But it couldn't last forever.
When Production VP and I got a moment alone together, she admitted that she began "negotiating" her departure with management back in October. She was told lay offs were imminent and volunteered to go herself. She'd been with the agency nearly 25 years (an almost unheard of tenure in advertising) and wasn't ready to go back into the trenches of handling day-to-day projects, which she'd have to do after her team was decimated. She chose instead to walk away, thereby saving their jobs. I admire her self awareness and the generosity of her choice. She was very teary-eyed on her last day. It was hard for her.
Then Strategy VP and I had a chat. She's the one that really hurts. She relocated a year ago October, moving to Chicago from Atlanta, uprooting her husband and twin boys for this job. A position this agency recruited her for. I was furious! She told me not to be -- that this was "mutual." The relationship wasn't a "good fit." Well, fuck that! Her team loves her. She's accessible and has tremendous integrity. She was also extremely helpful to me when she watched me going through a bad patch. She's a generous soul, a good egg. A mensch. Unfortunately, she's also her own girl and she called them as she saw them. She was too squeaky a wheel in too high profile a position.
I told her that if she didn't fit "our culture," there's something wrong with "our culture." She laughed and reiterated that this wasn't a bad thing. She told me about one of her boys, the more sensitive one. She said every time she left on a business trip, he'd say, "Mommy, why do you have to go? You don't want to go." He's 11, and she's been traveling for work his entire life. Why was he piping up now? Was it a phase he was going through? No, she said, it was a phase she was going through, and her son was picking up on it. Her professional unhappiness was affecting her personal life, and so it's time to move on.
I have an email from her personal account. I haven't opened it yet. I'm still too sad about losing her.
Four other people -- folks I don't know -- also left on Friday. There are inevitably more to come. Maybe me.
I truly don't believe it will happen, not yet, but I can't afford to be surprised. This morning, I ran the numbers. Between severance and my emergency fund, I can go about 40 weeks before touching my retirement savings. That will give me some time to regroup and look for another job.
I don't know what I want to do, but I don't want to do this anymore. When this job ends, I will be done with agency life. I've felt the blade touch my neck over and over for the past 28 years. I'm tired.