As soon as I heard that I was to be laid off, I removed all signs of myself from my in- and outfacing cubicle walls. This included framed photographs of my children, flyers of upcoming poetry readings, flow charts of President Barack Obama’s cabinet that I had received in Washington, D.C. at his inauguration, and an assembly of mementos that marked my participation as a clown in the City of Oakland’s last Holiday Parade, as well as the program from the public funeral of four police officers at the Oracle Arena earlier in the year. Email addresses and phone numbers of division superintendents took a nosedive into the circular file (I scored it as a 10), which was the institutional dark green color of all wastebaskets. Of course, Ikea probably sells red and blue and multicolored wastepaper baskets. I made a note a check the next time I went there to buy tea candles, but figured it that would be some time before I'd get there.
It was easy to clean out my desk drawers. Mostly I had used the space to store extra napkins from lunch. Then there were two drawers of file cabinets with remnants of projects I had worked on during my tenure as Web Project Manager; did I forget to say what I did? Or have I already forgotten? There were folders of contract information from the developers in Chicago. Flowcharts, needs analyses, and all kinds of what nots. Except for files from Human Resources with information about my 401K account, I figured I could easily abandon that information to be absorbed into some vast institutional memory, shapeless and inflated with meetings. What need had I for paper when I could copy my electronic files to flash memory and comport them to my laptop at home?
I observed my handiwork. There was no longer any me there. I was a California poppy who had folded up shop. It was only a matter of weeks before I took the final step: returned my Identification badge, handed over my cell phone, and said good-bye. In the meantime, I wondered if anyone in management would say, “Thank you.” I knew better. The whole thing was so depressing.