A Day of Infamy

“…and all copywriters.”

These three words, simple as they may seem, turned my world upside down in the blink of an eye. I can still remember the moment these words were said as if it were only yesterday, the faintest hint of authority in the VP’s voice, the gripping sadness in every syllable, the palpable hopelessness punctuating the last word, and the wave of shocked silence that followed this statement.

“…say your goodbyes.”

These three words, often said during funerals and sorrowful partings, broke the moment’s silence, like it was the signal we were waiting for to unleash the barrage of emotions we felt at that time. Suddenly, it was all a blur. I couldn’t remember if everything became a blur because my colleagues were in some sort of chaotic hugging and crying or because my eyes were filled with tears. It was probably the latter. I do remember feeling entirely lost, like the future was suddenly taken away from me and all my plans were forced down the drain. I also remember hugging one of my closest friends, as tears fell down my eyes and two years’ worth of memories flashed in vivid colors in my mind. The smiles, stories, jokes, lunch outs, and beer toasts now evoke crippling emotions instead of jovial laughter.

It was, like the words of Franklin Roosevelt, a day of infamy, one that shattered our hearts and seared a traumatic memory in our minds. Retrenchment is such a brutal and drastic measure in the corporate world, but it needs to be done. And when you’re caught in the crossfire of retrenchment, you have no choice but to surrender yourself to the fate of unemployment. Those who’ve never experienced the trauma of retrenchment wouldn’t know, but let me tell you this—it would suck the life and laughter out of you for days, even weeks. It is depressing, like you were forced to leave your long-time friend and lover. I could say that the aftershock is even worse than a breakup. The memories would haunt you, and all you’ll ever want is to go back to that familiar place and for everything to go back to normal.

But the depression retrenchment brings, like everything else in this life, will also pass. It may take several weeks, even a month or two, but it will. Eventually, you’ll learn to live without the comfort of your long-time office friends or the familiarity of your old workplace.

“We are pleased to offer you the position of…”

Ultimately, you’ll find a new job and start all over again. You’ll learn new things, earn more, and forge friendships with a new set of colleagues. By the time you get to this point, you’ll realize that retrenchment was just a bump in your career road, a painful experience that actually opened doors for you and led you to the next level of your corporate life.