Not far from my house, there is a pond about 1/3 acre big outside of a local corporation’s building complex. Early last week on my way home from work, I peered to my right (because just driving is so boooooring, you know?) to look at the waterfowl that like to hang out there. Most of the time I see white geese and mallard ducks.
Then I noticed the pelicans.
"What the…?" I said to myself, at a loss for words even inside my head. I pulled off the road and got out of my car to see if I actually saw what I thought I saw. Sure enough:
I counted eight of them in a little flock, just hanging out on the side of the pond by the road. Big, bright white and beautiful… and one with a distended gular pouch (that big throat flap that hangs down from its bill where they hold their fishy food; yes I had to google it). Those bills are really, really long. ("She’s all beak, man!")
As I crept closer, they slowly moved into the water. One spread its wings, presumably to show me how big and powerful and scary he/she was so that I wouldn’t come closer. Like I was going to jump in and try to eat it, right? But the beautiful black banding on the underside of its impressive wingspan was amazing.
Not something that I expected from a boring drive home from work. I’ve never seen pelicans in the wild (if you count a man-made pond as the wild). I only had my phone with me at the time and the photos I took with it didn’t really come out, so I stopped by again last night to see if they were still there. I had to trespass on the company’s property and walk halfway around the pond to get these shots, stepping over curiously large mounds of duck poop both ways.
I’m still trying to sort out my reaction to being laid off, so writing about the beauty of unexpected roadside pelicans is a nice diversion and more zen than dwelling on my underlying anxiety of an uncertain future.
Yesterday afternoon, after the initial shock of the conference room group lay-off, I spent an hour or so talking with several of my coworkers who weren’t laid off. They were all very apologetic and shocked themselves, similar to how I’ve reacted during previous lay-offs when I was not affected. I was touched by the genuine nature of their consolation, their immediate efforts to help me find a new job through their own networks, and their assurance that it will be easy for me find another job with my "level of talent." I already miss working with them.
My biggest anxiety yesterday afternoon was how to tell Ben, who kept leaving messages on my desk phone because he wanted to know when I could leave work for a special no-occasion weeknight dinner at the Chinese Buffet. (That’s what I wrote about yesterday: When life hands you lemons, buy a fish.)
Other than that, I focused my attention on obtaining contacts from my coworkers and making sure that people I liked and respected had my personal contact information. My boss is "transitioning" back to the sales department, so I offered my services as a contractor to his boss, who is now in charge of what’s left of the marketing department.
As the writer and editor, I worked with a lot of different people in different departments. My job is being split among three different people, and it makes me sad that my efforts to create and maintain cohesive and creative branded communication will most certainly disappear quickly in the hands of people who don’t care, don’t have the time, or don’t have the talent to make that happen. That may sound pompous, but I take pride in my writing and have learned that it’s a vocation above all else. That was a really hard lesson to learn. I’ve been thinking about creating a separate blog that is strictly about my journey as a writer.
Ironically, I spent my lunch hour the day before I was laid off looking at "becoming a full-time freelance writer" books at Barnes & Noble. I’ve been seriously thinking about pursuing freelance writing gigs and had been working out a plan to transition out of my job in the next year. So while the lay-off was unexpected, it won’t hurt me as much as it did my other coworkers who needed the insurance, were the family breadwinners, etc.
Ben and I will be on a more strict budget in the near future, but it won’t be that much of a change for us considering that the majority of our extra pennies were begrudgingly going toward home improvement anyway.
I’m going into the office this afternoon to collect my personal belongings from my cubicle and to share some tidbits of importance with the VP who will be over marketing. Though I do kind of want to stomp up and down and scream an obscenity or two, just to be immature because things didn’t pan out the way I wanted them to, I’m not dumb enough to burn a bridge where I think I could easily be hired back part-time as a contactor or full-time in the future if/when the company gets its act together. Not that I necessarily want to go back there full-time.
I was told that I was the most difficult lay-off decision they had to make, and whether or not that’s total bullshit, I can’t help but daydream about the day that I get a phone call begging me to come back.
Sounds like a classic break-up emotion, doesn’t it?
I’m still trying to parse all of the things that are running through my mind right now, but overall I’m feeling good about being dumped by my company. It’s given me motivation to do something productive and enjoyable rather than plodding along because I’m too wimpy to give up a steady paycheck. I’ve really gained confidence as a writer in the past couple years and have proven myself as an editor and valuable "creative" on a talented marketing team.
I have no idea what challenges lay ahead of me, but I’m not going to sit around and wait for opportunity to knock on my door. I’m going out with a telescoping lens and a bullhorn to find it. And then I’ll write about it.