The boss came in with his usual alacrity. “Sorry we have to let you go,” he said. He held the doorframe and hung his head as if stunned by his own revelation. When I got up to offer him my chair, he crumbled into it and began sobbing, the tears running down his red cheeks. I handed him my handkerchief, which he used to sop up the tears. Then he blew his nose, and the chair shot back into the wall. “It’s so hard, my job,” he cried. “These are difficult times,” I answered and patted his shoulder for support. He bent over as if he were going to be sick. I pushed the wastebasket under his face, because if he made a mess, I was worried I’d be responsible for cleaning up. He coughed a few times and spit into it. “Ive been here 10 years. Do you have to let me go?” I asked. Suddenly, he fell on the floor, doubled up, a fierce pain in his gut. I called the infirmary but the operator broke in to say that the infirmary had been shut down. My boss rolled back and forth as if in a seizure. He moaned so loudly he couldn’t hear me repeat my question, so loudly the floors and windows vibrated. When I pinned his shoulders, he went limp and his eyes rolled back. I couldn’t hear his breathing. Firing me had killed my boss. How would I explain that to Human Resources? Then miraculously he came to, smiling and cheerful. “Youll be missed,” he said and jumped to his feet, extending his open hand.
art by Colleen Randall