21 days and counting!
The last couple weeks have been much of a whirlwind! The stars are aligning and everything has worked out ideally to this point. A week ago was 2 years in the making, and I have to say, I am finally glad it is over.
Two years ago, my boss called all the management staff in our department in for a “short notice” meeting. The CFO and my boss (the controller) were leading the meeting. It was during this meeting we were told the company was for sale, and they expected the say to happen rather expeditiously. Of course there was a multitude of question, most of which went unanswered at the time. We were being told to help them provide necessary documentation to facilitate in the sale.
Over the following two years, there were various suitors of the company. All of which, fell through for a variety of reasons. Last April/May, it looked as if we finally had a buyer, and the close of the sale was imminent. The new company would be cutting most of the SGA positions, as they were a company of similar type, resulting in a lot of redundancy.
At this point, it looked like we would be laid off at some point in late summer. However, the sale of the company wasn’t imminent. The date the sale was supposed to close drug on. And on. And on. Around the late July time frame, I ultimately hatched the long incubated plan of hiking the PCT. I knew as a result of being laid off, I would receive some sort of severance. Additionally, because I had been notified, over a year ago at this point, the company was for sale, prudence dictated we reduce our spending. This resulted in a long over due savings. After thinking if over for a couple weeks, I discussed it with my husband and we decided it was pretty much the perfect time to undertake the trail. I wouldn’t likely have such a well-funded opportunity to take 6-9 months off work “for fun”.
The decision was made, and we waited, and waited. Morale at the company wasn’t good. Work volume overall fell off due to the financial health of our company. As a result, I had more time in the day than work, which left me with a lot of idle time to research and plan for the trail. This was great to a point, and then it became stressful. I know it sounds silly. However, having a job where the work load is minimal, being laid off is “imminent” is REALLY stressful. You are in a perpetual holding pattern. The recurring thought every Monday was, “Well, maybe this week.”
Fast-forward to early November and the deal fell through. I was somewhat devastated. It looked like my plan of hiking the PCT in 2015 was unlikely. Toward late November, a new company showed interest in acquiring the company. However, based on the previous 18 months, I took it with a grain of salt. Over the holidays, I looked at our budget over and over. Ultimately, I came to the decision that if I was employed until March 1st, I could hike the trail with severance, or without. The decision was made at this point, I was going on my hike. It was a relief to some extent.
Over the next two months, I prepared for the trail. I purchased a lot of food for the resupply boxes. I began packing my resupply boxes (and ultimately finished them last Sunday, YAY!) I finished up my gear purchases (you gotta love Christmas for asking for gear from family!) It was a rather productive time. After the holidays, the close of the deal looked good, however there was little information in the way of layoffs. And if there were layoffs, who would be included. (I have never wanted to get laid off so bad in my life!!!!!)
Along with this uncertainty, I began to waver a lot about our own financial health. Is leaving a company I have worked for, for 9 years, prudent? Is this really the best time to be doing this? About 60% of the time, the answer was a resounding “NO”. Even after seeing everything on paper, and knowing, financially, we would be fine, I had huge doubts.
In mid December, I had a bit of a break down. Fortunately, I married Superman and he was able to help me put my psyche back together. In January, the mounting tension caused a rather heated conversation in which I basically told him, “I didn’t want to do the trail.”
Through it all, I managed to hang on to the goal of doing the trail. In early February, the sale of the company was complete, and the new owners took over. We were all informed there would be layoffs, however we were not told when or to what extent. Once again, doubt enters.
On February 11th, the layoffs occurred and roughly 50% of the workforce at my company was let go. I was included in the reduction. Severance was exactly what I expected it to be. While I was happy to get a severance package, there was a lot of emotional baggage I hadn’t expected. I was leaving a career at a really good company I had worked at for 9 years. Many of my coworkers are friends. And on top of it all I felt really bad for those who didn’t have the insight into what I had known for the previous 2 years.
I honestly thought I would be overjoyed. With severance, the financial uncertainty disappears. Today marks a week since I got laid off, but I cant help but feel a bit of a void. It’s really, really strange not having a set schedule. I know this is adjustment period, and in 3 weeks time, I will certainly have a set schedule. Hike, eat, sleep, repeat.
I have been asked by many people if I’m REALLY excited. My answer to this point has been, “Not yet”. The excitement will come, I believe. I am looking forward to the adventure, but I still have a bit of mourning to do in the meantime. Its been a long, challenging road to get to here. A lot of the ramifications of which I hadn’t considered.
When I started this post, I thought it was going to be one of happiness (yay I was given money NOT to come back to work), but as I have often found when I write, the way I really feel comes out.
On a more positive note, I was in Vegas for the last couple of days, and on the way home to San Diego, we crossed over the PCT in the Cajon pass. And as has been the routine for the last year, whenever we cross over the PCT via a highway, we must stop and look.
We exited the 15 and using Halfmile’s maps found where the PCT goes under the 15 freeway. We walked both east and west on the trail a bit. Crossing under the 15 while 5 o’clock traffic motored over head was a boost. Even with 8 lanes of traffic overhead, I could feel the serenity of the trail. It’s a rather surreal feeling.
I’m really enjoying your writing James.