The last few weeks have felt incredibly unfair. I was hunting online for jobs with other companies while trying to find the energy to perform at work despite the public announcement that my position was eliminated. Talk about feeling irrelevant. The only good was that, in addition to the severance papers many of us received, we were told that we were “free to apply for any newly created positions”.
No one feels like a potential candidate with a “the more, the merrier” atmosphere. At least, I didn’t. I was in a group of people – some of them downright goofballs – who suddenly had one week to secure a position that was available for everyone, company-wide. Who was I, anymore?
The managers were discussing the deconstruction of my public view monitors and record retention desk while I was standing at it. I pretended like it was not hard to breathe. They were talking about repositioning our community display that I have worked so hard to remodel in order to reflect our city. Big, strong men – real security looking dudes – would come walking in from other stores, their little printed application in hand, and ask me to get my manager for them.
One time I was doing a friendly touch-and-go with one of the young, entry level associates, just briefing him on our company safety and shrink plans, when he mentioned that he had an interview scheduled for the position I wanted that I was currently performing. It’s like having someone say, “I’m gonna try to be you because I think that’s possible.” And that’s just fucking insulting. But I smiled and gave him advice, anyway, followed by one of those pretentious fist bumps for good measure.
I felt acidic. I couldn’t distract myself. I wasn’t enjoying the fun, simple things in everyday life. It was very hard to get to sleep and nearly impossible to get out of bed. At the same time my hours were practically doubled as I went the extra mile to fit my development courses in with actual shifts, occasionally putting in twelve hour days. I couldn’t even write. If I was in front of this laptop, I was working on my resume or drawing up a three month plan to deliver at my interview.
“Oh, I guess it was my job to tell you: your interview is tomorrow morning. Ooh, it’s early, too.”
That’s when I spent all of the strength I had left. I used it to not bitch someone out about courtesy and professionalism. On a positive note, a lot of my dread and anxiety went away – but it was because I had somehow run out. I was tired of it. I was done fighting for the most basic thing. Besides, I had all of my materials in order and I couldn’t be any more prepared.
The bizarre treatment had numbed me, somehow, and actually relaxed me by the time I walked in to the board of interviewers. I made a joke about one third of the way through, while discussing crisis situations, that I’d spent plenty of time looking out at the sort of dense fog in our parking lot that is perfect pretense for a horror movie.
I said, in addition to the tornado and fire emergency, that I was prepared for a zombie apocalypse. That it was all “up here,” and pointed to my brain.
“Step number one, no matter what: get those metal doors down and locked.”
“BOOM!” the head manager replied, her hand motioning straight down as if she could see it playing out. Everyone was smiling.
Then it was a few more days of waiting. Some of the nervousness flooded back into my system. For good measure I focused on sales and did good things in front of the right people. I couldn’t have told you at this point, if getting the job was good or bad. It wasn’t really a matter of preference. It was a game I’d played for so long that I instinctively aimed to stay in it.
Yesterday morning the head manager called me from her personal cell phone. She started in on a positive note, which I have come to recognize as strategy for setting the tone for bad news. It was like listening with the phone to my ear but being a mile from the receiver. Like I’m always holding onto those separation papers.
“You interviewed really well; you gave a very strong presentation. Thank you for coming prepared. We all think that you will be excellent for this new role and I would like to officially offer you the job.”
Later on that day someone in the know approached me and asked, “Aren’t you excited?”
I’m tired. The process was very draining but I didn’t know how to express that so I just said, “Yeah, it’s just that no one is supposed to know, yet, so.”
I found out later from someone else, “Congrats on your promotion! You were the first to interview for that position and I went in there after you just to see how things were going. They were like, soon as the doors were closed, ‘well, we know who has THAT role’.”
Great. I have a lot of work to do. I close tonight, and reasoned Sunday off.
Tonight the sleep will be sound and tomorrow, I will reconnect.