They packed up our office today.
I worked right through it. A lot of people, well, the people who haven’t moved on or haven’t moved to the new state where my company is setting up shop, left for the day. I worked at my desk with its gorgeous view of the Willamette River and Forest Park and tried to ignore the movers.
It has been almost a year since the governor of another Western state stopped into our booth at a trade show and announced, "Welcome to (insert state here)!"
Those of us who witnessed it had to keep our mouths from dropping open.
We’d been told in June of 2006 that our company, which was purchased by a new parent firm in 2005, was staying in our hometown.
The official announcement of our company moving did not come until Friday, Oct. 13. The day before the business section ran a front page story announcing the decision. And the day before I received our first BFP.
We all worked and waited diligently for the next month, wondering who would get move packages, what would they look like, when would the move happen, what would the severance packages be? It didn’t help that it was our busy season. After weeks of anxiety, we were worked in more ways than one.
I had BIG things on my mind. I didn’t breathe a word of my news to anyone in the office. My company is great. It is very family-friendly. If, by family-friendly, you mean that you are guy with young children and a cute stay-at-home wife. In sales and marketing, where I work, there are exactly two working moms. There were a lot of women during my six year tenure who became mothers. They just no longer work there.
I was petrified that they would put me on the severance package track if they learned of my news. That they would make my decision for me. Not that I wanted to move. But it mattered that I was invited to go.
At one time this job was my dream job. It is in sports. Very cool sports. A vocation that is as much about lifestyle as anything else. I couldn’t believe I had landed such a sweet gig right out of graduate school. More times than I care to admit, I put this job before everything else. Once, while on a flight to Europe, we started counting how many weekends we had worked that year. We had to stop at April because it started to make us bitter.
It was demanding and challenging and – more often than not – beyond fun. Until this whole move thing happened. And then it got all fucked up.
A month later, you are sitting in your boss’ office. The door is closed. He has been meeting personally with your whole department, one-by-one, all day long. It’s 5 o’clock on a Tuesday. It is dark out. He is glassy-eyed. You wonder if he is stoned. Or just holding back tears.
He is talking about how they haven’t made any decisions about what the marketing department will look like in the new structure. How they want to keep you in the organization. But they have no offer to give yet. He is sorry. He knows this has been a tough time for everyone.
You don’t really hear much, because you are having deep, painful cramps.
The day before you had gone to your first pregnant lady appointment. The OB asked how you were feeling. Cheerily you said, fine. "Sometimes I don’t even feel like I am pregnant."
With that she pulled out the dildo-cam. Junior was measuring small for the gestation period. At that moment, you have no idea how bad that is. What that means. She chalks it up to a last-menstrual-period calculation error. You told her you chart. You use OPKs. Your chart dates are spot on. She shrugs and orders a more powerful ultrasound for the following week.
And now you are cramping. In a chair. In your boss’ office. With your back to the river. And it is taking all that you have not to cry. To smile. To say it is okay, you are patient. You understand that these things take time. December for a definitive answer on your role in the new organization? Before Christmas? Sounds great. Thank you for explaining the situation so thoroughly.
You walk back to your desk. Calmly tuck the cell phone into your pocket. You walk quickly to the bathroom. There is red.
You take a free tampon from the dispenser in the women’s room. You wash your hands. Still you are not crying lest someone walks into the bathroom. You work in an office with mostly guys. In sports. Beyond everything, you do not cry in the office. Instead, you dash into the stairwell across the hall and call Cowboy.
I don’t have a move offer. No, I don’t have a severance package either.
When will you know.
I think I am miscarrying. (Begin crying.)
Hang up the phone, your husband says, and get home now.
Later that night you lay in bed cramping. And bleeding. And crying quietly so you don’t wake your husband. You don’t take aspirin or Advil for the pain because you are, after all, pregnant. But you know. Though they haven’t said it, you feel like you have lost your job. And though they haven’t confirmed it, you are pretty certain you are losing your baby, too.
In 3 days the cramps and bleeding stop. You go to work every day. You take Advil now to control the pain.
Four more cycles, Christmas, New Year’s, a month where you are home for only four days out of 30 and Valentine’s Day go by before you receive word of a promotion, a new job and a move package.
By then, you don’t really care anymore.
And so you elect not to get on the bus going to the new state. A majority of your colleagues decide the same. A new regime. A new mission. You stop getting meeting requests for next year’s planning sessions.
It feels awkward. You could leave. But the retention bonus and severance package are good. And, by the time it starts to really suck, you feel that you have earned every bit of them.
After the movers left. I walked around the empty office. The framed magazine covers of athletes are packed. All of the products scattered around that I write marketing plans for are gone, too.
I start to cry. But it is OK this time. Because no one is around to see me.