For all I can remember, the seasons in Texas go something like this, starting with winter: Winter in Texas is bitterly cold. Cold, cloudy, icy. Snow is rare, but ice is more common. It's not cold by the standards of anyone north of the Mason-Dixon Line, but it's pretty darn cold. Throughout February the temperature slowly climbs. By the time March rolls around, the weather is chilly but comfortable. It continues warming for some time, then suddenly the rain comes. For about two months, it rains. Perhaps not every day, perhaps all day, but it rains a lot. The rain is nice. As the weather warms up, the rains become more pleasant. There's nothing like a good hard late spring Texas rain. But the rain eventually turns violent. Thunderstorms begin to punctuate the evenings, bringing with them hail, tornadoes, extremely high winds, and flooding. This is, to me, the most fun weather there is. Before too long, though, the rain turns into steamy muggy showers. The weather, all this time, has kept bringing up the temperature slowly and deceptively. One day, you walk outside into a thick, warm atmospheric soup, and exclaim "Ugh!" The rains stop coming. The sun shines brighter and brighter each day, burning the earth. The Texas summer is long and hot and not much else. The climate invites insects of all kinds to breed and occupy the outside air. Texas summer can best be described as the expanse of time from June until September. In September, though, the memories of better weather begin to regain shape. First, the temperature drops well into the eighties and seventies (Farenheit). A breeze comes up, clouds form, the sun relents a little. The weeks become speckled with cool days and hot days. The cool days are more than likely accompanied by thick clouds, threatening rain. And then, miraculously, there comes about two weeks where it is always cloudy. It rains almost every day. Cool air follows the rain. By this time, you know that the summer is losing its grip. There are usually a few more hot summer days after this, but it is merely summer clinging with the little power it has left. The first truly cold days come after a rain. Days when you actually regret wearing shorts, when you want to go fly a kite (the wind is perfect), when the park is most inviting. You open up the windows, notice that the A/C hasn't kicked on in a while, spend some time on the front porch with a slight shiver, noting how good it feels. This is where I am.
I got fired today. Nine months at Papa John's. To paraphrase, my productivity wasn't good enough. Vague, haunting, nebulous reason. Darrell, a pretty good friend and currently on his way to becoming a manager, will probably interepret that statement for me later. I had come in to work about ten minutes early, as usual (I've never been late for work, not once.) got into my uniform and attempted to clock in. The computer denied my request. I tried again, to no avail. How odd. I go to the back room to check the schedule. My hours for this week have been crossed off.
"Ah, it's Patrick."
I turn to see the general manager and Darrell approaching me.
"Hey, am I off the schedule this week?" I smirk. When I came in, there were already four phone lines on hold, and the night was threatening to be busy. I would actually be glad to not have to work this night.
"We've decided to let you go."
I raise an eyebrow, clumsily attempting to maintain an air of nonchalance.
"Your productivity just hasn't been up to par, and we're letting you go. You can get your last paycheck when you turn in your uniform."
Nice. A textbook termination.
I went into the bathroom to get out of uniform. I take off the hat, encrusted with the sweat-salt stress of a thousand late pizzas, irritable customers, the smell of the weekend evening rush which I worked most often.
I removed the banana-yellow Papa John's shirt that I had, no less than 20 minutes ago, removed from the dryer. I'd always hated the color of that shirt. I put on the t-shirt I had come in wearing.
He handed me the tear-apart envelope comtaining the check. I say, "I'll take a slice of pizza before I go!" almost jovially. I grabbed a slice of the employee PXC pizza. Jeff, the GM, goes into the office to take care of business. Darrell smiles at me, a smile of "well-there-you-have-it, i-was-going-to-warn-you-but-you-weren't-home-earlier-today, but-there-it-is, it's-all-done-now." I recalled that I did notice his name on the Caller ID earlier today, but thought little of it. Now, in my memory, his name on the CID takes on an ominous tone. Like "I told you so. You didn't believe me, did you?"
I smirk back at him and raise my eyebrows. His expression offers no apology, no explanation, in fact, it's exactly the same as it was when Jeff was firing me. I take a bite of the pizza. Like most employees' pizzas, it's cooled off, a bit dry.
I lower my eyebrows, as if to change the subject. "Hmm, cool..."
"It's cold out there." Darrell says.
"Yeah, it's great," I smirk again. (still working on that air of nonchalance)
"Bah, I don't think so. It's cold!" he makes a shivering motion.
"It's nice. In fact, I think I'll go to the park."
He says nothing.
I turn out and walk to the front of the store, bidding farewell to anyone who's paying attention. I leave.
I've never been fired before. I muse on what an interesting feeling it is.
I wonder what I did wrong. There was no warning, no "You should work more effeciently, Patrick. Your productivity isn't quite up to par." Last week, I was commended for doing well keeping things together when they were falling apart. It's disturbing.
No sense in mourning the loss though. The job didn't pay well, wasn't fun, had approximately zero prestige, and it was only moderately fun to get zen about pizza making wirh coworkers. Now I've got some time to do what I really want to. There's time to get the band back together.