At times, troubling events affect me like allergy shots–building my immunity over time to forestall more intense reactions from subsequent events. (“Been there, done that, let’s get on with life.”) At other times, the troubling events are more like an allergic reaction to bee stings, where my sensitivity actually increases over time from repeated exposures. Friday’s events surrounding the departure of my supervisor, the CIO, was more like a bad bee sting–and the swelling hasn’t yet gone down.

As I wrote yesterday, I hate being the bearer of bad news that I can’t communicate. Bearing the bad news until someone else (usually someone with more authority) lets it out is, very often, unbearable.

My discomfort with these announcements traces back to when I was an associate editor on a trade magazine for the hardware industry (that’s “hardware” as in nails and cordless screwdrivers, not computers or printers). The editor at that time was a well-connected figure in the industry, regularly invited to participate in seminars, roundtables and golf outings at conventions and conferences. When the long-time publisher of the trade magazine died, he was replaced by someone who didn’t care for the editor’s work ethic–so after some time, the new publisher decided to fire the editor.

The publisher decided that he would build support and relieve anxiety among the remaining magazine staff by gathering us together to break the news…before telling the editor (who was on vacation at the time). Build support? Relieve anxiety? Exactly the opposite occurred, as we left the meeting and had to figure out how to act when the editor got the news.

I remember feeling like a traitor the morning that the editor returned to work, try to interact with him as he cheerfully talked about his vacation, and asked me what was new around the office. “Oh nothing much, same old stuff.” I wanted to tell him that he was about to be fired, but I didn’t want to risk souring relations with the new publisher. I disliked them both about equally at that time.

Later that day, the editor, visibly upset, called us into his office. “I’ve been fired,” he said. “We know,” I said, in one of my moments of personal transparency and ultimate stupidity. “Y-you knew? And you didn’t tell me??”

Awkward silence. Repeated only a few times since, the latest being last Friday morning.

It still stings.