To keep myself from having a meltdown, I was wondering if I could get everyone’s advice about a work problem. I’m in danger of losing my severance and my sanity.

So, long story short, I was told I was being laid off (“displaced”) in November. Nothing to do with me, I’m a great employee, it was just lay off time and my number came up. Still makes no sense to me, but there you go. My final day was supposed to be in early January and I would leave with some severance and benefit assistance. All standard.

I did some internal interviewing during that time but with the holidays and everything nothing went too far. The internal hiring person I am working with asked me to ask my manager if they could extend me a bit while they see if I can finish interviewing and if I would get the job. I asked, the manager looked into it and initially told me “no”. An hour later, they rushed into my office and said they could, if I wanted to stick around for another 60 days and work on a special project that needed more hands. I said sure. I told HR about it, they put the extension through and I got updated severance paperwork. Now my final date, if those interviews go nowhere, is the end of February.

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Today my manager came into my office with “good news”. They wanted to know if I would take a position in another office. Unfortunately, it’s in an office I absolutely hate and a position I have absolutely zero interest in. If I move, I would be stuck there for 12 months until I could move internally again. It would be a lateral move, no pay raise. I explained how I wasn’t sure that was the right move for my career and it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing and that I was still waiting to hear back on my other interviews. My manager was visibly surprised and expressed how “disappointed” they were. Then they mentioned if I don’t take it, I could have my severance revoked.

So. Basically I’m having an existential crisis because I DO NOT want to do that job. I’d be going from the HQ of the company, a hustling and bustling building in a major city, to a small, podunk little office in the suburbs. The actual job is one I did four years ago and I feel it would be a step back for my career and derail where I want to go. I need to call HR tomorrow but I don’t see how they could take my severance away from me over this. I didn’t post for a position. I didn’t seek it out. There is no official offer letter. I really want to wait to see what happens with the other things I’m trying to do but this other office would want me ASAP to fill a gap they have. The manager of that office instant messaged me this afternoon, really upset about my refusal. I clarified that I didn’t refuse, I was considering all of my options and I made it clear I hadn’t said “no” yet. I was so taken aback by that manager’s attitude.

I have no idea what to do. I can NOT afford to lose this severance if my interviews go no where. It will suck to lose my job, but with severance and unemployment I could find another one. I want to continue with this company, but not in the role they want to shove me into. I know I’m being laid off and beggars can’t be choosers but I don’t see that as a reason to leap at the first thing someone brings to me, especially if it will completely and utterly wreck my career trajectory. What’s the point then?

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I don’t know, guys. I asked a few close work friends what they thought and most of them said this was insane. One or two think I’m crazy for not just “sucking it up” for a year and then trying to move internally but that office is where they put people out to pasture. I don’t think I’d get back to the HQ if I went out there. I’d be forgotten, my contacts and network would fall apart... God, I am sick over this.

Thoughts? I am really unsure where to go from here but it feels like my life is coming apart at the seams.