It was a thursday, and it was raining. I despise rain because my car smokes terribly and I have to keep one window opened a crack. As I accelerated
, matters only became worse and soon I was both wet and smoky smelling, but I was late and had little choice in the matter. As I turned into Sprint Campus
and waited in line for the parking garage I passed by the "Ritz
", the nickname for the incredibly fancy office building exclusively for the VIP
's. I thought, "I'll bet I lose my job tomorrow, everybody's talking about it." Rumors had been circulating for the past week that the axe
was falling soon, and like in the movie, "Office Space
," it was common practice to have giant layoffs on fridays.
My job as a data entry specialist (an embellished title for a dissatisfying job) for Sprint PCS begins at 8:00 in the morning, and I arrive at 8:03. Something that I noticed immediately was the lack of "Hi!" "Hello!" "Good morning!" and "Looking forward to the weekend?" that echoed throughout cubeland. In fact there was very little conversation occuring whatsoever. There wasn't any ambient laughing, and the smell of popcorn and coffee was all but nonexistent, creating this eerie sensory vacuum.
The cubes are rather fancy at Sprint campus. They have a locking closet unit where you can store your personal items, overhead bins, drawers, a fancy Meridian phone and $200 ergonomic chairs. As I sat down after getting my coffee, which comes from a rather fancy coffee spout in the shining-clean employee break room called a "Pop site", I noticed that my coworker, the new contractor from the same agency as mine, wasn't there. She was always there at 7:30 am because she lived close-by, unlike my sorry fourty-five minute commute.
I asked my boss, Jack, where my coworker, Sarah, was.
"Sarah's not with us anymore," Jack awkwardly replied, "Just go back to work and don't talk to anyone about it."
"Why was she let go?" I pried.
My boss looked up from his keyboard, met his eyes with mine and recited as if from a script, slowly and earnestly, "Sarah. Is. Not. With. Us. Any. More." I froze for a second, like a deer about to be smacked by a train, then scurried back to my cube.
At about 9:30 am, I checked the Sprint homepage for internal news. We're encouraged to do this sporadically to see what's occuring in the company. There was a letter on the top of the page from Mr. LeMay, one of the vice presidents of the corporation, about "asset cuts." 2,100... Asset... cuts...
The escorters began showing up at approximately 10:30 to begin emptying people's cubes out for them. This happened all day long. There were plenty of sad and embarassed looks on the faces of those soon to be facing the unemployment lines. Most of my department was quiety and subtley cleaned out, white unmarked box by white unmarked box, by these men wearing dark blue uniforms.
At approximately 2:00 pm, I went to the rest room. When I came back, there was a woman sitting in my chair, doing someting on my computer. I had never met this woman in my life, and to see her in my chair, working on my computer... needless to say was disturbing. I asked what she was doing, and she replied, "Oh, I'm just updating your software." I accepted that because I wanted to believe it.
At the end of the day I left as usual, and to my surprise the parking garage was almost empty. I tried to start my car, but apparently I had left the lights on all day and my battery was drained. I began to walk back to the building to call AAA when, by coincidence, my boss walked out of the front door.
"Where're you going?" he uttered with a startled look.
"Oh, my car's not starting so I'm going to ask the front desk guy for a jump."
He paused. "That's okay, I'll just give you a jump."
So he jump started my car, which is quite a feat since the alternator connection is a bit lousy, so it takes several minutes to get it going properly.
I graciously voiced, "Thanks for the jump!"
"See you tomorrow, Mike, and get your car fixed!" he hollered as he got into his car.
'See you tomorrow,' I kept repeating in my mind's eye, a phrase so pleasing I couldn't believe it. Ripples of relaxation swept over me as I realized that I still had my job, and arrogantly mused that I was doing a better job than everyone else who was trodding out of the building with forlorn looks upon their faces, carrying a unmarked white box with their personal posessions.
I drove home through the Kansas City "Grandview Triangle," a nasty stretch of highway that, with the slight drizzle of rain, caused the traffic to slow to a snail's pace. Finally I arrived at home, got a coke from the fridge and checked the answering machine.
"Mr. Alkav, we regret to inform you that your services are no longer required with Sprint..."
It's been months and I'm still angry. They gave me that false sense of security and then let me know I was fired through my damn answering machine.