My boss was already at work, and that was a surprise because I almost always beat him in. As I passed his office, instead of his usual ready smile, he said, “Come in please,” and shut the door.
I had seen this coming for months though none of my friends would believe me. “You?” they all said. “Ridiculous!”
I knew better. You begin to get it when you’re left out of an email chain here and a meeting there. Every morning at the beginning of your workday, somehow your desk seems a few inches closer to the exit. Is it my imagination? you wonder for a while. But sooner or later you’re not surprised when your boss invites you into his office and closes the door.
I accepted a generous severance and promised not to sue the company. My boss lifted the cartons of stuff I’d accumulated into my car for me – potted English ivy, framed photographs, and a pencil holder my son made in third grade.
We wished each other well. Then it was over.
By noon, I was buoyant. “It was for the best!” “A blessing in disguise!” “No more pressure!” All me.
By dinnertime, I was depressed. “I have no idea what my next move is.” “I’ll never get another job.” Me again.
A few weeks later, I was somewhere in the middle. Hopeful as I prepped for interviews. Realistic when email arrived later in the day with the dreaded: “Best of luck in your job search.”
Then it came to me.
I tried out my idea on a neighbor who kindly wondered why he’d seen me home so much. I told him I’d lost my job and had been applying for new ones, but nothing was happening.
“I decided I’m going to write,” I said, listening to how that sentence sounded wafting through the air.
“Really?” he said. “I didn’t know you were a writer.”
If he meant had I ever made a comfortable living as a writer, the answer was “no.” If he meant had anyone ever heard of me, again, negative.
But I’d put the words out there, and summoning up confidence that had been hiding for a while, I put a plan in place. And I waited for a sign.
I was in a park, jotting down observations in the notebook I carry everywhere. A boy, about 10, sat down next to me. His dad was off to the side, watching expectantly, and I wondered what this was all about. The boy held out a stack of copy paper, mercilessly stapled down one side. The cover read ROBOTS in bold lettering, with an ambitious illustration.
“Hi,” he said. “I’m a writer. I have this book for sale for $1. Just to warn you, it might be scary in some parts.” I loved his confidence. I mourned mine.
I complimented him on his wording and his drawing. Then I bought his book.
“Is it hard to be a writer?” I asked.
“Not at all,” he said, and he took off for the swings.