For the month of December I am writing a journal entry each day called Today I Learned where I talk about what I learned that day. It could be something like a technical fix at work. It could be something bigger about my life. Earlier this month I was thinking about work and the time I got laid off.

I learned today I am thankful to have a job. I am thankful to be drawing a pay check. I am thankful to have that measure of stability in my life. But I have thought about my quality of life. What kind of life do I want to have? What do I want to get out of my life? How do I want to spend my days?

I have settled for a lot of jobs. I have settled for jobs. I have settled to sub-par situations. I have worked below my potential and I learned nothing in the process. I have done a lot of things I am not necessarily proud of. But I got a pay check. I had health insurance. I had stability.

Or so I thought…

Until the day I got laid off.

I was working for the help desk of the City of Richmond, VA. It was my first help desk job. I took the job because it paid more than the position I held. I was happy where I was and I was making pretty good money for grunt work. I was content because the work was easy and I could listen to music in one ear and take calls on the Bluetooth headset on the other ear. I was content there.

And then I was told I was going to meet with the head of the IT Department there along with my manager. I figured this was not a good sign even though I was working circles around the other help desk tech. So I went to the meeting and I heard the words that still ring in my ears.

“This has nothing to do with your job performance. You are a great employee who works hard…” and the rest is a blank in my memory. He talked for a few more minutes but the writing was on the wall. The city was going through a round of budget cuts. Because I was the last person hired, I was to be the first person let go.

Last Hired, First Fired.

I was not going to have a job in two weeks. Maybe it was longer. Maybe three weeks. But I was out of a job as of that day. The rest of the time was worthless in a way. I was gone. Deadman Answering Phones.

And because one of the desktop support technicians had been hired before me, he was given the choice to take my job or lose his own and be laid off too. He opted to take my help desk position. I can’t blame him. I would have made the same choice. But I was expected to teach him what I did. I was expected to train him to take my job. That was just too much for me. I couldn’t do it. My pride was hurt. I was freaking out because I didn’t know what I was going to do next. I was freaking out inside and trying to keep myself together outside. But I was unemployed. And no amount of hard work and effort on my part would change that.

I was unemployed.