I had barely poured my first cup of coffee Friday morning when my cell phone rang. Seeing it was my boss, I was surprised. She never calls me, not for any reason whatsoever. Surprised she had my cell phone, she called me back on my business line and started the conversation with "I have some bad news for you." blah blah blah "surplus" blah blah...last day May 25th blah blah severance package for you to look over...blah blah blah. Can I say I was shocked? No. I called this day a year ago. My gut was warning me in March. It was telling me in July that it was time to jump ship. Here we are. I was given Friday off to "digest" the news. Despite the conversation, my boss seemed a bit surprised that there was no reaction from me and commented that I seemed to be taking things awfully well. What exactly was I supposed to do? Beg? I simply asked her to forward me the paperwork and I would look it over. She urged me to consult an attorney and a financial consultant and make a decision: upload a resume and try for a position open elsewhere in the company or take my severance and permanently close the door on my career at Ma Bell. I spent Friday doing nothing in particular, went shopping, enjoyed the sun, picked up a prescription, treated it like any other day. Did some thinking over the weekend. Questioned whether I was really OK or just in some sort of denial. Would this layoff leave me in a sea of fear and grief eventually? I slept on it and woke up Saturday morning feeling absolutely.......LIBERATED! Excited even at the thought of a Summer without working two jobs, at resting after back and forth and back and forth to the U of C, Alexian Brothers, endless needles and poking and telling someone my name and birthday. I was excited about studying outside on my deck with a big glass of juice. And then, tonight, while I was taking a shower I remembered April 5, 1995. A young single mom, newly liberated from her husband, started her first day at a company called Advantis. It was the first non restaurant job she ever had and she was scared to death at the thought of working on a computer when she could barely type her name on one. She drove this old beat up two door Dodge Charger without air conditioning and both doors stuck so that she would have leave the window open in order to get into the car because it would only open from the inside. Two little kids were fastened into the back seat for their first day at the new day care. As she stopped off for gas, a million things were running through her head like "Can I do this job?" "OMG! I'm running late!" While deep in thought, she filled her beat up car with gas and realized that she FORGOT TO CRACK THE WINDOW. Kids in the back seat, purse with the money for the gas on the front seat and 45 minutes to show time, she stared at the full gas station, sighed and opened up the hatchback, crawled through a pile of debris while onlookers snickered and opened the door, ran into the store to pay for the gas and tried not to notice the people laughing. The attendant took the money and said "bad day??" "Yep" she said and she drove off for her first day. Once in the call center, she met her boss, Carol. Carol was a sweet and wonderful lady and though young single newly liberated from her marriage, mom was worried sick she could not handle the job, Carol had no doubt she could and boss was right. What was a new adventure, turned into a LOT of new friends. Every day at work was FUN. Weekends were for study or reading or hanging out with co-workers and talking when it was not busy. Relationships. Mary Lou, Ruby, Tom, Joe, Jim, Mahmoud, Doug, Eric, Tina, Ron, Mike and Mike and Mike, Gregg, Faraz, Phil, Leilani, Diane, Lou, Dwayne, Jason, Sherwin...a close crew. Good friends. Many laughs. Good times.
The AT&T that is now, is not the company that young single mom joined 15 years ago and it's not this AT&T that she will miss. Young single mom, now me, will always remember working for Advantis, my very first job. I will always remember kicking the back of Doug's chair on my way to my cubicle EVERY DAY. I do not now why I did that but it became part of the friendship. I will always remember when some smart ass in our group switched the coffee mate with flour. I will always remember Saturdays in the call center. We'd have weekly pot lucks and sit around and girl talk when it wasn't busy. I will always remember Friday nights at Bennigan's, doing blow job shots and winding down after the work week. I will always remember the thrill I had learning, being encouraged to learn, and the great bosses I had who took the time to try and build, not tear down. I have missed the feeling of being valued and wanting to contribute just for that feeling of doing a good job. I have been corporately beaten down by offshoring and outsourcing and feeling devalued, by layoff after layoff since 2004. I've been beaten down by a 40 hour work week somehow slowly growing into a 50 hour work week, then 60 with weekends and nights, feeling guilty for taking time to talk to the kids, eating dinner or going to the bathroom. So, my gut says, no. No resumes. No looking for a job in the company. Take the money and close the door. The fondness you feel is not for this. It's for what was. What was was pretty great. What will be....I guess that's up to me. I'm not saying there isn't a little fear but 3 years ago, I made a promise to God during the Relay for Life. I vowed that as long as I am living I will be a voice for cancer and that I would do anything in my power to eradicate this disease from the face of the Earth. He is holding me to my promise. Whereas He led me to what I needed 15 years ago, I have no doubt He is leading me now....and I'm following. So, goodbye AT&T. It's been a good run. I've learned a lot about what I want, and what I don't. God, now what?