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Day 4 — Your Stuff, Getting It

Day 4 -- Your Stuff, Getting It

Three days later, I returned to my former place of employment to retrieve my belongings—a bike, posters, kid pictures and a few books. Nothing much, and things I could live without, except for my son’s artwork. I did want that back. I wasn’t so sure I’d be riding my bike again, given my bad back and now no good insurance to repair it. But it was worth retrieving, because maybe I could always sell it.

Rush hour had passed, but I ran into bumper-to-bumper traffic, which took me longer than expected to drive downtown. I pulled up in the parking lot at 8 PM and looked for the HR director, who was waiting in the office lobby. As I turned off the engine, the only thing I could think about was getting my belongings as fast as possible. I still couldn’t believe that a place I once found so welcoming could turn on me like a rabid raccoon. The HR director-in-waiting escorted me to my cubicle. She was friendly enough and a bit hurried. We didn’t chitchat, not even about the weather. She said the office manager was busy overseeing the clean-out of another office mate who had come to get her stuff. She had brought some empty boxes and asked if I needed anymore. I said I didn’t think so.

She left. My computer was on. My email account was still active, but the password, not surprisingly, had been changed. I decided to see if I could delete some more email. The IT department had been smart enough to disable that function. However, I could still export my contacts to a file, in between looking like I was busy cleaning out my drawers.

I thought about getting caught and what they would do to me. They could further humiliate me by calling a security guard to watch me clear out my desk, or they could pack my belongings for me. But I gambled that I could take what I needed off the computer without getting caught because in an odd sort of way they still must have trusted me; otherwise why wasn’t there a guard standing over me?

Although I couldn’t delete email from the inbox, it appeared that I successfully deleted a mail folder. But I’ll never know. I also launched Internet Explorer and deleted all of my browsing history, cookies and so on. I sent another folder in the My Documents directory to the Recycle Bin and then emptied it. In between, the HR director checked on me, but the office manager was too clueless to notice when he came into my office and my hands dropped away from the keyboard. That’s the one advantage of working for a company that is technologically backward.

My computer skills are sharp, and I could have done major damage to its file-sharing server. But that would have been stupid. I’m not stupid, and I’m not revengeful. Given my third-degree treatment on the day I was let go, I thought the company would have posted someone inside my office as I cleaned it out. In Howard Gardner’s 1993 book, Frames of Mind, he introduced the theory of multiple intelligences. My strengths were linguistic and intrapersonal intelligence. They help me regulate my life.  The company’s collective smarts obviously did not include totally out-foxing someone of my caliber.

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