Blue in green: Monday, January 23

Building in SE Portland

Building in SE Portland

I got too close to my car, which is never good (emotionally attached), probably starting to identify with it falling apart, the inexplicable warning lights flickering going up steep hills, knowing it was only a matter of time. And I felt mechanical getting behind the wheel of it, glazing over going into work, getting in the slot on the freeway, pulling in the garage, badging in, finding a spot to charge my machine.

I heard they let people go at the office yesterday and imagined I could sense that energy in the air, when no one’s supposed to know what’s happening but everybody does, and no work is getting done (because how could it), and I remembered the first day at Starbucks they did that: they told everyone when it was going to happen, an otherwise uneventful Thursday in early February, but we all knew about it since like the beginning of January, a tactic designed to lessen the impact somehow but it only aggravated everyone’s anxiety, we all turned on a slow spit dreading the day as it neared, hearing that if you were on the list to get RIF-ed (“reduction in force”) you’d receive an Outlook invitation the night before with a strange subject line, a 15-minute time slot, and then gather your personal things and be on your way.

Even though my job was OK I still left the building after our new team huddle. Sometimes I’d do that, just go down to 1st avenue and catch either the north or southbound bus, and then I’d get off and walk, hoping something would happen I could write about, but nothing ever did. It’s probably how I was seeing things then that affected that (or what I was missing, and not seeing).

But I felt good pulling out of the parking garage yesterday when my day was done; I put on a new CD and when I got home, changed and walked the dog, wrote, got a note from my dad and called him, made dinner, talked to Dawn afterwards about the 9-5 life and agreed, we’re never going back.

And later, I thought about one of the colleagues I had who got RIF-ed, and we all remarked how strange, because she’d been there so long and was seen as a kind of fixture: I remembered how long it took her to finish emptying out her desk, it seemed like it was all afternoon, and people were coming by hugging her, not knowing what to say…and she wasn’t married, she didn’t have a family but was young enough still she could, so it was probably a lot of her life she was leaving that day, and I thought how sad, she identified with it so much (I did the same), but when you come back the next time maybe it’s like getting dumped, you’re smarter and wiser, more removed, your heart gets thicker, it remembers.


Categories: Memoir

Tags: , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. “turned on a slow spit” — that’s how it is.
    My office is more isolated than ever. I thought I’d like it, and the misanthropic part of me does, but I gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing I ever do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Killer last line. And yes, that’s how it feels, when you get attached and then it gets ripped away, not like a bandage, but like a skin graft peeled off, leaving a gaping wound.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had the misfortune of being at one of our American offices on a RIF Friday in 2008 and there was no forewarning. The cart, for personal belongings, and security, for escorting out of the building, did the rounds. Everyone wondering where the noise of the cart’s wheels would stop next. Hoping that it was its last trip. To say the mood was dark would be an understatement.

    It took until almost 11:00 AM for the last of the condemned to leave. The survivors were left to deal with the relief it wasn’t one of them while feeling bad about those that were gone. I felt like the awkward witness watching people I had eaten with the day before leave and knowing that it was likely the last time I would ever see them.

    Thankfully, this is not something you would see here in France. You would have to have your hand pretty deep into the till to warrant a security escort out the door.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, what a story: The Cart. Extraordinarily dark. “Bring out yer dead!” If I’m lucky, I’ll keep my business independent and won’t forget the fact we’re all expendable that way. Hard to accept but true, hard too to be the one making those decisions, pruning, cutting into it.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I wish I had the ability to slow my mind down and write as well as you do. The phrase about everyone slowly roasting on a spit was about as close to a perfect image as I could have envisioned. Working as a temp (I can’t think of much that’s more depressing… not only witnessing someone else’s slow decent into madness [read: typical nine to five], but being envious of the fact that even THAT wasn’t yours), we had plenty of those days. Wish we had the cool acronym.

    On a different note, I once got too close to a car. “Spartacus,” my wife dubbed him. A little 1991 BMW 325i, sleek, fast as hell, sunroof, cigarettes, 16-hour trips between Portland and Los Angeles.

    Don’t EVER get too close to your vehicle.

    Glad to be reading your stuff again, William. Happy New Year and avoid that nine to five like the plague. For some very random and thoughtful hip-hop (to my mind, it follows T.S. Elliot’s concept of the objective-correlative… kind of how haiku work), check out Aesop Rock’s “9-5ers Anthem.” Sadness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You can slow your mind down, trust me. You write beautifully, if your blog and comments here are reflective (which they must be!). It’s taken me years of practice and failures thus far; perhaps I’m just older and have made more mistakes than you to date, hence your observation…but it’s something anyone can learn (but arguably no one can be taught, to riff off your profession, and with all due respect to it). But nice to see you again. The image in your last blog of the weather person was arresting. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll check out the tune you suggest, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Looks like a pot-bud king kong climbing that building, there. I don’t know if pot-bud is word people use, but I’m using it. An Edward Scissorhands pot-bud monkey giant, what ya got there. I like it. Good post too. Good writing. Seriously. “But when you come back the next time maybe it’s like getting dumped, you’re smarter and wiser, more removed, your heart gets thicker, it remembers.” Rhythmic and lyrical.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does! It looks like Virginia Creeper too, which sounds like a cannabis strain. A pot maw. I don’t know if you’ve been in any of these legalized states yet but they have billboards like “High, Portland!” Inside the city limits and then a URL for an app to find pot shops. Triggers all kinds of comic scenarios I think. (What was that app called, can’t remember…)


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