Walked into the boardroom for what was supposed to be a brainstorming session. After two minutes of rambling, the CEO to whom I report, said the company no longer needed my services. The only other person in the room, the VP, looked at me and said that they had decided to outsource my role to India. Shorty thereafter, on a Monday afternoon, I’m being escorted out by a human resources person who whispers that she hates this part of her job. Gave her a reassuring look, as though all would be okay. Colleagues are starring but I look straight and walk clear out the front door.
I’m carrying a bankers box filled with the junk I’ve been meaning to clear out of my desk for the past few years. Was given half-an-hour to get my stuff. Spring cleaning always had to be forced on me. The box and the memory of my time here are tossed into the first garbage bin I see in the parking lot. Don’t even look back at the place.
In the car I dial Thomas’ number and get his voicemail and begin leaving a message. “Thomas, hey, um… It’s Jack and I’m calling because I’ve just been outsourced and would love to chat about…” Beep. Beep. Beep. I’m on speaker and see an incoming call.
“Sorry to bother you Thomas. I’ve just been outsourced.”
“Wish I was. Listen, I didn’t call to cry or have a pity moment. What are you doing tonight?”
“Reading, looking for work, sleeping. What’d you have in mind.”
“Meet you at the Starbucks you like to proselytize in at seven.”
“Sure, but you okay? Like I know you’re a tough guy and all but are you okay? I’m asking you straight-up and don’t lie to me.”
“Yeah. You know… No, I’m fine. Just nursing a blow I wasn’t expecting.”
“See you at seven.”
Driving home I’m mad which baffles me because I hated that job. Getting fired is a blessing. Something in my DNA is kicking in. Else, why would I be upset at being kicked out of a corporate tribe I detest. Whatever. They just wanted to cut costs and decided to replace me with someone in India who’d gladly do the job for what I’m sure is a windfall in that country. I’m done with being mad. “Move on,” I say to myself while gliding past buildings on a route I’ll never take again.
Pulling up to the only refuge I know, Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Church, I park and stare out for a bit and think. Front doors are sealed shut to the Church, but sometimes the side entry isn’t. Walking up the side I spy a massive lock denying me entry, so I sit on the front steps looking out onto the busy street. A few months ago I was opposite to where I sit, contemplating going in. Jesus has locked me out today. Saw it coming. Sooner or later the peace that began on that day in this Church, and which was carried with me into RCIA and had followed me still to today’s fateful meeting, would end. Cut-off from the fountain that spiritually nourished me, so I surmise. Day turns into evening and I dust myself off and move away from the Church that denied refuge. Thanks Jesus.
Approaching our meeting spot in Starbucks, I greet Thomas with a somber, “Hello.”
“Jack, I’m sorry for what happened to you today.”
“Why should you be. You had nothing to do with it,” I say making myself comfortable.
“Let me rephrase. Jack, it really sucks that you got fired today but it’s okay because the sun will rise tomorrow and the world will go on and you’ll be more than fine. You’ll be better for it. I don’t know why you were outsourced. I mean I know why. Greed feeds greed feeds greed, but that’s a conversation for another day. Look Jack, you’ve let go of the wheel on this spiritual journey. He’s in control as I recall you telling me a few weeks ago when I was in the doldrums myself.”
“I have no savings.”
“And rent is due at the end of the month, your fridge is empty, you have to pay out of pocket to see the dentist and your hair is falling out. Stop talking about what you don’t have and start thanking Him for what you do, even if you don’t physically or spiritually have it yet.”
“I get it. Really I do. Listen, Thomas, thank you for trying to console me… for consoling me. Appreciate it, but don’t need it. I’m okay with the situation and knew something like today would eventually come, just not this early and not like, well, this.”
“Why did you want to meet?”
“We’ve always talked about starting some type of business and seeing as how we’re both unemployed there’s no time like the present.”
“Great but it takes money to start a business and…”
“Whoa! You just told me to stop talking about what I don’t have.”
“Okay, so what do you propose?”
“We do something online, like in the form of a website that provides some sort of utility and that’ll draw repeat visitors.”
“Thank you Zuckerberg. Could you be more vague. You and every other ambitious college kid are racing for that prize.”
“Let’s create a forum. It could be a Catholic forum. We’ll monetize it with ads. There are a billion Catholics,” I say with my eyes bulging.
“Won’t make any money. The guy who runs the Catholic forum that occasionally hosts one of my blog’s ads barely makes a living.”
“Well maybe it’s not well known.”
“Okay, so I clearly haven’t thought this through.”
“You’re rebounding off today’s news and want something to happen yesterday,” Thomas says quickly.
“Yes. Is that bad.”
“No. But why don’t you give your new reality some time to boil over and dissipate before swearing to a business that makes money while serving God. The idea just came to you, right?”
“Don’t need any time to get over today, but I see your point about committing to a doomed business idea.”
“I’m not saying that a Catholic forum or any of your ideas aren’t viable. Well, I sort of said that but I take it back. If God really wants you to create a Catholic forum then it’s going to happen and you’ll be the only guy in the world making a living from it. It’ll happen in spite of the moat in place preventing it from coming to fruition. God has something great in store for you. Now if I can only figure out what he’s got planned for me,” I say under breath. “His thoughts are not our thoughts…”
“Gotcha. Sorry to cut you off. I’m neck deep in Catholicism via the RCIA and can’t stomach the stuff right now. I’m rebounding and trying to show the world how much it needs me and how great I am. I get it. I’ll go home and sit in dust and ashes with my hair shirt on. Not trying to be funny, just read that in the Bible somewhere.”
“I say no more.”
I finish the coffee that was cooling since before my arrival. We sit in awkward silence reminiscent of the time Thomas posed the question which I guess acted as the spark that sees me here. Didn’t see the outcome then. Don’t see what God has in store for me now, but I’m certain I’ll be sitting in this exact spot some time from now amazed at how everything just fell into place.
photo credit: Redrock Junction