Pink Slipped

An adult with ADHD deals with a job loss during the holidays...
ADHD & the City | posted by Jane D.
Jane D.

In a split second I went from salaried professional to one of the gazillions of jobless out in the Big Bad Apple. I did not see the writing on the walls, but when I think about it closely enough there were signs. I never really liked the place. To me it was a job. It is what kept me in the city. I was one of the cattle called into the big boss's office early last week to be slaughtered. I thought it odd that the man wanted to speak with me, since he doesn't so much give me a nod.

What really surprised me was that my own boss did not deliver the news or show signs of the storm to come, as she sat and smiled as I told her about the new studio apartment I was planning on moving in to. If she was acting, she deserves an Oscar. I even called the father later that day and said, “oh, isn't it nice that my boss and I had this casual chat.” I was so close to "adulthood." Adulthood—with my own lease, with a job that I would have been at for more than two years, maybe even a pet—was so close and then it was taken away in a split second.

The term job layoff is a rather benign way of saying that "you're fired," and "no longer needed." All along though, I had an image of a bunch of gazelle out in the fields of Africa and a pack of lions chasing after their dinner, and 15% of my colleagues and I were caught. What could I say to the big boss as he shook his head and tried to look very sad. “There was a workforce reduction and you were one of them.”

The little section that we had been toiling over for nearly two years was being chopped in half. Print publishing is a dying beast, and much like a surgeon trims the fat off of a chicken, we were cut off just like that. I was not here for Sept. 11, I was not here for the dot-com bust, but now here I was sucked into the eye of the storm. I felt oddly calm as if I could finally exhale; I wonder if this is what I had really wanted all along, if that's why there were no tears, no lump in the throat.

It was the timing, the fact that the layoff was a week before Christmas. It was a major inconvenience, a major blow to my ego. I wanted to be the one who walked out with an Alpha job and said, "all the best," then the economy tanked. The timing is crap. I sighed and stared at the white packets holding a paltry severance, health care gone. What would I do about the Adderall or maybe finally I would be freed of the medication. The remaining gazelles would need to take a pay cut. The office felt like an oxygen chamber with the oxygen being sucked out of it. My eyes looked outside the office window to the staff slaving away at their assignments. What did it matter anymore. I took the packet, and said "thank you." Odd words to someone who had just given me the ax. "Don't thank me, we've never had something like this, let us know if there is anything we can do, print is dead, everything is moving online..."

It feels surreal and for a while all I could do was suck in my breath, trying to comprehend what had happened. What happened? The good friend at work looked devastated, her boss had been fired along with much of the staff. As a survivor, she didn't feel that great either. We went outside, walked around the block sucking in cold December air. The friend was telling me how this had happened to her before, it sucks but you'll get through this, you will, it must be a shock. I saw her call someone on the cell phone but couldn't hear the conversation. I wasn't getting it. Maybe I was losing my hearing.

Since then life has been a dream. Time is no longer defined because the days kind of blend into each other. When I tell people what happened, I get two reactions. Everyone is sorry but there are those who go into action mode, writing emails on strategies and what they think I should look into, and there are others who say, "I'm sorry to hear that, we will get together," and you never hear from them again. When a person's "status" is stripped, it's a strange feeling. You start to understand who you can count on, and it isn't always people who you would have expected would step up to the plate.

Today rather than sit at home and mope, I swam for two hours, just swam and swam and swam. I decided that it is all I could do. Right now it is the little black lane that is so holy, and the only thing that is certain.

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