I once saw a guy get fired. I was sitting on a bench outside of the offices of the company where I had an interview later that afternoon. It was a Tuesday, a little after two o’clock, an hour or so before my interview. I was leafing through my portfolio of projects I’d initiated at my old company, several copies of my resume, my cover letter. I had spent half the night looking through that portfolio, and I had all but memorized the exact wording of each page. Still, I leafed.
It was on the third or fourth flip-through that I swiped my thumb just right. The paper cut stung immediately, and I instinctively lifted the finger to my mouth. It was then that I saw the man in the blue suit standing over the blond-haired man seated with his back to me. There was something in his face that gave me pause. I had caught the second between not knowing something and the knowing. There were no dramatics, no tears or angry gestures, but there was a staggering in his face. When he turned to leave the blond man’s office, he swung the door behind him. I remember how it didn’t close all the way.
I sat on the bench thinking about how that man had to go home. He had to figure out how he would keep affording that home, how – if he had one – he would keep affording his family or how – if he didn’t – he’d ever afford a family. I’m not religious, so I didn’t pray for him or invest any hope in his future well-being. When he walked out of the building half an hour later, I didn’t even look at him. I just kept my eyes on my resume, on the tiny streak of blood that remained after I lifted my thumb to turn the page.