Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Big Count-Down

After more than a year of waiting to hear the word from on high, I received the dreaded laid-off notice. Now I'm copying email addresses and phone numbers of people I want to stay in contact with post bootox. In the meantime, I’ve got one more week left on the payroll before filing for unemployment. In my newly laid-off status, I've become a member of the American mainstream. Oh joy. Having completed all outstanding work and with tons of sick leave on the books, I’m still able to use a fast Internet connection at my desk in case I want to register with agencies and look for work. I know people on my crowded floor have their eye on my cubicle space. The other day, someone wanted to know about my desk stand. I'm already being dismembered. The lesson here: none of us are indispensable.

Mostly, it’s a chore to come to work. I'm now a pariah. Employees look away from me in the elevator. They don’t know what to say. I’m an uncomfortable reminder that they, too, may, receive similar news, and pray that the Angel of Unemployment will pass over their cubicle wall. Of course, friends have taken me aside to let me know that whatever I may think, I am one of the lucky ones, released from the bondage of paying into a 401K plan and saving for retirement, which has been the adult, responsible thing to do, suddenly out there on my own and free to make new choices. I’m not ready to make choices. All I know is that my monthly balance sheet is not looking too good.

After years of being compressed into an 8 to 5 format, I just want to repot some root-bound plants on my patio ledge and catch up with doing the wash. I did toy with the idea of buying a franchise for a gourmet peanut and butter business on the West Coast where none are located, or applying for a $30,000 grant from something called the Metanexus Institute, which had a nice George Orwellian ring to it. But within minutes, I thought better of either prospect and decided that the smart thing to do was to get a haircut and a pedicure. I owed that much to myself, and to any upcoming job interviews. So I spent the afternoon sitting in a chair in front of a mirror while Richard trimmed my hair and then drove down the hill to the pedicure salon where my feet were soaked, sanded, and daintily painted with a new coral polish. My friend who is contemplating retirement came over my house where we saved money by cooking dinner together and drinking a bottle of wine.

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