Single In The Suburbs, Installment 135

After confiding in Craig about her possible unemployment, Sara’s making the trek down the hall to find out if she’s lost her job.

By Sara Susannah Katz

To read the entire series of articles from the beginning, click here.

n our last installment, our writer had entered her boss’s office with her shoulders squared and her mind steeled against news that she’d been laid off. Worse, she’d confided her fears in Craig, not Ethan. But was her confession made prematurely?

Wednesday, 1:45 p.m.
My boss is sitting at her desk. Her face is the color of cement and her eyes are black and baggy. She’s never been a beauty queen but this is the worst I’ve seen her look in all my years with the company. Sitting beside her is the head of HR. He
My mind cannot process what my ears are hearing.
starts talking while my boss puts a clenched fist over her mouth and looks somewhere off in space. I once heard that if you’re called into a meeting and the head of HR is there, you’re a goner. It’s like seeing the Grim Reaper. You might as well turn around and pack up your stuff.

So now the HR guy is talking. Something about financial reasons forcing the organization to undergo a major restructuring and consolidating... we must eliminate your position... we will do whatever we can to help you secure employment... we will write you an excellent letter of recommendation...

Whatever. My mind cannot process what my ears are hearing. I am there physically but my mind is already somewhere else, a total out-of-body experience. I am thinking, OK, what can I sell? I can sell my plasma TV. I can sell my own plasma to the blood bank. I can sell myself. Surely there’s a market out there for a middle-aged prostitute with cellulite, right? That last one was just a joke, but I feel almost that desperate. The HR guy is still talking. He looks pained. He feels sorry for me. My boss still won’t make eye contact. At some point I realize this conversation is over because the HR guy has stood up and is sort of gesturing towards the door and the hallway beyond it. “Thank you for all your hard work,” I hear him say. “I hope you would consider rejoining the company should we open up your position again in the future.” He puts something into my hands; a folder. He murmurs, “This is for you to read whenever you’re ready.” I feel as if I’ve been kicked in the gut. Hard.

I wish I could tell these two that I’m a trust fund baby, that my grandfather owns an oil company and that I’m going to Daytona Beach. Wouldn’t that be a fabulous way to make my exit? But the closest I’ll ever get to an oil company is filling up at the gas station. And just how will I afford that now, exactly?

Somehow I manage to make it back to my office. I open up the folder. It’s got information about continuing my health insurance and how to file for unemployment. I have never lost a job in my life. I don’t even know where the unemployment office is located.

My office phone rings. I watch my hand reach
I sit at my desk and stare out of the window. Now what?
out to pick up the receiver and hear a faraway voice answering it, almost like a question. “Hello?”

It’s Craig. “Tell me,” he urges.

“I was canned.”

“Oh. Sara. I’m so sorry. Can I do anything? Can I—”

“No. Thanks. I’ll be fine.”

I watch my hand put the phone down. I sit at my desk and stare out of the window. Now what?

I go back to the restroom to fix my makeup. There are three women in there now, all from the mysterious department known as “Process Improvement.” I don’t know what that means, I don’t know what they do and I don’t even know any of their names. All I know is that they’re crying. All three of them. One is sobbing quietly, one is bellowing, and the third is laughing. But not ha-ha funny laughing. It’s the kind of laughing that happens when you’ve been crying so hard you’ve lost all control of your facial muscles and your body forgets whether you were supposed to be crying or laughing because, physiologically, it’s practically the same thing. Then one of them stops and says, “I don’t know about you ladies, but I’m going to the Office Lounge and I’m getting smashed. Anyone want to come with me?”

Attention, faithful fans of Single in the Suburbs! Our writer, Sara, will be winding down her column with the final installment scheduled to appear in October 2010. We’d love to hear how the ongoing saga of Sara’s love life has affected you personally. Have you tried online dating yourself? Have you struggled to re-enter the dating world after the end of a long-term relationship? Did Sara’s story encourage you to get out there and date again? Send your thoughts to Your comments and stories may be included in a follow-up article discussing the series’ overall impact and what Sara sees for herself in the future.

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 136

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Men: Which of these grooming changes would you make for the right woman?

I'd shave off all my facial hair

I'd grow a beard/mustache/goatee

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