Sometimes in life for a very short and temporary moment, someone else takes over the direction that you or career is going.
It’s fleeting and it can be cruel.
At the time, it feels like the devastation or hurt will be for an eternity and that you will never regain the power again.
Around this time 365 days ago, I had one of those days. It turned everything upside down and inside out at such a speed, it felt like I could not breathe. 365 days later, I’m not bitter or angry, but I am still a bit hurt and scarred by it all but it doesn’t define who I am…let me explain.
On an August afternoon, I walked into a small room where I worked, for a meeting that I myself had been asked to organise. I sat down with my diary and pen in front of me to schedule some plans.
The next three minutes literally knocked me off my feet. Yes, three minutes. It took all of 180 seconds to tell me that, after nearly five years, my services were no longer required.
It’s still all a bit of a blur. Budgets. The Board. Cut backs. Finances. They were “sorry”. I went from shock to sheer anger – I had one of the best performing shows. I worked my ass off solidly for nearly five years. There were difficult times when our working relationship was frayed like when I’d been accused of wrongdoing but subsequently vindicated- yet I still showed up. Not only had I turned up, but I was consistently gaining listeners. And they were coming after ME?!?!
I couldn’t breathe. I ran, literally ran to grab my bag, out the doors, frantically to my car, desperately trying to keep the huge tears and sobbing under control until I reached the safety of my car. Joey! I just need to talk to Joey.
A colleague, who didn’t know what had just happened and had just seen my white face full of shock, had chased me down the road concerned. In my flustered state I told him I was okay, I just needed to get into my car; I needed to speak to Joey. Unbeknownst to me at the time, he stood there and watched me for ten minutes until he was sure I wasn’t going to pass out, that I was calm and safe to drive. I’m very thankful of the kindness he showed that day.
Pick up, pick up, plllllllease pick up. Please Joey, pick up. If I do a double ring, he’ll know it’s important. That’s the rule you see, if you ring a second time, something is up, I was lost in that thought;
Then I hear his voice; ” Hiya, you okay?”
No words came out, I was hysterical, trying to talk but the words distorted leaving my mouth and became wails, trying to catch my breath between them, the tears just dropped out of my eyes not having time to make a graceful exit and trickle down my cheek. I was wailing like a wounded animal.
Suzi, Suzi, SUZI! STOP, you’re okay, take a breath, breath for me, take a breath, in, out, Suz, are you listening to me, please take a breath. Suzi you’re worrying me, What’s happened?!?
Gasp, yeah, gasp, yes!
“Okay, now talk to me. What’s happened, are you okay?”
I then began through the tears to explain that I had just been told I was being made redundant in four weeks, that financially they couldn’t justify keeping me due to cutbacks and the rest is a blur.
Then; the wave of devastation and fear came back, the words tumbled out and yet again, the tears were streaming. Joey! We’ve just bought our house, GULP, we’ve a mortgage, GASP, bills, GULP, hospital bills, GASP, another baby on the way in a few weeks. Jesus Christ I can’t breathe.
“We’ll be okay Suzi, please stop crying, don’t worry, please, you’re seven and a half months pregnant Suz, you can’t get this stressed. Please take a breath, all will be well. Are you listening to me, Suz, ALL WILL BE WELL. It’s okay. We’ll be okay. Please take a breath. Are you okay to drive, should I come and get you?
I looked at my clock. It was 2.15pm. 15 minutes is all it took for me to realise that after nearly five years, it was all over.
I drove straight to Joey.
I didn’t go to work the next morning, I had been physically sick all night. I was pregnant, miserable and worried sick about the future.
I still had four weeks left to wrap up and ship out.
The next four weeks were marred with meetings and whispers. There wasn’t a lot of eye contact. I had to tell all of the amazing people who contributed to my show over the years that I was shipping out early. I was crippled with embarrassment.
I expected that at some point there would be an uncomfortable meeting and talk of situations beyond their control or something about me being great at my job and the unfortunateness of it all. That never happened. There was an uneasy atmosphere and understandably, people were worried that they too could be in the firing line. After all, what had I actually done wrong to deserve the bullet?
As it turned out, nobody else was. My part time salary cut must have been the solution to the company’s financial struggles. I’m not sure how; maybe Eddie Hobbs showed them how make their money go further.
Anyone, even now, those who ask or know about my redundancy who know the basic details that I worked there for nearly five years, was seven and a half months pregnant have all said the same thing.
“I presume you’re taking them to court, you’d get a fortune“. “I hope you got thousands from them.” They all missed the most important part of my redundancy reality. Yes, I’m sure I could have gone the legal route. I looked into the WRC, I had a solicitor but to be honest, there were two mitigating factors.
First, I was very pregnant. I was so stressed and sick, the baby’s health and mine were at risk. Nothing is worth that. Also, in my opinion, they didn’t care about me, my health, my unborn baby, they just needed rid of me. If they had to fight, they would and either way the outcome would remain the same, me unemployed.
The second-and the most important part is I wasn’t interested in “screwing them” for a pay-out. Compensation wasn’t the issue, my job was. I was losing my job and I was devastated. I loved my job. I didn’t want to lose it, end of.
I know not too many people can say that, but I truly loved my job. I didn’t always love all of the people I worked with, but I loved my job and my show. I had taken it from nothing and built a listener ship with no help, no big campaigns, no budget, no team – NOTHING. It was just me and I worked hard at it. After I had Oisín I worked two days a week but was always working to get bits for the show sorted. Every inch of that show was mine and I was so proud of it.
Every quarter we had listenership results, every quarter I gained listeners, some of my colleagues took hits; and some were big, but my show was consistent in its growth. I was so proud of my achievement.
Having to leave the job I loved, sit back, and listen, as my show taken over by someone else was a devastating part of the redundancy.
On the 14th of September, I turned off my computer and walked out the door for the last time. There was no send off, no whip around, no gift, “thanks for your service” email, not even a “sorry you’re leaving card” – nothing. Its moments and days like that which tells you a lot about your colleagues and people you considered as friends. It was very sobering.
After nearly five years, I felt as if I was the one who had done something wrong, as if I had let the company down, that it was my fault I’d lost my job.
At that point, other than sadness, I had an overwhelming sense of embarrassment. I was mortified that I had lost my job- but I didn’t lose it; it was taken from me. I did snap the day I left with a smile on my face saying something about all good things come to an end, some crap basically. It was a defence mechanism to stop a torrent of questions or having to explain what was going on because I was still struggling to get my head around it. I felt almost like I had some part to play in the decision but I didn’t. At one of the most vulnerable times of my life, I was utterly out of control and helpless.
So here we are a year on. No big pay-out, no court case and no big fight. It’s still raw and still stings, but it’s over and I’m starting to put it behind me.
My real redundancy reality is that I miss the 7am drive in to work. I’d have a cup of tea in the car, listen to The Chris Moyles Show and watch Dublin wake up and start moving as I sat in traffic on the quays. Also, I miss some of the people, and their banter and the work environment. I miss pushing the heavy studio doors, popping in my headphones and losing myself in ‘Something for the Weekend’. I miss my job.
A year later I’m sitting writing this for my website, MY WEBSITE. The idea I toyed with but never dared take the leap.
You see, if I’m honest with you, I believed my job defined me. I was so wrong. The past few months have taught me that. I’m so much more than that job.
So now I try to take the hidden message, blessing in disguise, silver lining, whatever you want to call it from the hardest few weeks I’ve ever had to endure.
I’m not stressing over that job or about going back. The worry of being replaced or pitching for a job I already have doesn’t exist.
I’m starting to enjoy being at home, which, to be really honest the thoughts of used to make my blood run cold but I like being chief amuser to Hannah and wrangling Oisín. I’d say that will tire eventually, but for now it’s nice to spend time and watch them grow.
I’ve great TV opportunities on TV3, my podcast Dubland with PJ Gallagher has 400.000 listens and I launched this website. I love Suzi Says and I’m so proud to Have Notions and finally put pen to paper.
I’m sure in time to come the financial side of things will ease but most of all I’m thankful I had a husband who could see it through, believe in me and know, as he said “all will be well”.