Ever have one of those jobs that ties your gut into knots? The kind that you have to stay at for some insane yet valid reason and all attempts to leave fall flat as a pancake? If you can relate, read on—
I Ate Cake
The day started out like all the others had recently. I went into work, listening to “Crash and Burn” streaming loud and wondered if today could be the day I either get fired or lose it and quit. The churning in my gut that had become so routine lately rolled around like a bowling ball. And I wondered, for perhaps the thousandth time, when my happy—or at least acceptable—job had turned into a cesspool of toxicity.
Perhaps it was my new boss. He had a personality that made Dennis the Menace seem like a choirboy and Count Dracula like Prince Charming. We clashed . . . over everything. Except for the times I was invisible to him. To be honest, I wasn’t sure which extreme I preferred. Beyond the new boss, there were plenty of other frustrating factors that created a tumultuous work day.
It was no surprise when four months ago I decided to get serious about a change of work scenery so I dusted off my resume, freshened it up with new power words and sent it out. Not much happened. A few promising leads and interviews fizzled out like stale soda and I stayed cemented in quicksand. Each day found me wondering if today was going to be ‘the day’?
It hadn’t happened yesterday. So if not today, maybe tomorrow. The whole walking on eggshells mentality wasn’t helping my nerves either. I’d stare at the bright red, glowing ‘Exit’ sign and just sigh and shake my head.
The summons to the office—or lair—seemed ambiguous enough. I’ve been requested a few times already and trepidation accompanied me with each trip. In the end, it would be for some vague reason and I left unscathed. So I headed back to the lair once again, unsure once more of the reason and ultimate outcome. Could it today? What have I possibly done?
Heart hammering, I stood, feeling much like a cadet singled out for an inspection. Today?
“Going to have to let you go.”
The words, sandwiched with a distracted frown and spoken over a computer screen, fell with the force of a nine pound hammer. I went cold. Ice Bucket Challenge had nothing on me. Questions rose and I swallowed them all back. They tasted like heartburn. Bitter. What did reasons and explanations really matter? The picture was pretty clear. Besides, Count Menace wasn’t a great conversationalist on the best of days and today wasn’t looking to be a good day.
So I silently nodded my understanding and acknowledged his desire for my quick retreat. I uttered a few non-descript words, wheeled around and exited, with my shoulders back and head held high.
Legs trembling, I gathered my few personal effects, turned a deaf ear to my co-workers startled comments and silently counted backwards. Suddenly I didn’t feel like making conversation.
Interestingly, I’d always pictured when the day came, I’d be a nervous wreck, full of fears. Instead, my mind was clear. I knew that whatever happened, this moment would end up being a pivotal blessing. I’d end up alright. I was making good my escape. Finally.
Driving home, I stopped at the bakery and impulsively bought a devil’s food chocolate layer cake and a half gallon of milk. I was going to be okay.