My company was forced to do some down-sizing this week. I still have a job and for that I am grateful, but I am still sorting out the impact this has had on me.
You see, in August of 2008 I was offered a new position at work. It was something new, a challenge and I was excited about it. I'd be reporting to a woman I didn't know well at all. We worked in different buildings and had almost no contact. As soon as I accepted the job, I was told that my new boss would be leaving within a week. She was relocating to a facility in another state. I would still report to her, but now it would be from 2,500 miles away.
I wasn't sure how or if this whole thing would work. But it did.
Over the past year and a half, she and I spent no more than 8-10 days in the same state. And yet, we developed through phone, email and IM an amazing relationship. What evolved from that daily electronic connection is a profound bond of mutual trust, honesty and respect. She has been there for me every step of the way with encouragement, support and the occasional kick in the ass when needed. I like to think I was able to do the same for her.
This past week, our company closed down that other facility and this brilliant lady is out of a job. I know that it won't be for long. She is strong, positive and enormously talented. I have no doubt that she will find another position. I only hope they appreciate what a treasure she is.
As for me, this week has been a blur. We knew this was coming. Correction: we knew *something* was coming. (You'd have to have your head up your ass not to notice that the business had dropped by 50%.) She and I talked about it and tried to prepare as best we could.
The axe fell on Wednesday. It was immediate and well-orchestrated. Within an hour of the facility closing, all of those people disappeared from email and IM. I understand that management must operate this way to preserve what's left of this company if we have any hope of recovering. Logically, intelectually, I understand this. I've been through this before with other companies.
It's never easy. Layoffs suck - for everyone. For those who lose their jobs, for those who have to deliver that news and for those left behind to wonder if they're next. No matter how prepared you think you are, it still hits you like a sucker punch in the gut.
The rest of the week was filled with re-organizational meetings. More blurs. Notes, discussions, redistribution of the work, etc, etc, etc. Focusing on the task at hand makes it a little easier to hold back the grief.
I am heartbroken.
Driving home on Friday, I finally let loose the tears I'd been holding back for days. And in that release, I understood. If you had asked me a month ago, I'd have told you I loved my job. Loved everything about it, found it fullfilling and challenging. Every day a new adventure! Yes, I loved my job.
What I realize now is that I loved working for this woman. It was not the process, it wasn't the work, it was the boss who made my experience there each day such a joy.
It was her. Her name is Laura.
She was my boss.
She is my friend.
We will keep in touch. We promised each other. Phone calls and emails. Yes, if I am sure of anything it's that this friendship will endure.
And one day for sure, we'll find ourselves together on a beach somewhere, sipping margaritas.
So long, my friend.