Nearly 15 years have passed since our last forced pairing. I treated you so unfairly. You received no respect, no regard for your identity. Wardrobe shopping continued, $8-per-pound flavored coffees were brewed, comic-book and electronic-gadget collections expanded. I didn’t even inconvenience myself to cancel HBO.
More time was spent emptying my savings and charging up my credit card than helping you gracefully transition away from my life. You were kept hidden, tucked away in my briefcase with outdated resumés, half-completed job applications, marked-up classified ads, and check stubs from the unemployment office. You humiliated me.
But now you are threatening to visit again. Your approach is fast enough to generate panic, slow enough to foster apathy. Your final arrival will be a surprise like the culmination of pregnancy—the exact moment, although expected, completely uncertain.
What questions you must be asking yourself as you journey toward me. Will you be ignored? Will you be disrespected? Will you get to visit long? Will you be hidden from my relatives and friends? Will your goal of disruption be satisfied? Will you generate humiliation?
Not this time. I didn’t obfuscate, steal—destroy lives. I didn’t tell analysts my company was in perfect health while selling stock by the bucketful. It wasn’t me on the 50th floor filling my personal accounts with millions, telling employees that a bankrupt company couldn’t afford their salary.
It wasn’t me hiding in my tinted-window limo, driving up the back way through the secure gates while the rest of the employees who survived the bankruptcy were marched into the building in front of TV cameras, reporters positioned for attention, petitioning for some sound bite.
I wasn’t sitting at home all day, watching CNN on the 62-inch plasma-screen TV screwed to the faux finish in the 800-square-foot bedroom of my mansion—furnished with 150-year-old furniture previously owned by royalty, walls adorned with paintings by names I can’t pronounce—while lesser employees cleaned up the corporate disorder fostered by my personal greed.
In truth, I stuck around, helped clean up after those people. I remained despite 10,000 layoffs, countless indictments, and even jail terms. I will not be ashamed when you arrive, Unemployment.
And don’t get comfortable at our next reunion; your stay will be short, your calamity will not reign. This time, I will be prepared for the day my electronic security badge no longer opens the doors at Enron.
See you soon,