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You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 107, “My Coronavirus Story Part 3, Laid Off,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!
April the 30th of this miserable year of 2020 was just another day at home in this weird time that is both very interesting and yet uninteresting at the same time. The company I work at had closed all of its offices back in mid-March as the nation started trying to come to grips with the pandemic. My job, as a deskside technician, was to be the ‘boots on the ground’ in the San Antonio office, but now that the office had been closed, my workdays consisted of sitting at my dining room table on my work laptop hunting through open incidents for something to do. Thanks to the lock-down, the number of remote techs working from home had multiplied five-fold, so the pickings were very slim.
A fellow tech had posted a ticket into our group chat asking for help, so I seized the opportunity and raised my virtual hand. I had been hired in December and there was still a lot that I didn’t know. Thus, I began searching through the knowledge base so I that wouldn’t be flying completely blind when I got in touch with the customer.
I had barely started to read the first article when the message: “Do you have time for a call?” popped up on my screen. I frowned at my dumb luck. Of course, the boss has to ping me the one time that I actually had something to do. But, you know, he’s the boss, so I replied: “Sure, I have time.”
“Okay, I’m sending a meeting request.”
I logged onto the video chat to find my boss and two other people that I had never met before on my screen.
My Spidey-sense started tingling. The first thought that popped in my head was: This is it, I’m being let go. In my mind, the two newcomers were the online equivalent of someone bringing a security guard with a cardboard box to your desk.
Once my boss introduced the pair of morose-looking gentlemen as being from Human Resources, my internal estimate of whether I was about to be let go from my job went from ninety-nine percent to one hundred. The only question now was going to be whether I was going to be laid off or fired.
The HR guys introduced themselves; one of them said that he was sorry we were meeting for the first time under these circumstances. I almost cracked a joke about this being the last time we were meeting, too. I kinda wish I had. Maybe it would have lightened the mood a little. Then again, it may have also made the unfortunate proceedings about to happen even more awkward. I chose to be a professional and held my tongue, which was probably the smarter thing to do.
After introducing them, my boss pretty much let the HR guys take over the meeting. He didn’t even bother looking into the camera, which was off to the side of his PC. I later found out that I wasn’t the only person to be let go, so perhaps he was setting up those meetings as well. I can’t say I envied him having that job, but at least he still had one.
Having been fired before as well as having been part of a mass layoff, I knew what was coming. We’re very sorry it had to come to this. Business needs. This wasn’t planned in advance. Blah blah blah. The only part I was interested in was whether I was being laid off or fired. I did a Mr. Spock eyebrow-raise at what I thought were some questionable statements, such as:
This is about business needs, which translates to: This is about saving money. That statement would have gone over better if I hadn’t had to sit in on an hour-long presentation with our CFO just the day before where he mentioned that the company was doing fairly well in spite of the lockdown. Yeah, that definitely does not computer.
This wasn’t planned in advance: Yeah, I don’t buy this for a second, especially given that it was a large company. Large companies never do anything quickly. It had been a month and a half since the office had closed down, and I wonder if there was some threshold they were waiting to hit before dropping the axe. If that statement was true, a company that just drops people at the drop of a hat isn’t the kind of company I want to work for. Granted, that issue seems to have taken care of itself, but still.
There were also a whole mess of things involving health insurance that I won’t go into here because this is 300 seconds and not 600. For those interested, the gory details of that mess are posted on my blog at Eduardo Soliz dot com.
Near the end of that whole sad affair, I was told to not mention anything to my coworkers, because others were going to be let go as well. Sure. A box would be shipped out so that I could return my work laptop and charger. I also had an access card for the office and a skeleton key, so I offered to get in touch with my local manager to return those items to her. I was told: “I know it sounds silly, but put those things in the box and mail them over to Milwaukee.” In my mind I thought: That doesn’t sound silly. It sounds stupid. But, I didn’t fight it.
The meeting done with, began to clean up the improvised home workspace that would go back to being my dining room table. I quickly discovered that my work access had been revoked, so score one for efficiency.
I sighed, logged out of my work laptop for the last time, and then came to an unfortunate realization:
I had forgotten to reassign that ticket. Oh well.
This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I visit the job websites. For more witty words written by me, visit Eduardo Soliz dot com, and I thank you for listening. Be good, take care and God Bless.