I sat down, participated in the remainder of the meeting, as usual, and returned to my desk. I cranked out some work (I was very productive that day) until lunch time came around. I called in a Turkey Cobb from Con Pane (some of the best sandwiches in town) and got ready to go pick it up when my project manager suggested that I cancel my lunch order and he could take me to lunch. This seemed odd as we usually went to lunch on Fridays, and he never took me lunch, we went and got lunch together. This seemed odd but I didn't think much more of it.
As we were driving to get some fish tacos from Blue Water Grill (best grilled fish tacos, period) I noticed, in my peripherals, that my project manager was looking at me a lot. It seemed as if he was trying to gauge my mood or get some sort of feedback from me. I thought this was odd but just kept acting as I normally would.
I stepped up and ordered my food and so did my project manager and he pulled out the corporate card. I asked, "oh, it's on the company today?" and he responded with a simple, yet uneasy, "yeah." I walked over to use the restroom while he finished paying. I used the toilet, washed my hands, paused, looked at myself in the mirror and said out loud, "I'm getting fired."
I went out and joined my project manager at the table. We made a little small talk and when we hit a small lull in the conversation, he started in with, "I'm sure you know why we're here." It was pretty generic, but very fitting. We sat and talked for a long while, it was a very positive meeting and I took a lot away from it. I went back to the office, signed the paperwork with my boss, and then was asked to pack up my things and leave that day.
Overall this is a positive thing. I was looking to move on soon and this puts me in a better place financially than if I had quit. Positives aside though, it was a very surreal experience. For much of it (after lunch), I felt very detached from the process, it was as if I was observing what was happening, rather than being a part of it. For over two years they trusted me in foreign countries, a company cell phone, and a company credit card, yet, they spoke of my departure as if I was never trusted to return to the office (even if for a visit). If I forgot anything, just e-mail someone and they could get it for me. I understand they have to protect themselves, but it felt as if I was being voted off the island, rather then respectfully discharged.
Above all though, the oddest thing about it all is a loss of identity. I am no longer a Design Engineer for an environmental company, I am defined by the other things (volunteer, unemployed engineer, etc.). No matter how much you may not like your job, it is still a huge part of who you are and to lose that identity was probably the biggest adjustment of all.
That being said, here's to bigger and better things!