Five years ago this week events unfolded that dramatically and irrevocably changed my family’s life. This is one of the first columns I wrote for The Spotlight four months later. It’s nice to reflect that if I could turn my car into a yellow time machine and go back to the future, I would stand in front that truck all over again.
Ever wonder what it feels like to get fired?
Let me tell ya.
Okay. Strictly speaking I was not fired four months ago from the largest newspaper company in Canada. Like many others I was downsized by Sun Media Corporation. Restructured.
It doesn’t matter what you call it.
Unemployed is unemployed.
For the purposes of this discussion we will refer to the experience as a “termination.”
It’s less pleasant than it sounds.
I understood that beforehand. For the better part of 28 years with Sun Media I participated in so many consolidations, executed so many cuts, that I don’t remember them all.
Those who live by the sword…
The first thing out of my mouth, following my termination meeting, was a string of dirty, filthy, rotten lies.
Whoppers they were.
I told friends, family, and colleagues that it was okay.
I said I was fine.
I was a train wreck.
I joked about how awesome it was going to be, taking the summer off, spending time with the kids and lounging around the pool, tanning.
I wanted to furl into a ball in the dankest corner of the basement and die.
Death is analogous to being terminated. The aftermath at least is like attending one’s own funeral.
People speak in whispers and talk about you in the past tense. Former co-workers feel guilty they are still alive …er…. employed. People grieve with you, but when the corners on the salmon salad sandwiches start to curl, they have to move on with their own futures.
Being terminated is devastating, and terrifying, and depressing. Thank goodness the people closest to me didn’t buy all that “I’m doing really wonderful” nonsense for a heartbeat.
There’s a reporter, for example, who drove 30 minutes to my house one day I was studiously ignoring her texts to hammer on the back door and holler: “GET OUT OF BED. IT IS NOON.”
Reluctantly I got out of bed to lie down on the floor.
There was the sales team that spent days preparing for a termination party that was so unforgettable everyone in attendance managed to remember it, despite the copious amount of wine that flowed.
My husband and family suggested I take a month and go to the cottage alone. Just to clear my head. There was, probably, an ulterior motive such as getting the body out of the parlour.
And there was a friend in B.C., publisher of the Gulf Island Driftwood, who emailed me a posting for The Similkameen Spotlight along with a tender note that said: “If you don’t apply for this job you are an idiot.”
Don’t expect me to slag off Sun Media.
That company raised me from a pup, gave me experiences and offered me opportunities beyond my young dreams. Some of it was earned. Some of it was standing in the right place at the right time.
Sun Media paid my mortgage. It put food on the table. It gave my boys summer holidays and hockey schools, and helped get my daughter to Queen’s University.
One of my earliest jobs with Sun – we weren’t setting in lead type but it was almost that long ago – was editor and publisher of a weekly community paper much like The Spotlight, with a staff of three.
When I walked out of the upstairs corner office for the last time I left behind a group of ten newspapers, and some of the finest people in the Ontario newspaper industry.
Popular culture is too full of “when God closes a door, somewhere she opens a window” moments. I blame Facebook.
There are so many storm and rainbow metaphors they are cliché and it’s difficult to find one that is new, and has meaning.
But try this.
If you happen to be on a mountain road and are hit by an 18-wheeler hauling lumber, do not leap to the conclusion that it is a bad thing. You might not be dead. You might not even be permanently injured.
Getting hit by that truck will obviously change your day, to say nothing of the rest of your life. But it’s possible you were actually standing in the right place at the right time.
The Cascade Mountains are already home for myself and my family. I’m so enjoying being part of Black Press, a company that is growing and vibrant, and shares my passion for print and digital media and community.
I work with some of the finest people in the B.C. newspaper industry. And I have a new corner office.
That would be at the intersection of Bridge Street and Angela Avenue.
It’s on the ground floor, where my feet feel very firmly planted.