Editor’s note: This week, Reuters Opinion is going to be publishing five excerpts – one each day – from D.W. Gibson’s new book, Not Working, an oral history of the recession. Gibson spent months traveling across America talking to people who had been laid off.
Today’s entry is Heather Dupree’s. Heather is a 38-year-old who lives in Marietta, Georgia. She grew up in Miami and went to Florida International University. Her dad worked for Pan Am, and her parents relocated to Atlanta when the company was acquired by Delta. After college, Heather followed her parents to Georgia. She shares a home in a wooded neighborhood with her partner, Leslie, and Leslie’s sixth-grade daughter, Gabby, from a previous relationship.
This is Heather’s story.
I actually went to school for a couple different things; I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do. Originally, I wanted to teach, so I have a minor in education. And then I decided late that I wanted to get into computers. So I got my bachelor’s in communications with a bunch of computer classes underneath it, and I started doing websites when I was in college.
I got on with a healthcare company. They brought me on as a contractor to rebuild their website. I was with C. for seven years, and in March of 2010 they laid me off. My boss walked back into my office with me and shut the door, and he just started crying. And then I just lost it. I tried to be strong, but I can’t actually sit there and watch a man cry without crying. So I was pretty upset. And then I just called Leslie and said, “You’ve gotta come pick me up.”
And she’s like, “What’s going on?”
I’m like, “You really just need to come pick me up.”
She got there, and she thought that they had let my boss go, and that’s why I was upset. And I was like, “Nope. That’s not really it…” So that’s kind of how that went down. And I really didn’t even have a chance to, you know, say goodbye to anybody really at that time. They were kind of just, like, “Hey, get your stuff and pack it up.”