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The Termination of My Position
I was sitting at my office desk when the phone rang. It was the front office buzzing, the director of Human Resources wanted to speak with me immediately. This can’t be good, I thought. We were on a fast-approaching deadline and needed to get the magazine finished for printing. I didn’t have time for this. There was work to be done.
Then, for some paranoid reason, I got the fear I was losing my job. Though I had done nothing wrong, I assumed the worst.
On my way to the HR department, I searched my memory for any wrongdoing I had done at work. Sure, I had used some work stamps for my personal letters; I had taken some printer paper when no one was looking, but, that didn’t warrant me being fired – which is what I feared was going to happen in the very-near future. It was inevitable. It had gone from a normal day to one of pure dread.
Turning the corner to the office, and even though I was growing more worried and anxious by the minute, I walked up to the receptionist’s desk.
“Mr. Jacobs wanted to see me. I’m Ralph Thompson,” I said.
“Yes, yes, just a minute,” she said. “He is in the middle of a business call at the moment. He’ll be right with you when he’s done. In the meantime, please have a seat.”
And I did. But it was a very long wait. Much too long when you’re expecting to get axed.
Eventually, I heard my name called.
“Mr. Jacobs will see you,” said the receptionist, who then opened the door of her boss’s office.
The minute I walked inside, I noticed that my editor, my publisher and the company’s boss were also in the HR director’s office. This was going to be worse than I had imagined – much, much worse.
After saying hello to everyone, I grabbed a seat in the middle of the room. I noticed that everyone was serious – almost too serious – and they seemed to be very uncomfortable. Finally, I just couldn’t take it anymore.
“So I’m curious why you called me in this morning,” I said. “Is something wrong? We’re on deadline, as you all very well know.”
“Mr. Thompson, nothing is wrong. Everything is just right. The company has made a decision,” said the HR director.
“Yes, we have decided to terminate your position,” said the president of the company, Jim Dorsey.
“I’m really sorry to hear that,” I said. “I … I’ve really enjoyed working here. And I don’t know why this is happening. … Did I do something wrong?”
But, then, the most unlikely thing happened: they all broke out in laughter. And I felt like standing up and slapping all of them with a heavy leather glove.
And then I remember being so confused.
“Guys,” said my publisher, Lori, “we should stop laughing and be serious. It gives the wrong message. Listen, Ralph, your position is being terminated – but it has nothing to do with your performance – which has been nothing short of stellar.”
“So why are you firing me?”
“Firing you? We’re not firing you,” she said. “It’s the total opposite.”
“So I’m firing you?”
“What? No … no, not at all,” said the president, Lori’s husband. “What Lori means is, we’re creating an entirely new position so we can keep you and get the most out of you. How about becoming our new website’s Content Manager? You’ll get a $10,000 raise.”
“I … I don’t know what to say. I was expecting the worst. I didn’t see this coming. Not at all. I thought you were firing me. I was convinced of it.”
“If I were you,” he said, “I’d say ‘yes.’ ”
“You’re right,” I said after a few long seconds. “Sounds like a deal. I’ll take the job.”
And we shook hands; they said my new salary would go into effect immediately and we all left the room for lunch.
On the way to my office, I noticed a framed poster of a quote by Mark Twain.
It read: “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
And then I learned a valuable lesson: to never take life too seriously, and to expect better things to happen to me. Because they always do. Life’s a mental thing. Embrace it.