It started with a phone call.
I had one of THOSE days and decided to call Brett and see if he wanted to divert to Panera on his drive home for dinner. I envisioned us devouring bagels and cream cheese and just talking.
But when I buzzed him on the two-way, he told me he was already home.
Knowing he’d been battling bronchitis, I just assumed he had come home sick.
“How was your day, hon?” I asked.
“Was it a bad day?” I asked, confused by his silence.
“Are you at home or work?” he asked me.
“I’m at work, but I’m about to head out for the day. Honey, is something wrong? Did something happen at work today?”
After 8 years of marriage, I know my husband well enough to know the difference between a bad day and something worse.
I heard his labored breathing on the phone, a quiet sigh, and then the words.
“They let me go today.”
I imagine it must be exceedingly difficult for a man to tell his wife that he lost his job. Especially if that wife is me.
I imagine it’s hard for anyone to tell their spouse this news. There is always a concern the other person might fly off the handle or get sick with worry.
“Did they tell you why?” I asked, keeping my voice neutral.
“They were letting a lot of people go. They used the E-2 as an excuse, and there were other things they were telling people as reasons.” Brett’s voice was cautious.
I breathed in very slowly and asked the Lord to weigh in on every thought that had just zinged through my head. I begged for guidance and a reaction that would glorify God, despite my all-too-human emotions cruising dangerously close to the surface.
“Sweetheart, I’m so sorry. How are you holding up?” I said.
I heard a whoosh of relief on the other end of the line as my husband seemed to finally relax.
“I’ll tell you all about it when you get home,” he assured me.
When I got home, I went into the living room and sat on the couch with him. He smiled ruefully at me, and I found myself wanting to wrap him in a big bear hug. Which I did.
We got settled on the couch, and he told me all about it. For almost two hours he talked to me.
This is very rare. Being married to Brett is like being married to a mime. I always joke he has a ten-words-a-day maximum.
Ever since we started dating, I’ve known he is a man of few words. He’s content to let me do the talking, babbling on and on like a shallow brook, while he sits there contemplating many layers like a deep lake that is only placid on the surface.
Last night he went way over ten words, talking like someone who’s been living in a monastery for twenty years.
He recounted being called to the Human Resource office where he was treated like a “broken piece of plastic someone dumps in the trash,” and told me about Gus, the man who fired him in a callous and unkind manner.
Forcing me to stifle a sudden sophomoric desire to crank call the guy and give him what for.
After being fired, he was forced to do the Walk of Shame, escorted by security guards, as he emptied his pitiful locker. He was walked to the guard shack and unceremoniously told not to return for his last check. It would be mailed to him.
“You know the strange thing?” He looked at me.
“When Gus was firing me, I felt this strange peace come over me. I knew I had done everything in my power to do a good job. Whatever was going on was clearly not in my control. I always thought if I got fired I would either cry or run around the office breaking things in anger, but when it actually happened, I just had this strange peace.”
I smiled. Brett’s temper could fit in a gnat’s suitcase (and still have room for tiny, little gnat socks), so the mental image of my gentle giant raging in an office and threatening to permanently affix Post-It notes to people’s foreheads made me grin.
“Honey, that sounds suspiciously like a peace God gave you.”
“Well, yeah, that or the drugs,” he hoisted his recent bronchitis medicine in the air.
(Oh, what – he gets fired and NOW he’s funny? Is that what it took? :-))
“You know, I was so afraid to tell you. I was afraid you would be disappointed. I really feel like I let you down. You don’t know what a relief it was that you weren’t upset.”
“Well, I love you. I know you gave your all to this job. Things like this happen. We’re in this together, you know.” I said, assuming my noble, long-suffering wife pose.
Inwardly saying, thankyouGod, thankyouGod, thankyouGod
“You know what we need?” I asked, getting up from the couch.
“A job?” says my suddenly-funny man.
“Well, yeah, but also some sugar and some chocolate!”
“Cookies?” he asked, hopefully.
“You bet your sweet, fired behind! I’m going to make you the best You’ve Just Been Fired Chocolate Chip Cookies you’ve ever had.” I said, heading to the kitchen.
Over the next couple of hours, I made cookies while we watched Deal or No Deal and made jokes about how Brett should apply, now that he doesn’t have to worry about getting time off from work.
When the YJBFCC cookies were hot out of the oven, I took a plate into the living room. We both ate a lot of cookies, yelling things like “You’ve been fired…into my mouth, Cookie,” as we got more and more slap-happy off the sugar.
We discussed possible new jobs for Brett. Fun ones that had him wearing a chef’s hat at IHOP, or shirtless as a bouncer at a bar. “The lady said she wasn’t interested, buddy. Move it or lose it!”
We topped off the night by watching an action movie, and lamenting our lack of movie- star good looks that would bring us multi-million dollar paychecks.
I headed to bed before Brett (since I still have a job). As I got ready for bed, I found myself thanking God for His abundant grace. He turned what could have been a horrible night filled with shouted accusations, guilt, and anger into a warm, loving bonding experience.
I could imagine myself, years later, asking Brett, “Remember that crazy night you got fired?”
And him saying, “Yeah, those were the days. Remember how God provided for us?”
And then moments later…
“Is it just me or do you suddenly feel like a piping hot chocolate chip cookie right about now?”