Flash in the Pan

A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

A Company Merger Is Like A Death

by Kay Butzin

First there was denial.

In the human resources department, we had expected our fifty-year-old hospital to retain a controlling interest in the new corporation. We felt certain our director, who we called "Mom" among ourselves, would be appointed VP: look how well we worked together and how much we'd accomplished under her leadership! But, of course, "they" promoted one of their own.

As benefits coordinator, I shredded superseded policies and procedures, met with terminated employees to explain COBRA insurance and pension rollovers, and attended going away parties for coworkers who had been like family. The unemployment claims processed, I packed a cardboard box with photos, plants, cartoons, and a Manpower Inc. paperclip holder and scheduled my own appointment with the outplacement agency. Arms loaded, I walked to the elevator past the unmarked door to the morgue.

Fifteen years later, back in town for a reunion, my former assistant Karen and I ambled along hallways and up stairwells of what had become, in the reorganization, an outpatient rehab facility. On a Sunday afternoon it appeared empty, except for an invisible maintenance man whose radio echoed through the corridors. The cafeteria was in the same place, but the pharmacy, lab, OR, and birthing rooms were gone. A security guard sat at the previous emergency reception desk.

"This was admitting," Karen said. "Remember Maggie who drove the hippie van?"

I did. She'd had a wardrobe to match.

"And this was the mailroom. Did I tell you I found Joe on Facebook?"

"Ah, yes. Joe. He always had a joke. How about the year he dressed up as a nun for Halloween?"

Karen laughed. "A nun with a mustache!"

We took the elevator down. I stepped out and turned left.

"No, it's this way," Karen said. We walked past the prior morgue to the door of our old office. Making blinders of our hands, we peered through the window and tried to pick out familiar details from the blackness within.

Rockport, TX, a place where others come for vacation, is home to Kay Butzin. Reach her at

Twenty-eighth Flash

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