The Resignation

I was fortunate to have kept my job for as many months as I did, though eventually someone at work found the court documents online. Two weeks after pleading guilty, I was seated at my desk when I felt a soft tap on my shoulder and turned to see my boss standing behind me.

"Can I see you for a minute?"

He knows, I thought.

I followed him past rows of cubicles towards the HR department. My heart was pounding. I felt lightheaded. Fearing the embarrassment that certainly lie ahead, I considered offering to simply leave without any confrontation.

"Some news has come to my attention," he said, "and I've been asked to take action."

I was expecting anger or disgust, but I heard only sympathy in his voice.

Outside of a conference room, he placed his hand on my shoulder and nudged me softly through the door. "Take care of yourself," he said before walking away.

Seated at the table were three women from HR and a man I'd never seen before in a suit fiddling with a Blackberry. One of the women offered me a seat, and so the conversation began.

"Something has come to our attention that has made the company uncomfortable, so I have to inform you that today will be your last day here." They made no mention of what exactly had come to their attention, nor did I ask.

They gave me the choice to resign, which I accepted, and I was told I'd be paid severance and whatever PTO hours I had accrued. Once the man in the suit figured I wasn't going to put up a fight, he got up from his chair and left the room without a word.

While I signed the necessary paperwork, one of the HR managers left to go clean out my desk. She returned with a box of computer cords, legal pads, and a half-eaten bag of goldfish crackers. My coworkers often teased me about my sparse work area. The truth was that I had begun taking a few items home with me each day in preparation of this moment.

That night after breaking the news of my firing to my parents, I called my boss.

"I can't tell you how sorry I am," he said. "Nobody had any idea. You acted as if nothing was wrong."

I told him briefly about the events that had unfolded over the past year, including the interrogation. It turned out HR knew the FBI had been to the office to question me, but nobody knew why and they figured it must not have been important because I seemed unbothered.

The reality was that every day following the FBI's visit was hell, and that work had been the only thing keeping my mind off my troubles.

Before hanging up, my boss told me he'd enjoyed working with me and that I was incredibly talented and would be missed.