This post was started on Wednesday, February 24, 2010.
Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
An excerpt from The Tao Te Ching, chapter 15
Friday, February 19th was a normal Friday. Nothing unusual. The weather was clear, the sun was shining, there was even a slight breeze blowing. Special in its particular uniqueness, but nothing ‘memorable’. I went to work, as usual, had packed my things for the weekend in Charlotte. The next day, Saturday, February 20th was my birthday, big number 4-8. We had plans to go to The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant.
During the work day, we had our normal amount of raucous banter. After all, I’m in a room full of guys, no women. There are 7 of us in there and the jokes fly back and forth, movie quotes, talking about each other, lots of fun. Sometime around 10 or 11, I received an e-mail saying:
Please report to the conference room next to my office at the North Rhett building at 4:00 PM. This is a MANDATORY meeting.
Great, another mandatory meeting. So, I gave a shout out: Hey, guys, did you get an e-mail about a mandatory meeting? The answer was no all around. i was the only one who’d gotten it. Curious. Another employee who was across the hall happened to hear what I said. He went back to his desk, checked his e-mail. He had one, too. A third employee then came in and found that he had one as well. We wondered out loud about what this could be about.
The projects had been having some money issues and they were shuffling people around to different charge numbers, etc. Nothing to worry about. Well, although I had sense of foreboding, I was able to calm myself and enjoy the rest of my day.
We arrived at the North Rhett building, or HQ, about 15 minutes early, walked into the conference room. The room was sparsely furnished, containing a whiteboard, one long conference table, and chairs to accommodate 10 people, or so. We sat down, talked amongst each other and, of course, wondered aloud what this was all about. We came to no conclusion. We were about to find out, though.
At 4:00 PM, our boss Marla, followed by her boss, Doug, entered the conference room. It’s funny what you remember, but I remember that the sun was shining through the louvered blinds at the left end of the table and making interesting patterns as it shown through an oscillating fan. I remember thinking that I wish I had my camera with me. Always the photographer, I guess.
Everyone was seated at the table, Doug, the division head to my right at the head of the table, Marla, directly across from me. For the rest, I’ll use aliases. To my left sat Bob, at the end of the table, James, his back to the louvered blinds, the sun still shining, unaffected by what was about to unfold, and directly across from me, slightly to the left, to Marla’s right, sat Don.
Marla looked at each of us, a grim look on her face, and announced that there was no more funding left and they had worked with the customer to cut 4 people and that our names were the ones that had come up in their decisions. I looked across the table at Don. He stared back blankly, gave a barely perceptible nod, then looked down. I looked left to James. No reaction. The dust motes danced on the sunbeams, unaffected. Bob was turning a bit crimson, holding back his emotions. Looking within, I felt unaffected at the moment, but that was soon to change. Marla continued, saying that we had all done great jobs and this wasn’t because of anything that we did. I remember thinking, yeah, nothing personal, just business; Corporate America in action.
We were told that we could stay with the company for a few weeks and try to find a job within the company and that she would offer us all of the help that she could. They asked if we had any more questions. Silence. The last thing that I remember Doug saying was, have a great weekend. Sure.
Again, I was unaffected as I walked out the door to the car; however, those emotional waves began to roll and land on the shores of my mind. Crashing, one after the other, stirring up thoughts. Why? What did I do wrong? How could this have been prevented? I’m so tired of changes, movement. What should I learn from this? I was on the other side of the blinds now, the sun continued to shine, unimpeded. Birds sang. The wind blew. Nothing changed there.
I called my wife to let her know that I was on the way and to let her know the news. I struggled to keep the emotion out of my voice, but she could hear it. She asked: Are you alright? I could give nothing but a pregnant pause, a croak, and finally was able to offer a few strained words: No. Not really. Can we talk later? I was deeply disappointed and hurt. I got on the road and headed back towards Charlotte. I listened to music, looked at the glorious sunlight, took in the pine trees, drove. I started feeling better.
The weekend turned out pretty good. I took the time to update my resume, meditate, enjoy dinner with my family, and realize that everything will work out as it should, not necessarily as I want. I decided not to tell Pedro or Tony until everything was resolved, thus the delay of this post.
On Monday, I sent out my resume to a recruiter in the Charlotte area that I’ve worked with before. He called me back right away and said: “Finally! You’re coming back. I’ve got so many jobs that I need to fill.” We talked for about 15 minutes. I was doing most of the listening as he told me about all of the positions that he had open. I heard the names of managers that I had worked for before and would like to work with again. On and on it went.
Throughout the day, I fielded various phone calls requesting more information. I was now submitted for at least 5 jobs and possibly 2 more …