The Surprise Meeting

It’s 9 am and it’s one of the few days that you’re back in the office since COVID.  It’s going to be a big day for the team, as they get ready to kick off the agile transformation with a team meeting to answer all the highly anticipated questions like will my job change or will there be a redundancy? So, you do the sensible thing and get in early enough to make sure you get a spot to sit knowing that the whole team will be in and spaces are limited. Today you’re lucky enough to get a single desk by the window overlooking the bustling streets with a clear view of the sunny sky.

People start to roll in and the room starts to fill with such good energy.  You do the usual rounds to catch up with colleagues and talk about what’s happened in the last 6 months since you last saw each other.  You grab a cup of tea and make your way to your desk and start checking email.  Suddenly a new meeting invite pops in right before the big team meeting and it’s just for you.  You tilt your head ever so slightly, is this what you think it is?  Will there be a redundancy?  So you ask your colleague if they got a similar invite and they didn’t.  You accept the meeting which is in 15 minutes and now the time goes ever so slowly.  Tik tik tik. . . 5 minutes til the meeting and you grab your notebook and jokingly tell your colleague, ‘10 bucks says I’m being made redundant.’  You both smile and giggle, but as soon as you walk into that meeting you just know.  Your joke is about to come true.

They go through the script, ‘It’s nothing personal… with the changes happening this role is no longer needed.’  You pick up words here and there but to be honest it starts to feel like a Charlie Brown cartoon where the adults are talking to the kids.  ‘Wamp, wamp, wamp, wamp.’  A thousand questions and thoughts and what-ifs pop into your head, but what can you do?  Then they pause and ask for your thoughts and feelings.  All of a sudden it feels like that George Clooney movie, “Up in the Air”, where he comes in to let people go and has a nice folder filled with all the great severance details.  But it’s not George Clooney, it’s not a movie, this is your life.

At that moment feel gutted, outraged, and heartbroken.  How should you respond? Do you let loose and tell them how you really feel?  Do you stay silent and leave them guessing?  I mean the decision has been made and the clock is ticking.  The team meeting is in 5 minutes right next door to where you are.  A meeting you will not be joining and you now somehow have to pull it together because you’re going to have to walk out of this room into a world that once made sense.

You opt in for the honest yet controlled response even though you want to rage, but what good will that do?  So for the 5 minutes that you have left to share your feelings and thoughts, you ask where your responsibilities will be going and tell them how being made redundant will negatively impact your life.  But deep down inside, you and I know, it doesn’t matter.  If they wanted to keep you they would have found a way and that’s the honest truth that no one is willing to admit.  As the saying goes, ‘If there’s a will, there’s a way’.

You haven’t finished your redundancy conversation but time is up.  They casually mention that they’ve brought a therapist onsite should you need someone to talk to.  You kindly reject- there’s just something odd about laying on a couch in your now former workplace and divulging all the emotions and thoughts running through your head.  The team is heading your way and you need to quickly wipe the tears and make sure your mascara isn’t running and put on a brave face. Why of all days did you decide that you would wear eyeliner?

You walk out of the room and as the team heads to the big meeting you just pass them all and smile, acting as if there’s nothing to see.  They don’t know and they won’t know for at least another week what just happened.  Things start to sink in- you’ve been made redundant, let go, laid off, and you’re no longer needed.  It’s like you need to hit the eject button but in an elegant, nonchalant kind of way.  You grab your things and exit stage left. 

It will be one of the last times you step back into that world.

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Pegah Kamal

Author: Pegah Kamal

My passion is to help build human connections in a vastly digital world- through memorable experiences and relatable stories.

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