Tuesday, August 7, 2007

On Walking Out Gracefully

We lost an employee in my office today.

Not one to be spreading rumors, I'll admit that I don't know whether she left because she'd found a better position or because she'd been axed. The mind does funny tricks, though. She left without telling anyone she was going. Why? Was she fired? Did she really not make friendly enough connections over the past 9 months of working with us that she truly didn't tell a single soul in our office that she was leaving? It's mighty strange.

Anyway, here is the sequence of events as I recalled them. My boss appeared to be extremely antsy and agitated today (not the best day to advocate for a raise - the subconscious is powerful, folks). I was in his office telling him today was the absolute deadline for him to renew my student loan benefit or I wouldn’t receive a payment next month. I lingered around his desk, hoping my silence and hopeful aura would spur him to say something – anything – like, “don’t worry, I’ll advocate for something good for you.” No. Instead he said, agitatedly, “I’ve got to talk to these people.”

As I turned to leave his office, I overheard him say, to Human Resources on the phone, “I just took an ‘Administrative Action.’”

What does it mean to take an “Administrative Action?” Whatever that meant, it sounded ominous to me. Who got canned???

Minutes later, the woman who later left, for good, could be overheard shuffling things on her desk. My paranoia-sharpened hearing detected the sounds of a desk being packed up, permanently. You could cut the tension in the air with a knife. I listened: shuffling, packing, shuffling, papers-rustling, packing. Wow – could she really be leaving? Is she the one? What happened?

There were no goodbyes. She just walked out of the office. Calmly, collectedly took her purse and left.

My boss went into the room where our office servers are located – several times. Great; he’s killing her profile one nanosecond after her heels click out the door! Minutes later, he walked back to her desk, sat down and started going through her computer.

He said, pointing towards himself, “Guys, you’re looking at the new [her former position]!” No one said a word, not one single word, but my gosh the tension was unbearable. No one dared speak.

I heard him mumble something about losers as he punched on the keyboard. And that was that.

Working on the Hill is **TENSE,** folks! Definitely not for the weak of mettle!

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