The human mind is a creature not easily deflected from its current path by a change in circumstances, especially one that takes place in such a short period of time that one can hardly convince oneself that it could be truly consequential. It had been a mere twenty minutes between when Sarah's work was interrupted by a young man who said, "Sarah Wolfe? Could you come down to see the director in Conference Room A for a moment," and the present moment in which she found herself walking across the parking lot with a folder under her arm marked "Severance: Wolfe, Sarah".
That such a brief and low-voicedly polite exchange -- The company is grateful for your twelve years of service. This bears no reflection upon your performance. If you will sign this release, the company would like to offer you eight weeks severance and two pre-paid sessions with a certified career coach. -- could mark a major turning point in her life seemed impossible.
Her mind continued on the track from which it had been so abruptly distracted. Jeff in distribution would have to be called about those processors. Sales would have to be informed of the lead time change. Too much of the morning had been spend on cleaning up messes that could easily have been avoided -- she would need to craft a new PowerPoint about the detailing the standard operating procedures for commodity procurement and emphasizing the importance of obeying them.
And yet little jarring details stood out as she crossed the parking lot. The light was wrong, neither lunch-time glare nor the sinking sun a the end of the day, but bright mid-morning. The rows of cars stretched on unbroken and silent. The lot was full, everyone at their desks. And the street beyond was quiet. All these betokened that the natural order, long reliable, had suddenly been thrown off its course. And her parked three-series, when she reached it, had changed form -- looking no longer like a badge of success but rather like a payment due on the twentieth of every month.