Early one morning, I was awakened by an unwelcome call. On the other end of the line, an impatient male voice demanded my attention. He asked my name. I wanted to know what this was all about. He said he was my boss. I was going to be fired for not coming to work. He said I had to come in right away. I asked where he was. He wasn’t sure; he had the receptionist tell me. She wasn’t impressed! Leaping out of bed, I got dressed and headed towards the address she gave me, getting lost several times on the way.
When I arrived, the receptionist looked me up and down with contempt. There weren’t any chairs, so I had to stand. She said the movers took them away, but I wasn’t going to be there very long anyway. There was nothing to read – nothing on the walls. Pretty boring place, really. How did I ever choose not to work there?
I was finally allowed into the bosses’ office. He got up and shook my hand. He asked me if I had any trouble finding the place. I said yes; I’d never been there before. He thanked me for coming in so quickly; he added he knew how busy I wasn’t. Then it was down to brass tacks.
He gave a long spiel about the future, collaborating and the importance of good team work. He stopped half way through to ask what my name was.
I mentioned I did not work there. He said exactly – that was the problem. I was noncommittal. Thinking quickly, I asked about severance pay. He asked how much. I said seventy five bucks. He checked his trouser pockets, then his jacket pockets. Finally, in his coat pocket, he fished out his well-worn wallet. Counting aloud, he purposefully handed me a grand total of seventy five bucks. We shook hands. He thanked me for my service. I asked for a reference. He said that would be awkward, since I never did any work. I thought that was a bit odd. Kind of an admission of the reality of the situation, wasn’t it? Anyway, I was finished there. Another chapter of my life had closed, for good.
On my way out, a few colleagues came forward, teary eyed, and shook my hand, wishing me well. They made good use of standard issue platitudes:
Good working with you.
Best of luck in the future.
There’s more work out there for a guy like you – that sort of thing.
One of them called me “Donald”.
I made the long journey home, getting lost a few times, accompanied by mixed feelings. I wouldn’t be working there anymore – never to return. I had lost my job – the only one I never knew I had. I’d miss my colleagues. I hoped they could continue without me. I promised myself not to keep in touch.
Walking in the door, my phone started to ring. I rushed over and answered it. On the other end of the line, an impatient male voice demanded my attention. He said he was my boss and asked my name. I began to think this could be a pretty good week, depending how you looked at it; and I prepared myself to become one hundred and fifty dollars better off.