At first I thought losing my job was a disaster. For the first week I was depressed. I knew my lay off was a scam. It was because of the sexual harassment lawsuit. I was in a helpless situation. The job market was not good as the economy was in a recession from the technology bubble bursting. Companies were not hiring people with my skills, especially managers.
I had applied for quite a few manager jobs online and in person but nothing. No return calls. No new job.
I felt helpless and pressed for time. I had a month of severance pay so the time clock was running out.
I was very edgy. Sue avoided being around me as I complained about trivial things. With all the time on my hands my main job was keeping the house clean. If Sue left something out of place I nagged her. I wanted the house neat. I watched a lot of TV during the day time. There was a lot of junk on TV. Jerry Springer’s TV talk show was my main entertainment in the day time. It was about dysfunctional relationships. I think one of the reasons this show was one of my favorites during that time was because the people on the show had bigger problems than I did.
Seth called me one evening.
“Whappen star. I heard they laid you off”
Seth was trying his best to learn patois. He had been listening to me talk to other Jamaicans and also was going out to Jamaican clubs. He was making some progress with Krystal Yu. They went out twice already. He thought learning patois would impress her. I tried to tell him that she would not be impressed by it because she was an uptowner and speaking patois was probably forbidden at her home. I told him she could understand it but probably does not speak it well. He did not care. He was determined to learn patois as he thought it would show his love for the culture.
I could not bear telling him how bad he sounded speaking patois. Today, his call speaking patois brought a smile to my face.
“Yes, they called me in and laid me off”, I replied
“Why” he asked
I could not keep it inside. I told him about everything leading up to my lay off.
“It sound like you have enough evidence to sue them for an unfair lay off.” he mentioned.
I was still upset and ignored what he said about suing them.
“Yes. It was unfair.” I was venting.
He asked again. “Are you going to sue?”
I am thinking about it I replied. I was lying.
If I was not illegal I would have sued them. I watched enough Law and Order to see how the defense destroyed people on the stand with hidden information they thought would never get out.
Seth called me every other day to see how I was doing. It helped, as I had someone encouraging me however it also hurt as he told me what was going on in the office. Knowing what was going on made it feel it like I was still there.
I was contacted by Jeannie’s lawyer to testify at the sexual harassment case. I declined as again I felt my past employee would research information on me and find out I was illegal.
It was more difficult to get a good job at big companies were stricter on proof of residency to work. I had a driver’s license, state ID and Social Security card which should be enough. Some were asking for your green card and birth certificate. It was also a bad job Market.
I felt helpless and unworthy. It took me 4 days before I told Rosa. Her response was timid. She did not seem surprised.
I told Sue the day it happened. She was upset when I told her the reason I think I was laid off. Sue was at the point where she was near graduation with her Masters. She was not going to marry Sidney even though he now had his green card. He got his green card through a program that allowed people who started a business in the US and employed a number of people. He asked Sue a few times recently to marry him but she turned him down. She was going back home after graduation. She had a few contacts in Jamaica who promised her they can get her a job. I hoped she would have accepted Sidney’s proposal even though I hated his guts. It was another option for getting legal.
Telling my parents was my great fear. I was the bread winner and they did not have to send any supplemental money for years now.
It took me 2 weeks before I told them. The response was surprising.
My parents wanted me to finish school. They suggested I find a part time job and go to school full-time to get my degree. It was a great idea as I had been taking classes at Florida Atlantic University, toward my bachelor’s degree when I could. If I went full time it would take me a year to get my bachelors degree.
It really lifted my spirits. The burden of supporting the house was no longer mine. I was happy; some of the pressure of finding a job was gone.
I found a part time job at a 24 hour Walgreens. I would work 25 to 30 hours per week in the evening and go to school in the day.
I was always envious of Sue getting her education and me not getting that opportunity. Now I was going to get that opportunity.
The timing was perfect as the semester was just starting.
Rosa seemed indifferent about the news. Since I was laid off she seemed very distant. We had been distant since the wedding was called off, however, there seemed to be a wider gap. She was distracted. We were down to seeing each other once a week and it was mainly for sex. She used to tell me that being a doctor is stressful because of the life and death decisions she made daily. I think I was her stress relief from the job. I wondered if she was seeing someone else. There was no way to know and I dared not ask. I still held out hope that we would get married. I left it alone.
I was excited about going back to school full-time.
The first week of school was uneventful. It was not the same as night school. The first week at Walgreens was interesting. I worked stocking the shelves and cleaning. There was a Jamaican guy that worked on my shift. He was very tall and used to play basketball.
Rosa called late one evening the first week of school.
“Can we meet for dinner this week” She asked. It was strange as we have not gone out for a while.
“Sure, but it will have to be Wednesday as that is my day off”
“Okay” Rosa replied. She asked if we could meet at restaurant near her house. I agreed.
We talked a little before ending the call.
Something was going on. Maybe she was going to break up with me for good. We were going to meet at the same restaurant where she asked me to call off the wedding. I could not invest a lot of time on what was going to happen. I was busy with school and adjusting to the new job. I was extremely tired adjusting to the schedule, an emotional ride with Rosa is the last thing I needed. I had already believed the relationship was over but we just hung on for familiarity. I was hanging on mainly for the marriage.
The Wednesday dinner date came quickly.
I was running late for dinner with Rosa due to an accident on the I-95. My commute was a little different as I was now leaving school in the afternoons when there was more traffic. The drive from the Florida Atlantic University Boca campus to North Miami was much longer in the daytime. It was one thing I hated when I switched to a day schedule. When I traveled to classes at night it was a breeze going to school and back.
As I pulled up to the restaurant I could see Rosa sitting outside on the waiting bench. She was dressed really nice. I walked up to her expecting her to complain about me being late. Instead she approached me and gave me a big hug. Then she planted a kiss on my lip.
Is she making me feel safe before she goes in for the kill?
A bubbly greeter met us at the door and took us to our table.
As we sat down I tried to look at Rosa’s eyes for signs of what she was going to tell me.
A waiter appeared at the table. It interrupted me trying to read Rosa’s eyes.
We ordered water and some appetizers. The waiter left.
It did not take long for Rosa to tell me why she wanted to meet for dinner.
“I was offered a great job at a hospital in Orlando. I want to take it”‘ she then started to describe the offer and what she would be doing.
I was not sure how to react. It was not what I expected. I thought she was going to breakup with me.
“So what do you think?”
What was I supposed to think? I asked myself. I was totally caught off guard.
What am I to say? We were not really having a model relationship up until today when she greeted me outside. I also felt honored that she was asking my opinion.
“It sounds like a great opportunity” I replied.
“So you are okay if I accept?” she asked.
Her eyes were bright. She was excited. It was the happiest I had seen her in a while. How could I tell her I wanted her stay on the hope we get married soon. I know it was not going to happen. It was time I faced the truth and move on.
“Sure, I am so excited for you”
She jumped across the table and gave me a big hug.
“It will be great. I will call you everyday. You can come up to Disney on the weekends”
So the relationship would continue. She did not call me here to break it off. She wanted to pursue her career.
She wanted a long distance relationship. I did not.