As I noted in my last post, the last week and a bit has been rather stressful at work, with the threat of pending lay offs looming over us. We didn’t know with any degree of certainty who would be remaining with the company, who would be gone, or when it would actually take place. I had my suspicions that we would start finding out yesterday. I was right.
As some of you already know, my job requires frequent shift work. Yesterday I worked a 10 hour day that started at 5am. By 6am, it had started. One by one, people were pulled out of their work areas and walked to the door. Again, and again, and again. The area I was working in was on a main hallway that feeds into other areas. I saw a lot of people.
At 9:40, one of the people who looks over my work walked up to me. There was a meeting schedule for our department at 10am. I left instructions about what I needed with regards to what I was working on, and then the guys I was working at wished me luck as I walked towards the front office. 10am came and went, with no news. I ran into my manager briefly in the coffee room, and he told me not to worry. I sat at my desk, which is near one of the (not soundproofed) meeting rooms, listening to people in other departments crying and hugging each other. At 10:30, I heard my manager said “follow me”, as a bunch of my coworkers walked towards another meeting room. I got up and followed them. He was carrying the same nondescript green folder that I had seen people carrying all morning. Maybe telling me not to worry was his way of saying he’d give me a good reference?
My colleagues filed into the meeting room in front of me. When I got to the door my manager said “No, not you.” and sent me back the way I had come. I went back down to my desk and realized not everyone in the department had actually been called to the meeting. I found out there had been a bit of concern when they saw me leaving, because the people who were aware of who were being laid off knew I wasn’t supposed to be on the list. I asked if I could go back to what I had been doing before, and I was told no, and to wait in the office.
About half an hour later everyone was back down at their desks, packing up. I had to fight back tears as I tried to comfort one of the girls who had been let go. That was hard. I wished everyone well as they packed up their desks, and had one of the guys briefly fill me in on what he had been working on, as I would be taking over his work for the rest of the day. Then I was allowed to go back to what I was doing.
At this point it had been almost 2 hours since I left my work area. The guys I was working with thought I had been let go. I didn’t even get back through the door before people started shaking my hand and congratulating me for making the cut. It was a horrendous feeling. Disturbed relief.
I went through the motions for the rest of the day, doing my job, but I just wanted out of there. I was happy that they kept the people that they did, but at the same time I saw people leave that I didn’t want to see let go. I’m not sitting here thinking “why me?”, but at the same time I know how easy it is to fall on the other side of the line. It’s my own rendition of survivor’s guilt.
My manager apologized profusely at the end of the day for the confusion when I was walking towards the meeting room with my former colleagues. Apparently when he said “follow me”, he had already mentioned each one of them by name. I had been doing my own thing, not really paying attention at the time, so I just followed the group when I saw them leaving. My manager said he felt sick when he saw me heading towards the meeting room door, because I wasn’t supposed to be there. Good to know.
I don’t think I could have timed my upcoming vacation better if I tried.
Recommended Reading: This Bank is Cray Cray