Veronica called everyone into an all-staff meeting to announce the closing of the paper. I don’t think anyone was prepared. It’s such an unexpected time to lay people off; right in between Christmas and New Year’s. The shock on everyone’s faces was heartbreaking. After Veronica made the announcement and answered some basic questions, she gave the floor to me where I spoke about the severance packages and the option to cancel any contracts an employee might have with the news station. I avoided eye contact with my friends when I mentioned that everyone would be pulled into a meeting with me by the end of next week to go over their severance packages and options. I started with Stormy.
As soon as the door closed, he started yelling.
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me about this!”
“Stormy, you know I couldn’t. I wanted to tell you. I wanted to tell everyone but it was all confidential.”
“How long have you known about this?”
“That’s…complicated.” I said.
“What’s that supposed to mean, Faith?”
“I’ve known for awhile. I’ve known it was a possibility for even longer than that. But I can’t talk about it, Stormy. It’s all confidential.”
“Are you telling me that the paper has been teetering on the brink of shutting down forever? Is this why the paper was moved to all digital?”
I didn’t say anything. Stormy tiredly fell into a chair across from my desk and looked into the distance, deep in thought.
“Your severance package is very generous.” I said pulling out the file I had made for him months ago, “You’ll be allowed to cancel your contract with the station if you want to.”
Stormy flipped through the file, put it under his arm, and left without a word. I sighed. Not only did I have a meeting with Stormy, but I had them with Steve, Tom, Dina, and Suzy, among others. There were tears, there was yelling and anger; there was confusion, shock, and real pain on people’s faces. My friends looked at me like I had betrayed them. Dina gave me a hug, though.
She told me that she knew I was in an uncomfortable position and that she couldn’t hold it against me. I appreciated her words a lot and I think they got me through the rest of the day. When I came home from work, Stormy wasn’t there. He didn’t show up until really late and I’m pretty sure he’d been out drinking on account of the fact that my apartment smelled like a distillery almost as soon as he walked through the door. I thought it was best to give him his space and let him sleep it off. He’ll talk to me when he’s processed everything.