Thursday, April 23, 2009
Back To The Office
I had been trying to stall. I tried not to think too much about it, but in the back of mind, I knew I had to go back to my office and test the waters. I needed to know what the climate there was, whether business had picked up at all since I’d been “Cut Adrift!” I initially told myself that I would wait until April first to start looking for a new job in earnest. Spring is the season when my workplace had always kicked into high gear. At this time of year, it was not unusual for me to go in an hour early, and still find myself in the office after 6pm each day, because there was so much work to do.
Surely things would be better by April, I’d assured myself, back in the dark days of January.
When last week came, I could wait no longer. I got up early on Thursday morning and prepared myself. I took extra time styling my hair and carefully applying my makeup. I donned pantyhose ( my most hated accessory), and dressed in my spring suit. It’s light green, and textured in a mossy cross-hatch pattern. I wore a dark pink shell underneath and accented the jacket with a sparkly pin studded with pink and green, fake jewels. Finally, I slipped on the dreaded high heels, cream colored patent leather. I am a girl who usually wears jeans and flats (preferably, flip-flops), so this was a foreign state for me to find myself in, to say the least. Truth be told, the suit’s a little small for me now, but it looked okay. I thought I looked pretty good and felt I would make a good impression.
I thought about saying I had a job interview in the area, so I thought I’d just…you know, “stop in.” I knew I couldn’t pull it off, though - I’m terrible at lying. I decided I would go to the unemployment office, which is pretty close to the office, to pick up a schedule of events. I would swing by the office too, since I’d be in the general vicinity. Besides, I had a book which had been loaned to me by the president last fall. “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. It’s a humongous tome, about nine hundred pages, and since I have the bad habit of reading three or four books at a time, I’d only just finished it. I could just say I wanted to return the book, since I was, sort of, in the neighborhood. Sounded kind of legitimate, and not too pathetic, right?
It was important to make sure my supervisor, as well as the company president were there when I went in. I scanned the parking lot for their cars and once I located them, I pulled into a space and shut off my engine. I sat for a minute and took a few deep breaths. I realized I was trembling and hoped I could keep it in check when I went in.
I was nervous at first, then I started to relax as four or five of my former co-workers came out to the lobby to see me. We stood around in a circle, chatting casually. Everyone acted glad to see me.
Then, as if he knew exactly why I had come, the president knitted up his eyebrows in that expression of sympathy and said; “Well, I wish I had better news for ya, darlin’. We’re only doing about half the business we should be now. We’re back to the numbers we saw in 2001.”
My heart fell. Nothing had changed. I made a little more small talk, then mumbled something about having to get going over to the unemployment office and I tried to move with some shred of dignity to the door.
It was hard to get out of bed for the next few days. I did, and I forced myself to go out and go through the motions of chores and errands, though I felt like a cinder block was sitting on my chest and a small, black cloud hung over me. I find it hard to reflect upon the day ahead and realize that I have no one to meet, and nothing of importance to do. The highlight of most of my days now is my walk with Rigby.
I realize now that I have to focus harder on finding a new job.