I returned to my Chicago-area office for the first time in 4 months yesterday.
My initial reaction was surprise at the paucity of cars in the parking lot. Normally by that time in the morning, I'd have to park in a far distant corner of the lot. Not so yesterday.
Upon entering the building, cubicles that had been occupied in January were vacant now. The tone was muted among the people having conversations in the hallway. Well, except for one.
"What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be here," called out someone that I never really liked.
"Good to see you, too," I muttered.
A loose leaf piece of paper was taped to a cube at the top of the row. My name had been removed as occupying the last cube, near the window, though my nameplate still hung there. The monitor was gone, but then again I had told them they could take the PC that had been parked there since I had a laptop. The phones were gone, but they had deactivated my office number months ago.
I kicked around that morning talking to the people who were still going to be working there. The rumor mill had it that another layoff was coming in July. "And it's gonna be bigger."
They are the Left Behind. They're holding on to what they have despite a far-from-certain future. I'd imagine they are looking for work elsewhere as a hedge against the day they get the cryptic looking meeting notice on their calendar. ("Work Discussion" was the title of mine back on April 4.)
I had my exit interview with HR yesterday. It was a briefing, mainly, on what was going to happen to my benefits come the end of this month, the end of next month. How the regular paychecks would continue to come up through the first week in June even though my services were no longer required after Friday, May 12. How I'd get a lump sum represented a large chunk of weeks if I signed the release stating that I wouldn't sue them for wrongful termination.
After speaking with the HR rep, they brought in a gentleman from "Right Services" which is an outplacement firm. I told him that I was living in Maryland now and that starting a discussion about the area. He had attended school first near Baltimore and then at a seminary in the District. I suppose I'll hear from them on Monday, but they weren't able to take any of my contact information yesterday.
After our chat, I went to lunch and then to my parents' home where I'm staying for these couple of days, skipping the mostly empty cubicle farm for the rest of the afternoon. I'm staying away today, too, since there's really nothing I need to do there, and my telecommuter agreement is still in force anyway. If they need me, I can go in, but I doubt it.
Tomorrow, I'll turn in my laptop, secure card and badge. I'll go to lunch and not go back ever again. It's a very liberating feeling, and one that I hope the Left Behind get to feel soon for the sake of their own sanity.