Yeah, you're reading that right.
About two weeks ago, the president of the company asked me to meet with him privately and for undisclosed reasons. I had no idea what it was going to be about, and his assistants didn't have any clues to offer me. I freaked out a little, thinking it was gonna be bad news, but after a number of conversations with my ex-boss Charlie and a few friends familiar with our company politics, I changed my mind. I became convinced it was something benign. Then the meeting got cancelled. And it wasn't rescheduled. I breathed a little easier. Two entire weeks went by. Then the meeting went back on my books again this morning. I had almost forgotten about it.
One of my peers at work, a guy who was promoted at the same time and to the same level I was had the same meeting on his schedule. I was still thinking it was something innocuous, like a new project, or a title bump or something of that ilk. He wasn't so convinced.
"I really don't have a good feeling about this." His usual New York tough-guy facade was crumbling.
"I'll bet you a dollar it's nothing bad."
"OK, you're on."
Something inside of me shifted when I looked in his eyes and shook his hand after he took the bet so quickly. It's like when you're at the table with pocket nines and the flop comes king high or something and the old rock falling asleep in the 1s leads at you. Something told me my hand wasn't good anymore.
It was only 3:15 so I still had a good two hours to freak out to various individuals in my life before getting called down there. I talked to Charlie and he offered me 5-1 that I wasn't getting fired. I took the action. Showcase sent me an email letting me know he picked up freshies for the weekend and wrote as like a funny ha- ha joke "P.S. I hope you don't get fired." I read the same eight pages of a script three seperate times before giving up and flinging it against the wall.
My phone rang at twenty after five. The ex-reality show cast member assistant to the president of the company told me that I should come down. I walked out my office door, down the hallway, took the shortcut through the file room into the side hallway, and crossed myself before punching in the combination on the CIA-style keypad to get into the main hallway. Mr. President was standing right outside his office as I arrived. We went inside and he shut the door.
"I wish I was calling you down here to tell you good news, but I'm not, so I'm going to be very direct about this. We're letting you go."
I couldn't look him in the face anymore. I felt like I'd been smacked by a truck and thrown fifty yards. My brow furrowed and my eyes wandered down to this ugly little southwestern-stlye rug he had spread out beneath the coffee table. It was blue and orange and looked faded from the sun. I stared at the rug and the wooden legs of the table as I heard phrases like "It has nothing to do with intelligence or performance" and "you're not the only one this is happening to" and "The Big Man just wanted to make some big changes." I couldn't process anything. I had played this scenario out in my head dozens of times in flights of perverted fancy but I never thought it would go down like this. At 5:30 on a Friday with no warning less than two months after a stellar year-end evaluation.
We go through life often not knowing when certain moments will be the last of their kind. Not knowing that the hug you gave to your college roommate on graduation day would be the last one you'd ever share. That the half-hour visit you paid your grandmother before getting on that plane back to school would be the last time you'd see her alive. That the lazy morning sex with him on that Tuesday would be the last time for the two of you. I certainly didn't get up today thinking today would be my last day of employment at a place I've given the last five years of my life to.
I walked around Beverly Hills for a long time in stunned silence. After a few blocks, I called Showcase. He thought I was joking when I told him what happened. Then he said something that seven seperate people would say to me in the hours to come as I broke the news:
"I really think this is a blessing in disguise for you."
You know, it really may be. It's no secret I wasn't happy there. You all certainly know that. But despite my obvious discontent, I was still damned good at my job. My writers loved me and respected my notes. I'm just not a typical Hollywood person. I'm not a perfect fit into this industry. And that's fine. I like who I am. I'm not ready to change that for a bunch of showbiz fucktards.
The level I'd reached within the company essentially demanded that I drink the Kool-Aid. Give into the lifestyle. Make Hollywood more or less a 24-hour job. Make the Big Man's problems my problems and care about them deeply despite the fact that I know he's a mercurial egomaniac who will never give a shit about anyone who works for him. I resisted the Kool Aid as much as I could for as long as I could and he knew that. In an environment where no one tells him "no" and everyone bends over backwards to kiss his ass, the Big Man had to understand, even in the smallest way, that I had his number.
I'm still in a ridiculous amount of shock, but I'll be OK. I even went to play in the Murderer's Row game tonight to get my mind off it all. I have to kick my poker game into some serious gear now that I have no other regular income!
I am unemployed for the first time in my entire life. I've worked nonstop since graduating college, barely stopping for a vacation let alone an extended break. I haven't updated my resume in 6 1/2 years because I haven't needed to. It's strange having so much responsiblity evaporate in an instant. I have no idea what I'm going to do, or even if I'm going to go back to the industry. No immediate plans. For at least this week, I'm just floating free.