Bad news in the Mail
So Helen says I should start by putting my feelings down on paper, starting with the arrival of the letter and at least up to the first night I was here. So here it goes.
What were my feelings when I got the notice? I was in shock.
All my life I have been blessed, with perfect teeth, perfect hair, perfect legs and a metabolism that won't let me grow fat. I am not a "dumb Blonde", although I do have my moments. I was Honor's and Deans list from elementary school all the way to getting my masters in Computer Science at U of Ill, and I also am working on my MBA at Kellogg. All the right moves. I am the top systems business analyst for Services Plus and the number two person in sales support globally. I am on track to be VP of Sales before I am thirty.
And now on Monday, I get this "Notification to report for termination under the rules of the Population Control Act". And I am supposed to report for termination to a processor of my choice within one week. And for the first time in my life, I suddenly discover everything I had been doing was all for nothing.
Now, I don't mean to say I am totally shocked. I mean the one percent solution is well known in the U.S. Every year we select one percent of the female population from nineteen to forty for termination, globally. And it's in the back of every woman's mind as we go about the day. And the Meat Market has a totally different view from what our mothers and grand mothers saw daily.
And every hen party, the subject of how you want to go and what you would be graded as comes up. And we all have nervous survivor laughs when we walk past the grill or look at a Human Roast at a conference or party. I have to admit I have eaten my fair share.
Beginning in college was when the impact really hit us. Almost every week we had kids flunk out. But we also had them get removed due to selection. So I mean, I know what the thing is all about, in a disconnected sort of way. But now, at twenty-six, it is real and in my face.
I remember calling some of my BFFs and popping the news.
"Well, I guess we got to get Christmas cards out now" I told a few of them. And I had some gallows humor too. "I'll see where I am going if you want a piece of me."
An ex said that she always wanted one some day.
One of the senior account executives found out and reached out to me and asked me what I was going to do, and I asked her "What could I do?"
"Well, research it. There is a lot of stink going on here in Chicago about process plants and one of them seems to be doing a job of treating people right."
"Yea, Findley. I heard. But how do I get some real information? I mean, the people who go there are not able to come back out and do a findings document" I said with a laugh.
"Well, let me see what I can do to get an extension beyond this week, Mel. I will get back to you later today. But you owe it to yourself to find the right way to go if you have to. Check if they have a Web site."
So Wednesday night, I did. And I was shocked. They had a whole lot of information that included an intake questionnaire, a FAQ section, Legal aid, lawyer referral, possible exclusions and the forms for application, and a whole bunch of stuff.
They had a section of testimonials. Over thirty women who had come in, had intakes, and then given their impressions on how they were treated and what their expectations were.
They had a page on Grading, and talked about how they actually looked at your body (after you didn't need it any more) and also what restrictions they had on food, drugs and meals before you were admitted. (Not having to skip breakfast was funny.)
Then they had a Chat Room for selectees, and a Chat session for questions.
In the Chat Session, (Where you talked to a representative) a woman named "Cathy" told me that I should look first at the FAQ on extensions. "At least get a few days to get things in order".
So I checked there and saw that there were no loopholes open for me. After two glasses of wine, I started reading through the questionnaire. Phew. There is a lot of stuff on this form. Much of the information was for women with kids, as well as links to social services for minor kids assistance and a lot of other things. More then I knew. I realized I needed to talk to my lawyer at least. Then there was a whole section on Housing, checking and credit card accounts, and wills.
I popped back into the mod chat and asked "What are issues for Scheduling". I got an answer from "Cathy" that they were pretty backed up but they were still on a push from the PCB. So I should go to the scheduling module and get a firm appointment, and print out the confirmation and keep it with me.
So I did. Only this week was full. I went back to the Chat again, and Cathy asked me to give her my SSN. So I did. She said that I would have to do combined intake and process on the following Tuesday, and to be in for the morning session. My termination would be by five PM. That was the longest delay they could get me to get into Findlay. Otherwise I would have to go to H&S or M&H.
Screw that. Tuesday gave me a morning after my drop-dead date, so I grabbed it. Next thing I knew, I had a confirmation of appointment for intake and processing at Findley for Tuesday.
Now I grabbed my third glass of wine and dropped into the Findley chat room. There were a dozen of us in there blabbing away, and I saw a video link as well for some. I ended up in a hen party with a half dozen girls who were all due like me.
Let me tell you, knowing you were on your last week, and after three glasses of wine, you really get a little funny. It was gallows humor. And everyone was a stranger and still we were friends too. I was up until almost three in the morning chatting. We were laughing, crying, yelling, listening, and all sorts of things you can imagine. If I could record it I could have "The Worlds funniest Conversations" for sure.
I passed out at the keyboard at about three, and was kind of creaky when I got up. Going to work seemed kind of pointless, except to do the "clean up" that the questionnaire told me to do. I guess it made sense, getting all that stuff done early so I didn't think about it later.
My lawyer appointment on Thursday was brief. She said she was sorry (of course) and that these questionnaires seem make life a lot easier for her and the survivors (having a checklist that covered everything). She also told me that Carol Burns was the author of the questionnaire and checklist and that I didn't have to worry about any legal issues left loose. And if there were any legal extensions possible Carol would find them for sure.
I thought it was funny. My lawyer said "the best lawyer on extensions and exemptions runs the legal aid group at Findley". Struck me as weird that the slaughterhouse would employ people to keep them from being processed. Kelly (my lawyer) said it was nutty as a squirrel turd, but that was how Findley did things.
The rest of the week was kind of a blur. I remember doing chats every night for at least an hour. And meeting new people every night, as old ones dropped by and were processed. There were "Postcards" sent out by everyone their last night to their chat buddies talking about choices, and last wishes and last minute advice.
I got to admit it, all of this was supportative in a macabre way. It was pretty good about getting me back up to my normal self.
And I have to talk about that now. I am described as one of those "Perpetual Perky People". I was a great Pom-Pom and Cheerleader in high-school and college, and was actually considered to be on the Bears Football team as a professional Cheerleader. But my MBA studies got into the way. Besides, I wanted to be taken seriously in business and you can't get that if you flounce around on Sunday's and address the board on Monday. At best you are seen as a lightweight. Worst a piece of fluff and trophy wife.
Except for the first couple of days after my notice, I have almost never had a down or depressed day in my life. I am just not one to break and panic. There is a silver lining on every cloud. And if I am going to go away and end it, at least I will with a smile.
I have to tell you, being convinced by everyone at Findley that the styles they had were all "minimum pain" (except for the Gallows) off loaded a lot of stress. They won't talk about the "standard" process, but everything else on the menu is pretty open and clear to see. I don't see a lot of pain involved with any of them. It dropped a lot of angst off of me finding out that they took pain management so seriously.
The other things I kept hearing (from the testimonials and from the on line people) was that I wasn't meat until I was dead and that they weren't treating me like that.
(One of the gag lines is that you got more abused by Airport Security then you would at Findley.)
Gradually, it began to suck less with each day. Or maybe my mind just glossed over it. I do that. Really unpleasant things I sort of put in the back of my mind and put things around. My mom called it my Oyster behavior. If I got sand stuck in me, I wrapped it with juice until it hardened and was smooth. Just like an oyster does when it makes a Pearl. I managed to put things in the back and cover them up. So when I did deal with it, it was smooth with no rough edges.
Over the weekend I partied like a mad woman. I desperately wanted to enjoy what I had left. Even went for a long, long drive on Saturday and went out on the Lake on Sunday. I had lots of tears and angst with the family. Got all the good byes and I love you stuff out of the way.
.... There is more of this story ...