A slice from corporate America.
Just found my way! Opportunities opening…finally!
So excited. A whole new world on the horizon! Barriers I once thought impassable, now gone!
Congratulations given. And happily received. My mother-in-law says this is a big deal for me. My big break. The one I’ve waited years for.
A new life.
The old familiar reasons not to, they no longer apply. The beautiful burdens have flown the nest. I watch them fly.
Working hard. Really hard. Got to show them I have what it takes. To belong. To fit in. So much at stake! Never thought I’d get this chance to shine. Again. The 8 to 5. Almost like Dolly Parton in that old movie.
Amazing is what it is. This second time!
But, now that I’m here, I’ve gotta give it my all. I mean, seriously.
Gotta move it! Push it! Grind it!
Show them they weren’t wrong about me. Or my kind.
Gotta take it home.
Tweak it. Rework it. Perfect it. They will appreciate it. I know they will!
Gotta represent. My kids will be so proud!
After all, it’s all good work. Really good. I know my worth. What I bring here. I’m adding value. Here in the “real” world!
God knows I’ve added value before, but in another world. This new world feels different.
The old work had heart value. Soul value. They’re my legacy, for crying out loud! But, this work. This work pays money. It earns respect. It feels good!
All the work I put in now, it will help things flow smoothly. Get me noticed. And help the team! It’s about teamwork, this new world! But, aren’t they all?
Something has changed now.
A turn. Has occurred.
I know this in my bones. I can smell it. Taste it. All around me. The others sense it too.
But, I’ll get noticed. I’ve got to.
Somehow, in this short time. They’ll need me. Or else!
I really kick it into high gear now. Competition is all around.
That promising feeling has now morphed into something else. A beast of a different nature entirely.
Fear. Anxiety. Eggshells under my desk crunching. Must get it exactly right!
Better than right. Or else!
Must be indispensable. Must be known.
The tension rises around me. I’m not the only one. But, what I am is an outsider. I know this. They know it too. The ones who judge my worth.
Invisibility is not a good thing. Not like in the movies, where one can sneak around planning whatever hijinx one wants. They look right past me while smiling at the others. The promising ones.
The window of opportunity was not wide enough, it seems. I entered through too late. If only I had arrived a tad bit sooner, perhaps I would matter more. But, no, not now. My timing was off.
But, maybe they will see the talent! What I bring to the table!
After all, it’s right there in front of them. Right there, freakin’ in front of them! As plain as the nose on my face.
So many have thanked me for it, in fact. That felt good! And genuine.
But not them. They do not thank me. Their blinders do not allow them to see these things. They are looking at other things. They walk right by.
They see with different eyes. They answer to masters I do not see. Those who live in the shadows. Hidden from view. The ones whose opinions matter.
I think them cowards. And traitors. It’s all about the bottom line. And demographics and freshness. And the papers. The fresh ones, that is.
They don’t even look to see if my ways affect the bottom line for worse or for better. It makes no difference to them. It would just slow them down to figure it out. I’m not sure they know how.
I am not fresh. But I am wise. Beautiful in my own way.
They put me on a sort of hiatus. If I had been full-time, it would have been called a layoff, but I don’t even get a proper label for this thing.
I’m just expected to accept it. They owe me nothing. They make this clear.
“We’ll let you know if we need you,” they say. Yet, they do not call. Or text. Or email. I keep myself busy at home. A place I know well, but it’s different now.
It’s no longer my choice.
I check in with them from time to time. “Nope, we’re still good,” they say. I grow frustrated and tired. I’ve been so patient and true.
Until I wasn’t. I’ve had all a person can take. After all, I have my dignity. Finally, I push back.
“Why don’t you ever call me in to work?” I finally ask. (I see the others going. People talk. I have eyes to see). I choose email as my mode of communication.
“So, moving forward,” I ask as I compose my email, “what can I expect?” (These are the actual words I type).
“Moving forward” is part of their language. Something those in charge say, the enlightened ones. I have borrowed it from their exclusive dictionary. I am proud of this. Finally being assertive. Standing up for myself. Just like the self-help books say I should.
I look down at my laptop, and click on the recently populated reply to my original email, opening the new message.
“Moving forward,” the one in charge has replied to me, “your services are no longer required.”
What? Was it because I used those words? The words only the powerful ones are sanctioned to utter? I chastise myself. No, certainly not! That couldn’t be the reason! Ridiculous.
Stunned, I finish reading her reply. “Since you are not a full-time employee, no explanation is required. A separation notice will be sent by mail.”
“Thank you for letting me know.” I type the words. The knot swelling up in my stomach.
I hit send.
What else could I have said? If I hadn’t emailed her, I would be in the dark still.
They never intended to call me back in. To give me work. Even more disturbing than that, they never even bothered to tell me.
At least, now, I am free.