He thought she was joking. She wasn’t.
The layoff was not unexpected, he was the new guy there, just a year in a non-critical role. He laughed in naiveté. She had to explain that she was serious, he had 25 minutes to collect his things, turn in his computer and leave the premises.
He wasn’t an IT guy that could damage critical systems. He was a gentle young man with a family to support. Not having been there long, he would get two weeks of severance.
As he loaded up a big blue Ikea bag with his books, pictures and other belongings, I walked up to shake his hand. I gave him my contact information and told him that if he needed anything, he could call. It seemed an empty gesture, but if nothing else, it was a human thing to do in what felt like an unhuman, surreal situation.
As I walked back to my desk I pushed feelings down. He was not the only person I knew who was laid off today. People I have known for decades would be leaving on this day our work-force was decimated