Five years ago last week the company I had worked for decided to close its St. Louis branch.
It was long rumored the ax was going to fall, but it was still a crazy day. The company had been having very public financial issues and very public talks about cutting costs.
The 20 or so people I worked with in the St. Louis area were in this weird position. We all had jobs to do, but were unsure for how long.
It was the worst kept secret that layoffs were coming, but no one knew who or how many.
We were then told Aug. 15 would be the day of the announcement, so we spent the days and weeks before that day wondering what was going to happen. We were all updating our resumes and looking for jobs.
The thinking was that if you could jump ship and land on your feet, you might prevent someone else from getting the boot.
It turned out to not matter.
We worked remotely, so everything was done over phone calls and emails. We had a conference call letting us know the future of the company, and were directed to check our emails for more information.
The emails directed us to another conference call. My team quickly realized we were split into two groups. We figured one group was going to get the bad news and the other was going to get the good news.
I was in the first group and found out the news was bad. The rest of the phone call played out like Charlie Brown’s teachers talking — all I heard was “today is your last day” and then white noise.
It’s super weird to be let go from a job while sitting at a desk in your bedroom slash office.
I had left jobs before, but always on my own terms. There was a finality aspect to it. Shaking hands with people, packing up my things and walking out the door one last time without the key.
This time? Well I hung up the phone and sent instant messages to my co-workers that the work I was supposed to do that day was not going to get done.
I closed my laptop, trudged out to the living room and turned on the TV. I didn’t know what else to do.
The news made the rounds that five of us had been let go. We all knew that the remaining few would be saddled with more work, but at least were still employed.
That feeling lasted about 30 minutes. The others found out they too were getting laid off, just a little farther down the road. Instead of it being their last day, they were given a few extra weeks to search for a new gig.
A large portion of us, now split into two groups known as “The Dead” and “The Walking Dead” decided to drown our sorrows with dinner and drinks.
We all left our homes and talked about what a crazy experience the whole job had been.
While at the restaurant, my company-issued cell phone was shut off reminding me that I was no longer part of the company.
When I got home, I found out the company-issued laptop no longer worked either. It was all so surreal.
It was really hard to turn my brain off and realize I no longer had a job. The working from home aspect made it tougher, too.
Every day I woke up, I was at the office. I had papers and things for work all around me that I no longer needed. I spent several days waiting for a big box to come so I could ship all my company products back to corporate.
Being laid off was, obviously, not ideal. I liked my job for the most part and wanted to keep doing it. In the end, however, it worked out.
While I would have preferred to have been employed while searching for work — it would have been a lot less stressful — I ended up here at The Missourian.
Five years ago was one of the weirdest and worst days of my life. After landing on my feet, it’s just another day.