Graham approaches me. He’s the new boss. He’s not approached me in the few short weeks he’s been here. It’s a Friday morning. It’s Friday morning and the non-approaching new boss has approached me. He’s approached me at my desk. He looks troubled. A man struggling. He says, buy viagra help “Can I see you for a minute?”
Some of you may recognise this dance. You know what comes next. I look sheepishly at my closest proximity workmate.
I am first. Fifteen minutes later, Loy joins me. Then comes Scott. We shake hands. By the end of the day, ten people are with me. We few, we happy few, we band of…no-pay-chequers.
There are five distinct phases of retrenchment aftermath. Depending on the person, they occur in any order they damn well please. Sometimes it seems like there are more than five, but really, it’s just the same phases repeating themselves ad nauseam.
The stages, in no particular order, are:
Noodle Stage One - PURE JOY
First came enormous relief. It’s over. I don’t have to worry about it anymore, it has happened. Then there was the exaltation. Yippee! Followed hot on the heels by an intense period of excitement and dream building. No more albatross company. They’ve been holding me back. I should be writing proper stuff anyway. Time to show these idiots what they had. Now I can do what I really want to do.
At the time of impact, I become philosophical. I used my line on Graham. My tapestry line. It’s the second time I’ve used that line.
“Well, it’s certainly been a colourful row in the tapestry of my life.”
He laughed. To ease my pain. Though it seemed he was feeling it more than I. I don’t think I will use that line again. I might end up with a whole wall hanging of retrenchments one day, if I’m not careful.
I’ve been riding this dead horse so long it’s a skeleton; the bones bleached white from the Singapore sun. It was a cantankerous horse. You know, the kind that won’t get in the starting gate at the Melbourne Cup till the last minute. A nag. And now? Now I can go look for a big-hearted Phar Lap with staying power. I’m so happy and excited I can hardly keep still. I’m sitting in my chair and my leg won’t stop fidgeting. Loy has told me before that this is bad in Chinese culture—I’m shaking my money away.
Noodle Stage Two - PURE PANIC
It’s the first feeling when I wake up and the last feeling before I go to sleep. At the end of September, I will no longer have a job. As an expat in a strange land, this is freaky, freak time. I’m unsure what to do and I don’t feel particularly confident in my abilities. Why? Why has this happened? Haven’t I paid my dues? What am I going to do? Who will want a two-company collapse veteran? I had a chance to build a career as a proper writer and I blew it by moving into this Internet scam. My savings are minuscule. This is going to affect my green card application. This last, terrifying thought leads to…
Noodle Stage Three - PURE FURY
Those %@$*&!!! (insert an expletive suitable to the tolerance of your generation. Many people will be able to guess mine, or the string of expletives I’ve been using lately.) How dare they! I’ve suffered for these guys. I’ve not been paid overtime even though I was entitled. I’ve worked weekends. I’ve worked while on holiday. I uprooted my life to come here. They’ve still got the US$400 million in the bank and I’m sick to death of hearing about it.
I look for an arse to kick. I should be kicking mine.
What have I done? I threw away a dream and chased the money. The money never existed, not in any tangible fashion. HOW RUDE ARE THEY?! They really don’t know what they had sitting here in this office. They will see. One day. One day, I will be collecting my Pulitzer, my Emmy, my Oscar for screenwriting, my friggin’ award for whatever it may be and I won’t thank my family and friends, I’ll look that camera square in the eye and I’ll say “See this, see this? Well stick it up your arse!” (Sorry, Mum, I was angry). I hope it’s a really pointy award, like an ARIA. I don’t think I’ll win one of those unless I start writing songs, but man, one of those puppies would deliver about 10 acres of pain.
Please take a break here and repeat stages 2 and 3 a few times.
Noodle Stage Four - PURE DEPRESSION
Get out the Kleenex.
I lie in bed.
“Go for a run before work,” my brain says.
“No,” says the fat part of the cerebral cortex. “There is no point.”
I lie in bed.
I make myself go. For a brief moment, I feel in control of something. It’s a very brief moment. I slog to work. Have to serve out my time. I’m here until the 26th. I look at the people around me in the office. Everyone is at different stages in the retrenchment cycle. We aren’t meshing.
Scott is packing up all the gear around me, and well, quite frankly it’s really soul crushing. It’s like dressing someone in their coffin suit before they’re even dead. I hang onto my mouse a bit more tightly…I don’t want him taking it yet. I’ve still got some stuff to do. I have stuff to do. I have to tweak resumes, do portfolios, get out on the beat…but I can’t move. I can’t think. I breathe in and out. It’s the best I can do. I think about the farm. I think about Australia. My lovely friends. I’m really digging a nice, comfortable hole for my depression now. Would like to be somewhere where I know I’m loved. This is really bad. Sorry. Crushed. Failure. Overwhelmed.
I didn’t think any place could crush my spirit more than dstore. I don’t go for a Guinness. I know this is not a good time to drink.
Noodle Stage Five - RECOVERY
And then it’s ok. Eventually, in amongst all the other stages, I feel positive. I get a gritty outlook. This is going to be ok. I think about what people are saying to me.
“It gets better. You’ll be ok. It’s a catalyst.”
I think long and hard. I think about people I’d like to work with, things I’d like to do. It’s within my grasp to do them. It is within my grasp. Is it too far out of my realm to get a job with National Geographic? Is it too late to take up professional quoits? Can I just learn to surf and jump on the pro circuit?
I never did finish reading that book, the I could do anything if only I knew what it was because, well, as Jimi says, I know what I want, I just don’t know how to go about gettin’ it. I, of course, pick a difficult road, and where is that easy road anyway? Why don’t they signpost these things?
So, today, I give myself a right talking to. This is no time to curl into the foetal. This is no time to drop the whole tray of eggs and go for a sob in the corner. I have rent to pay, I have people to see, things to write, a life to live. I’ve finished my portfolio and I’ve tweaked the resume. Time to send out the feelers. Time is short, I know, but focus is essential. My needs are clear. I need to get a job. This is my goal and to this goal I pledge my troth.
So, again I say, don’t worry. I’m in ‘ok, two thumbs up, she’ll be apples’ mode. This battle, this war on retrenchment, will be fought by Noodle in Singapore. Otherwise, you might see me very soon. Whatever. I’m easy. First shout’s on you though.
Toodle-Noo. Here endeth the missive.
©Janeen McCrae 2002