My career chose me long before high school and it was dead on correct. My heart made no mistake in answering the call of pen and paper. (The only thing I regret is not attending a University with a Journalism School like Columbia: connections I could hook into and ride to Mars; good mentors; chances to breathe the same air with the profession’s greats, like Walter Cronkite…
I was about 23 and just got my shiny new BA. My first job was as an advertising copywriter at a radio station that was changing formats from all news to top 40 rock and roll. I started work in this old New England city far away from home in the waning days of a brilliant autumn. I was the last person served in the unemployment filing line on the third of July half a year later.
The station manager and the sales manager called me into the office, discussed my “failure to fulfil the expectations of the job” and gave me the option of signing a letter of resignation. At the end, with a little offhanded laugh, they said, “maybe it’s because you’re from the south”.
The school transcripts were stellar, but my work was less than expected. Without a clue why I failed I collected my stuff from all the desks I borrowed (can you imagine a writer never having her own desk?) and departed. Behind the door of my first apartment on the second floor I screamed so loudly, the neighbors thought they were audio witnesses to murder. Thus ended my first professional job where I got my very first pink slip.
Now as I hear the stories of the job losses, I relive the pain. Thoughts come in the night about how much damage my supervisors’ derisive giggles and that first pink slip did over thirty years ago –not only to my career but also to my soul. To you who have just lost your job today: be very gentle with yourself. May you be comforted in your grief and come through stronger and wiser.