Exactly one year ago today, I got fired from BCC.On November 3rd, 2008, I walked into my office, got my coffee as usual, and turned on my computer.
It was Monday morning, the Monday after Halloween, so everyone was in a pretty good mood, ready to tell funny stories from the parties they went to. Who had the best costume, who got the most drunk, who looked like a total idiot, all that fun stuff.
I walked down the hall past Melissa, who was my assistant at the time, but never liked to admit that I was "kind of" her boss. I said hi to her, and expected her to be excitedly telling me how insane her Halloween party was, but she paid no attention to me. She looked pissed. I found out later she had gotten canned right before me, along with half the company, including the entire Rogers office.
Past her office I turned into mine and sat down at my chair, coffee steaming on the granite coaster next to my phone, still too hot to sip, with the early morning sunlight peaking through the blinds behind me. I opened my email to see what I had and started to prepare for the Monday morning staff meeting which was to begin at 8:30.
At that point it was probably still a few minutes before 8:00.
My desk phone lit up and did the little bleep-bleep sound that means someone else in the office is trying to get ahold of you. Before I could glance towards the phone to see whose extension it was coming from, I heard my boss say "Hey bud."
It wasn't the boss that usually called me, it was The Boss. The top guy.
"Hey, man." I said, trying not to sound freaked out.
"Can you come in here for just a minute?"
"Sure." I said, grabbed my coffee, and headed down the hall.
I wanted to have my coffee in my hand, even though it was still way to hot to sip, because I knew this was going to be bad and I needed to look busy and productive. I also wanted to have something in my hand to hold on to. When you get bad news you need some sort of action you can do to soften the moment. A slow sip of coffee was perfect.
Walking down the hall my mind was reeling as to what this could have been about. I had been doing a pretty good job lately, and they had just given me a raise two months before.
I went into his office and noticed my other boss was in there too, looking like he didn't what to be there.
He asked me to shut the door and have a seat.
At that point I knew that one of two things were going to happen; they were either going to let me know that something I did caused them to lose a shit-ton of money, or they were going to fire me.
I got that sinking feeling in my stomach.
The owner, the main boss, said "Jacob, I'm going to hit you with this hard and quick. You were one of the last ones to come on and you're going to be one of the first ones to go."
Then he said some crap about the economy and having to cut back and blah blah blah. The only part I really heard was when he said they appreciated my hard work and they were going to give me a severance check. He said they hoped the best for me and would be happy to give me a good reference any time.
I said okay and got up to walk out. He stopped me and handed me a check from his desk drawer for $2,500. It was already made out and signed.
I shook their hands and walked out.
It was really strange to walk back out into the hallway, because everything else was happening as usual. No one really knew except the bosses and the accountant who cut the check.
I walked back down to my office and sat in my chair. I hadn't really taken a breath yet. I started to do some stuff and then just said screw it, grabbed my keys, and walked out the front door.
It wasn't even 8:10 yet.
I had no idea what to do, so I just drove out into the country to think and plan and figure out what I was going to tell my wife. I drove around for a long time, and never really did anything. Mostly I was just freaked out. I made a few calls, but nothing really made sense. People couldn't talk, they were all at work.
I didn't want to go home until I had at least something lined up to do from there. I finally got in touch with a guy who had been my only real backup plan in case I got canned. He asked me to come in for an interview at 2:00pm.
At that point I was excited, but still very open to the idea that he would most likely have nothing for me.
I went home and my wife knew something was up. I told her in the same breath that I had gotten fired but that I also had an interview at 2:00 at a good company.
It was a small victory for me because I had always hoped that I would be able to say something like that in case I ever lost my job. But it wasn't much.
I had never been fired before.
I met the guys at the new company at 2:00 and we talked for a short while and then got down to business. I had known them for a long time so there wasn't much "tell me about yourself" kind of stuff. They knew I was a hard worker and would be a great addition to the team.
The only real, direct question he asked me was "Who are you voting for tomorrow?"
The next day, Tuesday the 4th, was Election Day. McCain or Obama. I knew that he was a die hard republican, so I didn't really want to answer. I made a joke about how it was supposed to be illegal to ask questions like than in an interview. He didn't budge. I thought about my wife and kid for a second and told him I'd vote for Mickey Mouse if he offered me a job.
It was a small cut in pay but I took it with utmost enthusiasm.
I called my wife and told her I'd be starting in the morning at RAW.
I drove back across town to clean out my old office that I had left that morning, coffee still hot, at 8:10am. When I walked in some of the guys came over to say they were sorry about me getting canned. I told them everything and said I couldn't be happier, I had a better job in one pocket and a $2,500 check in the other.
Life is hard, but it is good.