A senior manager called by my desk last Wednesday and asked if he could have a word. There was nothing unusual in that. He had occasionally asked me to his office to discuss a project or a customer. And anyway, my immediate boss was on holiday and we had just put in a bid for a new project with a US customer, so he was going to ask about that, I thought.
But something in his tone of voice struck me as unusual, some timbre that was heavy with portent. And he turned more swiftly than usual to head back to his office. He had more or less avoided eye contact as he asked me to his office.
As I followed him down the corridor a brief thought shot across my mind that this could be serious. Some nerve quivered but rationality took over and insisted that I had just read the signals badly: no, this would be the usual stuff.
When I turned into the office I saw the head of HR was already there. Then I knew it was grave, but before I had time to weigh it up, I think before the boss had even taken his seat, the bomb had exploded. He was sorry to say that I was being made redundant.
Boom : shock and awe. There was no warning, nor no warning signs. I was in utter shock. Sound became muffled and a mild form of tunnel vision narrowed my view. Only words followed: amalgamating departments, board decision, Q4, profits, support staff.
The HR manager, who managed to convey a sense of genuine empathy, was now going through the figures. A package was mentioned and statutory and tax. That's when I stopped him. I'm sorry, I said, can we talk about the details later? At this point, I'm not taking much in. Ok, he said, we could talk later. But my PC had been disabled he said and it was probably better if I could just leave the building now.
I made my way to my desk, picked up my bag and headed for the door. Then I stopped. I had to say goodbye to a few colleagues. After all, I'd known some of them 8 years. I told them I was gone. There was a round of layoffs. They were stunned, but those who survived said later that I looked like I'd seen a ghost. I went to the lobby phoned by wife, who was calmer than I thought, and then I left for home