September 6, 2009"Debra," says Victor, "it's absolutely not personal, and I hope you understand that." He's sitting on the desk in the back room, with Lanie behind the desk in the chair.
"Not personal? Victor, you're basically putting me out on the street, and unless I'm misunderstanding something, it's because I cost too much." I try to keep as calm as possible, remembering some of the lessons I learned about my relationship with supervisors a couple of years ago.
Lanie jumps in. "That's not exactly fair, Debra. With business down overall, we just don't feel like we need a manager on duty every weeknight. Pat has seniority, so if we're going to keep only one of you, it really has to be her."
"Well, I'd be happy to go back to being a barmaid. I'm not too proud to take that step backwards if that's what you're worried about. And I have good relationships with all the girls."
"We know you do, but the problem is, we've replaced you a couple of times over, and they're making less than you were when you moved up. So even if we got rid of one of them..."
"You'd still be spending more money on me," I finish for her, and she nods.
"Listen, we won't contest your unemployment claim," Victor says, handing me an envelope that contains two weeks' severance pay, something I'll be assured later by a lawyer friend that they weren't in the least bit obligated to give me.
Lanie adds, "And you're an incredibly capable woman, we know you'll find another job."
"With business down overall?" I ask, and Lanie winces a little. "Sorry. Okay. Can I have a letter of reference, at least?"
"Debra, of course," she says. "In fact, why don't you write it? Just say what you'd want us to say, and we'll sign it."
I laugh, pondering all the possibilities. It's not until I'm on my way home that it really starts to set in - six years of my life. Six years of dedication to a job is supposed to be a good thing, employers are supposed to value and honor that.
Oh, God, what am I going to tell Jenny? She's only just barely recovered from what happened this summer, this kind of bad news could set her back. I'm so exhausted from it all... and I can only imagine how she feels.
I have two weeks' pay in my hands, some money in the bank, and unemployment insurance on the way in a few weeks. If I get another job in the next month or two, I'll be just fine, and there's no reason she has to know I lost this one until I actually start the next one. I'll just find some place to hang out on the nights I would've been working. I'll even get some writing done for a change. This is absolutely the right thing to do.
It'll be much better this way.