In hindsight, telling the CEO (and my boss) of a major Fortune 500 company that his mind was as small as his penis was ill advised. Following that statement up by throwing his cup of coffee in his face was also not the best career move. Nor was storming out of his office and announcing to the whole building that he was an impotent, incompetent tool. Looking back over the morning, I can easily see what led me to career-assassination, and while I should regret it, I find myself not caring as I pack ten years of work into a shoebox.
Hastily, I throw what I can into the box and ignore the whispers in the hallway outside my office. I can feel their eyes staring at me. A few paused at my door as if they are trying to decide whether or not to approach me to offer words of wisdom or sympathy – none of which I was particularly in the mood for. Occasionally, I’d glance up and glare at the unlucky soul who decided to linger a little too long. It wasn’t their fault, but in a way I blame all of them for not having the balls to do what I just did.
Grant Edmonson, CEO of Yearly Enterprises, had it coming. He’d grabbed my ass and eyed my chest a few too many times over the last ten years. Not to mention all the times he stole ideas from those around him and used them to earn himself a plush corner office and a half million-dollar paycheck. Every last one of us thought about saying those things to him, but unlike me apparently, they all wanted to retain their employment status and as a result, wisely kept their mouths shut. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way in a position where being unemployed is an option.
Maybe I shouldn’t have skipped my morning latte, or maybe I just finally snapped under the abuse and pressure. Whatever the reason, I was trying to remind myself that all things happen for a reason and I would be just fine. Sure the economy was in the toilet, but I’d saved a decent nest egg that should carry me into my next opportunity. Of course, I had no idea that Grant was currently in his office calling every firm in the state of Tennessee and blacklisting me. Again, in hindsight, I should have expected this.
With my shoebox full of a decade of office hording under one arm and my hand bag in the other, I nodded to no one in particular and lifted my head. If I was going to do the career walk of shame, I might as well do it with my head held high. As I made my way down the (what felt like) mile-long hallway to the elevator, I avoid eye contact. My pride may be intact, but my dignity was still a little bruised.
For most of my adult life, Yearly Enterprises has been my home. From the tiny cubicle my assistant now sits in to the almost-corner office I’d just left, this place was where I’d honed my skills and made a reputation for myself. I’d met my husband in the elevator after getting trapped in it with him on my first day. My group of girlfriends had all passed through these doors at one point or another and some of my closest friends still work here. Today, I could feel their eyes on me, but rather than make a joke or ask how the family was, I just made my way to the elevator.
I pressed the down button for the last time and patiently waited for the doors to open. When they did, I was greeted by the mirrored walls that had been my signal that my day was both beginning and ending. I fought back the tears I’d managed to avoid all morning and drew in a deep breath as I turned back to the office. I lifted me head and met the faces of my co-workers. They were gathered in a group just outside the elevators. I smiled and waved.
And then I shouted, “DAMN THE MAN!” and threw my fist in the air, dropping my shoebox. As the doors closed, I heard laughter and applause. At least they didn’t see the tear that finally escaped. Their last image of me would be of a strong, independent and defiant woman.