I’ve never lost a job before. The experience was surreal. I didn’t teach on Thursdays last term, so I was working in my office. I had been approved by the Director of Academic Affairs to teach a humanities course, so I ordered the book. I wanted to teach the Computer Applications class, basically Microsoft Office, so I began the process to take certifications tests. I chatted with my office mates. The other English professor was concerned that I was able/qualified to teach more courses than he; for-profit education is stressful. He was worried about his job, but not mine. I was the only instructor on campus credited to teach the required humanities class. I too thought this would help ensure my position. I volunteered for committees, curriculum development, student advisory, hiring committees.
The campus president sent me an email asking that I come see him immediately that it was important with several exclamation points. I paused the online professional development course I was doing and went downstairs.
I asked if anything was wrong. He replied, “No, no, nothing. You haven’t done anything wrong.” He called the Director of Academic Affairs to sit in, and then repeated that nothing was wrong.
And then he simply said, “I have to let you go, effective immediately.”
I looked from him to the Director—who looked floored. He dropped his head in his hands. I stared at both of them. How do you authorize someone to teach additional course in the morning, and lay her off right after lunch?
“It’s simple economics,” he said. “Last in, first out.” But that didn’t stop him from letting my office mate who had been there almost twenty-nine years go. Or another employee who had more than a decade of service.
“I have full classes scheduled for Monday,” I said. “I will teach them as an adjunct, if I can.”
“No, that won’t be necessary.” I learned later that my students would be taking English on another campus, and that two other full-time instructors would be reduced to adjunct. “HR will be in touch about severance.”
I left his office dazed. Everyone I told teared up. They stormed into the president’s office and raged. They raged at the Director of Academic Affairs. I tried to shift realities. I had papers to grade – that students would not be turning in until noon time Friday, what do I do about that? It’s not their fault, right?
I picked up Ian and we returned to clean out my desk and bookshelf. More hugs and tears. But I didn’t cry, just went about my business.
In searching for jobs online, I noted that said university is hiring in several departments. I knew that, I guess. I had been on a hiring committee just last Monday, math teacher. The irony was not lost on me.
I posted to my Facebook page, that I was in need of employment, and within twenty-four hours I had a dozen leads. Not just vague “I heard so-and-so might be looking,” but names, and phone numbers. Ideas and opportunities filled my inbox.
Laying me off is ultimately the university’s loss, and almost everyone there is painfully aware of that. It’s four days later and I still have not heard from HR. I can’t file for unemployment until that happens. But I am looking forward to the new opportunities that are being presented to me; I am looking forward to the challenge.
And I confess, I enjoyed not rushing out the door at 7am. See, there is a bright side to everything!
I’m making phone calls today and sending out resumes, wish me luck.