety of having to find a new gig almost immediately – I doubt I’d be feeling the same were I ten, or even five, years younger – all I know right now is that I’m standing outside the arena and looking in and able to see just how emotionally damaged and spent I am. I know I need to take some time to heal, and it’s going to take time.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:03 | Comments Off on Closing Up Shop
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