A couple of years ago the company changed my computer login to a series of numbers instead of my name; I should have realized the foreshadowing. Local news viewership is down and advertisers cut their budgets, so staff cuts aren’t shocking. But how my layoff happened is burned into my memory forever.
The TV station was buzzing that morning with rumors that four people had been let go. By 11:20 a.m., I thought I was safe. I was wrong. My heart dropped as the VP appeared and said we were going to see HR. She didn’t say anything during what seemed like the longest walk of my life.
When I got into the office, the HR director didn’t even say it. She just proceeded to go over endless benefit and severance pay information as the VP watched. I asked how long I had to pack up my stuff. There was silence. I got the hint. I told them I just needed to get my purse and cell phone. They protested and told me someone else could get them. I firmly argued that wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t want anyone handling my most personal belongings.
They relented and by 11:40 a.m. I was out the door, purse in hand. Upstairs, my desk was untouched. I left my email open, a Starbucks coffee still hot, and a daily to-do list half done sitting next to the keyboard.
— Tara Jelnicki,
Formerly of NBC 7/39
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