October 19 was the tenth anniversary of the day we were all fired. Our high-tech company had been purchased by an industry giant with a reputation for jettisoning “redundant” employees. In hopes of minimizing sabotage by outgoing workers, the new owners went through the charade of conducting interviews as if they intended to keep some of us on, but I knew it was a sham. My director was told that not everyone would be fired; months later, he was still apologizing for repeating their lies.

Things got crazy in those last weeks. Someone sent around an anonymous e-mail suggesting we vandalize company-owned trees in the atrium. After that, we heard rumors that we would be individually escorted out of the building when they fired us. The new owners hired security guards with conspicuous side arms to patrol the parking lot. We took all our personal belongings home for fear we’d be prevented from removing anything on “the day.”