Thursday, September 11, 2008

We are having our own last supper, of sorts.

I just made dinner for the kids and me. I made some for Michael, too, but he is staying at his office quite late today. He's cleaning out his office, to be exact. After all, tonight is the last night before he goes in for his last day at his current company.

We're hoping this lay-off or whatever it's supposed to be called will lead to an even better opportunity. He had such high hopes for this company, but we see now that some things were not only never going to progress, but were actually changing for the worse.

Does that mythical company where hard work and talent are rewarded by gratitude, increased trust, increased pay, job security, and - dare to dream - possibly a little bit of recognition even exist? He doesn't do what he does for the recognition, by any means. He does what he does because he loves it. From the sound of his evaluations, his business contacts, and his trainees, it sounds like he does it extremely well, too. It's just hard to see him being subject to the whims of the business world. In his heart of hearts, he wants to be with one company for the rest of his career, building a program from nothing and making it the most outstandingly effective, best run program the pharma or mental health field has ever seen. He used to think he wanted to be a vice president or CEO of one of these companies, but he's since decided that he probably isn't heartless enough to do what they do so often.

I don't think I'll post all the details of how this particular loss came about. I'll just write the basics of what's happened. A couple of weeks ago, Michael called me from his office. He sounded absolutely sick; I could just imagine his face looking ashen and his head and shoulders hanging low. He had the feeling he was about to lose his job. His immediate superior at the company had denied that anything was going on, saying that he had no problems with the job Michael was doing. Still, we're sure he was given this prompting for a reason, so we began to prepare for the worst.

The most painful part of this experience for him has been his confusion over the whole situation. How could he get the rave reviews and evaluations he's been getting, but then have his legs cut right out from under him? If he hadn't pressed his supervisor that next Monday and finally told him that he KNEW something was going on, we don't know when the company would have broken all this to Michael. As it turns out, the man was planning to have Michael teach this last group of trainees, then make his last day the same as the last day of the training class. That brings us back to tomorrow.

So tomorrow is his last day. He's not being fired. He didn't do anything wrong. In fact, he's been doing an excellent job and has received excellent feedback from trainees, from employees in the field, from outside contacts he's worked with on behalf of the company, and from other supervisors. The company is just going a different direction and won't be needing the service he provides any more. They want someone else to do the small part of his job that they'll continue to need - someone who can also do another job for which Michael is not qualified.

Still, the whole thing just feels creepy. He only knows of one person in this office of dozens who knows that he'll be leaving at all, much less that tomorrow is the last time he'll be in that office. Can you imagine their confusion when they see him go home tomorrow, leaving an empty office behind? No farewell luncheon, no gold watch, no expressions of concern and good luck for Michael and his family. Conveniently for the company, they won't even have to pay out his end-of-year bonus, most of which he has already earned. Conveniently for his supervisor, the guy isn't even going to be in the office tomorrow. (We suspect that before Michael had pushed for information about is own fate, the supervisor had planned to have the HR woman hand him a severance package agreement just after all these trainees were supposed to leave tomorrow. As it is, they barely got it to him before his last day.) Why is this feeling like such a shameful thing when he didn't do anything wrong? Are they afraid the other employees would revolt, demanding that he be kept on or they'll all walk out? (Not likely, but somewhat of a satisfying fantasy.)

He is pretty sure his semi-replacement is already hired and is just waiting in the wings to occupy his office. In fact, he's completely sure because some dolt at the conference he was supposed to attend next week has recently sent an email with the new guy's name on it to Michael's email address. Duh. It seems the new guy is coming on just in time to get a free trip to San Diego!

So we'll say we're on to bigger and better things. I've been helping rewrite and adjust his resumes and objectives so the things we highlight are geared toward the different jobs for which he's been applying. (Not easy to do when you've got training classes to teach just about every minute of your last 2 weeks.) It's fun to see him getting excited about the possibilities at these new places, seeing how his particular set of qualifications fits so uniquely into some of these job descriptions. It's good to see him have hope that he may find that mythical company one day. Most importantly, we keep praying for the wisdom to know which of these opportunities (and others that may be yet to come) will turn out to be the right one, the strength to make it through whatever we have to go through until he gets a new job, the confidence to proceed with whatever changes we may have to make, and the patience to have it all happen according to the Lord's timetable rather than our own.

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