Outside Linebackers, and Speeding Tickets, and Stages of Mourning


I was a bad, bad boy! I was pulled over, about 25 feet from my parking lot at work, for speeding. I guess, at 43, that officially makes me a grown-up. I shouldn’t feel like I’ve managed some rite of passage, but I do. As I sat there, waiting for the gentleman from Department of Homeland Security to return my license and registration, I noted at least 15 other employees blast through at varying speeds well beyond 25 mph. I guess it was just my turn.

The cop was kind of a jerk. He approached the window and barked “License and registration.” I dug it out, and he walked off without saying a word. When I stuck my head out the window and asked “What’s going on?” he barked back, “40 in a 25!”

Then I got to sit there for a half hour. He called a motorcycle cop. I suppose he was the one who’d set the speed trap. I had a sudden panic attack that there might have been a warrant out for my arrest for some random unpaid parking ticket. They sat around and laughed and gabbed for a good 10 minutes.

I blame my wife. Well, I would blame her if she let me blame her for stuff. She talked me into leaving work to eat lunch with her. We had grocery store deli food, while she got her medicine for a sinus infection at the pharmacy. The grocery store had Washington Redskins rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigan signing autographs. I’d never heard of him. Apparently he’s one of the only good things the football team’s got in its favor this year. He was so young! I bet he just started shaving last year or something. Needless to say, I didn’t bother to get his autograph although I work with a guy who’s a die-hard Purdue/Redskins fan. I nearly got one, just to wave it in his face and make him jealous. I’m really mature that way.

Wow. I’m nearly 300 words into the blog and I still haven’t said what I was meaning to post this morning.

I was thinking about Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief today. I haven’t been grieving really, and I know much work has been done that purportedly renders her research meaningless, but some people need to put a framework around what they’re feeling, in order to really examine the emotions and deal with them better. You’re probably familiar with the five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Kübler-Ross claims that each person goes through the grieving process in roughly those stages. It got me thinking about the more horrific experiences of my life: loss of nieces, loss of a home, and recently, loss of a job. I think the stages apply to more than grief in the traditional sense.

Judi asked me a question yesterday, as she was reading my résumé. She said “Why haven’t you taken steps to get a new job yet, even though it’s been a month?” I thought for awhile before I could answer. I told her “I wasn’t ignoring the job. It’s something I’ve been thinking about every single day since I found out I was to be laid off.” I thought awhile longer and said “I guess I was just pissed and had to get over that before I could move on.” She said “Oh. That’s good. I thought you might have been depressed, or in denial.”

I have been thinking about our conversation since then. I thought it was interesting that, without really knowing it, we pointed at three of the five stages. I really have gone through all of them, in this job loss. But I was in denial, or shock at first. I couldn’t believe that this place would let me go. I’ve done excellent work. Just a week before, I received 2 awards (accompanied by cash bonuses) for work above and beyond my normal duties. How could I be let go?

Then I was angry. Boy howdy. Anger stood out, because when I was a kid, anger was the most “acceptable” of the 5 stages to publically display. I generally show anger via cynical comments. I took a day off here and there. I’ve been sick. Yeah. Sick of this office. And sick of seeing the ugly faces of the ugly people who populate the ugly place. And sick of being treated poorly.

Then I was bargaining. What if my boss could somehow get me another position, or rename the position? Maybe I could find a way to stay here, or change departments.

Then I was angry again. This place SUCKS! Why would I want to stick around this hole anymore? Kübler-Ross says a person can jump around in the list, so I did. So sue me.

Then I was depressed. I did a lot of writing, and dreaming, and I was pretty silent, much to the consternation of my online friends, who are used to hearing from me every single day. It wasn’t as bad as my Bethany years, but I was still plenty bummed out, and found that it was easier to cope with weekends with a couple extra beers and a couple extra naps. And ignoring everything by playing silly games, and focusing on my writing, which generally has nothing whatsoever to do with work. But through all of it, I was pretty down.

Then came acceptance. I somehow had to re-validate myself. I am like a speeding ticket. Speaking of which, I just got one of those tickets, about 24 hours after I completed my resume, and then I applied for three jobs. I finally felt released from this place, and on Friday I did something about it. I made a few connections, looked at a few sites, and decided it was time to move on. This current job is now my past.

I know I blogged about this a month or so ago, and a few people told me they were impressed with my good attitude. I haven’t lost that, I think. Every day is a minor up and down. Maybe part of being a grown-up is learning to maneuver the Grief Stages without pissing everyone off around you, and without getting speeding tickets. Or maybe, as usual, I’m full of crap.

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2 thoughts on “Outside Linebackers, and Speeding Tickets, and Stages of Mourning”

  1. And I agree that it makes *no* sense. Awards?! Come on! Where’s the love, people! You just tell lil’ ol’ Susan who to back over. Remember, I have an SUV 😉

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  2. Yay! I liked this. Good to know what’s going on in your head. I never knew you could jump around in the stages of grief. I also believe it applies to more than just traditional definitions of “loss”. I think as we get older, we cut ourselves more slack in processing stuff because we really know ourselves – finally. Sounds like you’re getting to the other side, sans the dead chicken.

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