Banding (Pt 1)

Posted on December 8, 2009. Filed under: Stories | Tags: , , , , , |

He played the words over and over again in his head. It was a cruel and hostile word thats sole purpose was to destroy all that was good and put an end to a life that he once knew.

‘…redundant.’ Michael recalls a time where he once read somewhere that when bad things happen or about to happen to us, emotionally of physically, we tend to curl up into a ball, or foetal position, as this position offers us security and protection and a sense of peace. Right now, Michael wished he could do the same. Except, he thought, his boss sitting opposite him would think that a bit strange.

‘…I’m sorry Michael. As our company undergoes some major changes, we have come to realise that a number of positions will no longer be needed. This is in no way a reflection on you or your abilities as an employee as you’ve been fantastic and an amazing asset to this organisation…’

Michael could tell this was extremely hard for Caroline to say. She looked almost ill as she delivered the news. As though she had just eaten something so revolting and was having a hard time digesting it. Michael cracked a slight smile as he studied her face. Maybe it was even harder for her to have to say then it was for him to have to hear.

 ‘…and it is sad. But, and I’m speaking from experience here, it is not the end of the world Mike. I can promise you that.’

 It may not have been the end of the world, but it seemed like it. And it certainly hurt just as much. He’d worked at Omar and Leary for seven years. He’d started as a fresh faced 25 year old, with all the enthusiasm, and eagerness to make a good impression in one of the UK’s top ad agencies; working with some of the worlds most prestigious companies; living the high life and playing the self confessed role of a ‘playboy’ – holidays to the Bahamas, skiing (which he vowed never to try again!!), and even a stint at dating a catwalk super model. Well, maybe not so much catwalk as catalogue, and not so super, he recalled, but a model nonetheless.

He’d been on a yacht, eaten too much sushi and got sea sick whilst trying to wine and dine a client and even made a business deal in the air whilst co-piloting a some what crazy dare devil Texan oil tycoon in his helicopter. That day, Michael recalled, was the day he actually understood the word FEAR. He cracked a pleased smile. He’d done pretty well for himself so far, but today it was all coming to an end. He wanted to cry at the very thought.

‘…so HR will go through with you in a bit what you’d need to sign and about all that legal stuff that I know nothing about. But if you have any questions regarding all of this, please just fire away. It’s really wrong, I know, but.’

Caroline had stopped and was now staring at him in a sympathetic ‘Mumsy’ way. Head slightly tilted to the side. She was only two years older than him, yet at the age of 34 she resembled someone much older. Her brownish blond hair had been put into what Michael could only think was meant to be a bun, but either a stressful day or not enough time in the morning had made loose strands fall around her delicate face making her look a little dishevelled and a little too relaxed.

‘Nah, I’m good. I guess I just need to…you know…just process it all.’ What the hell was he talking about, Michael thought. He got it – he no longer works here any more. What was there to process? He had done all his ‘processing’ whilst Caroline talked. There was nothing left to process.

‘I guess it’s just…crap init?…you know, to have this happen to me, right now when I’m at the top of my game… you know…like it didn’t take hard work to get here in the first place. I mean maybe it is just time to move on you know, to start something fresh. And you know maybe I was getting too comfortable. But it’s cool’ Michael could hear h isvoice start to fade. It hurt. It did hurt.

Michael stopped. What was he doing? Talking just seemed to be making him angry; more emotional. Looking across at Caroline didn’t help either. She just looked like she had no answers and right now he needed something, anything that told him ‘their loss’.

‘You know what’, I think I’m gonna take all my holidays from today if that’s okay, I don’t want the holiday pay off if that’s alright?’

‘Yeah, no that’s fine Mike. I totally understand sweetheart.’ Caroline exclaimed. ‘I wouldn’t wanna stick around either. Look I’ll call HR and see if they’re ready to see you yet.’

When Caroline left the room, Michael, for the first time since hearing the news, seemed to crumble. Tears filled his eyes and his stomach began to churn as thoughts filled his head about the future. Not so much a few weeks from now more like a few hours from now. Should he go straight home after this, or go to the gym? The gym – was his employees discount still valid? Discounts; all the employee discounts – the record stores, sports wear and fashion stores, airline ticket and hotel discounts; cinema and theme park discounts – great when he took his niece and nephew. Oh no, his brother – was he going to tell his brother about this. They’d always been in this weird competition with each other although none of them would dare admit it.

‘Sorry sweetheart. Right, I’ve spoken to HR. They said you can go up now if you just wanted to handle everything right now?’

‘Yeah. Yeah, just wanna get it all out the way. Thanks for…just…’

‘No don’t start thanking me Mike, you’ll ‘ave me in tears if you do. Come ‘ere’

Caroline stood up to give Michael a hug. His tall frame towered over her pettiness as he bent down to wrap his arms around her cushioned frame. Michael leaped into the hug more than he had planned. He realised that he needed a hug and that Caroline’s was so calming and re-assuring that he began to feel closer to her right now than he had in the whole 9 years they ‘d worked together.

‘You’re gonna be okay sweetheart. I know it.’ Caroline said as she lovingly rubbed Michael’s back.

‘Thanks Caz.’ Michael said, half in agreement.

Micheal turned round at the entrance to the building. He had nothing much to carry with him. Just a few pieces of paper and his portfolio bag containing his history at Omar and Leary. He hadn’t said goodbye to many as he packed his stuff. Partly because many of them were already on their lunch breaks but mostly because it hurt too much to say goodbye for the day and know that it didn’t mean see you tomorrow.


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