Monday, March 17, 2008

Other News

A week before I got the final word on the book deal, something else happened in our home. Three Fridays ago, when I was busy exchanging emails about final titles and moving commas around in the book proposal, my husband found out that the big boss at his company would be coming to his office for a meeting. 
I said, "So what?"
Larry said, "I think I'm getting fired." To this, I shook my head. No one is more talented, no one works harder than my husband. 
Larry spent the weekend saying, "I think I'm losing my job on Monday." I don't know how many times I said, forget it, no way. They'd be crazy. 

Someday I really will learn that my husband is always right. He called at 11:30 on Monday and left a message on the answering machine, which I retrieved after Sammie and I got home from her swimming lesson. On it, he said, "Party's over." This was no good. Life with two children and no incomes and no health insurance would devolve quickly. I calculated our savings, our emergency money, our retirement funds. How many months could we spread them across? And then what? That's what I thought about while I dialed his office. 

He told me the story. The big boss brought his flunkie to the office (why do these guys always, always have a sidekick?) under the auspices of having a meeting with the sales office. Larry pulled every favor he had with everyone, until someone a few rungs above him took him into a room and told him the truth. In twenty minutes the big boss would come into Larry's office and tell him that these editorial offices will close. Fifteen people, some in their fifties, some in their early sixties would lose their jobs in a little over a month. 

Let me jump in here with two facts. The first is that this big boss is called "Big Daddy." No one calls him this to his face, but absolutely everyone who works closely with him in the central office, the Mothership, calls him this behind his back. Second, he drives a powder blue Rolls Royce. I know this because I have done some contract work for the Mothership and I was on the phone with one of the editors there who looked out his window on that spring morning and saw this Rolls circling around and said, "I think an NBA player got himself lost in our parking lot." Then after a few minutes he said, "Oh, no, that's just Big Daddy coming to work." True story.

Larry spent the intervening minutes removing pictures of our children from the walls of his office. I have had the habit of emailing him photos of the kids that he would print out and tack up on the walls. Kids on swing sets, kids in highchairs with spaghetti in their hair. Kids clutching inflatable tubes in a lazy blue pool. All these came down. Then he found a cardboard box and put all the personal items from his desktop into it along with the photos. The box he sat by the door of his office. Big Daddy had to walk around it to make his big pronouncement.

I was stunned by Larry's gesture. "Why did you do that?"
"Because you don't get to look at my family while you do this."
My response? "Honey, I've never wanted you more than I do right now."

They were a rough few days that week. We didn't sleep much, and I wasn't overly concerned about the book proposal going out. It was out of my hands and so when the agent called with this offer or that, I was pretty detached. But that Friday, when we had a deal, and a good one, I called Larry and told him. He was thrilled--for me and for us. (I didn't want to write about any of this at the time until I had his okay.)

He just has a few weeks left of work. I'd like him not to rush into another job, any old job. And he can't, anyway. He's spending time meeting final deadlines and funneling job leads to his staff. I don't know how to end this post. I don't know what's going to happen next.

Wait. I do know how to end it. That Friday night, we opened a bottle of champagne. The book deal really did seem like a miracle. I said to Larry, "I'm glad you're not going to be working there anymore." 

"Glad?" he said. "I'm ecstatic."

1 comment:

Grace T said...

This is fabulous! It's a rollercoaster ride with a few stops thrown in to breathe and take in the scenery.

I'm glad it ends well in the end, and thank goodness Larry doesn't have to answer to Big Daddy in his power blue Rolls anymore.