Two weeks ago…
Yesterday I IM’d one of my co-workers with a question. He’s a very nice fellow who got dumped on during the last “downsizing”. That’s how it works, and unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well for him. After a short conversation, I thanked him for the help and he replies:
JS: I don’t know what I’d do without you
Me 9:47 AM: I appreciate that J! Glad I could help.
Now I’m really touched, and feeling needed. If you’re even half-awake, you learn a lot over 37 years. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t enjoyed being the artifact. I remember how valuable I thought people like that were when I was younger. Now they’re all gone, and so is all that knowledge. It makes me very sad knowing my co-worker will be swamped when I decide to go. I wish I could do something about it, but there’s really no solution.
If the company was smart, they’d be training younger folks who were thrown into these positions with no prior experience. But nobody seems to notice or make an effort. And besides, is there really such a thing as a smart company? I know there must be. What would it be like to work for one?
I’m very aware that I have a strong desire to be a team player. I often dislike this about myself, thinking that maybe I’m just a “pleaser”. Is that why I’m such a hard worker, because I’m always trying to gain acceptance, possibly stemming back to my childhood? Or is just in my DNA? Or both?
Yet, this is the role that I’ve lived most of my life. I seldom say no to a challenge or a request. I enjoy pulling my own weight and finding ways to help the team. If I’m working with other people, I want to be a contributor. However, most people I work with are stretched way too thin and are constantly behind. It’s a stressful environment when there’s not enough people to go around. I often feel that it’s a hopeless situation and that all I do is put out fires. It’s such a mixed bag. I’m always questioning why I’m doing this.
My wife and I sat out by the fire pit the other night as the sun began to set. We ate a nice dinner as we discussed my plans to leave. She is now becoming adamant that I quit by summer, so we can spend some time boating and camping like we used to. That’s what I really want to do, and she knows it. I begin to get a knot in my stomach thinking about leaving, just like I did when I first retired.
After so many years with the same company, I’d never had a reason to write a resignation letter. It’s the end of the line of my working career and I’ve got nobody to impress. I thanked them for hiring me, said I enjoyed it and stated that I have other opportunities.
I called my recruiter, but no answer. I left a message. By Friday morning he hadn’t returned my call. It was hard to keep focused with this unpleasant task weighing down on me. I called his number again and got his voicemail. I didn’t want to do it this way, but I wasn’t going to keep calling. I decided I’d leave a two-week notice message, letting him know a resignation letter was on its way to his e-mail.
Just before I began to speak, his name appeared on my phone. I swapped calls somewhat awkwardly, regretfully letting him know that I was leaving. Within a minute, the huge burden that had been sitting on my chest began to lift. I was about to become a retiree again. Freedom.
Yes, Ralph, I think I have. I thought about a conversation decades ago in a company file room. I had chatted with a co-worker who told me about the fulfilling life she created outside work to counterbalance the meaningless number-crunching routine she performed all day long. I’ll never forget that conversation and it had a great affect on me over the years. Yes, my job has been frustrating, empty and meaningless at times. But I’ve gained some skills and self-satisfaction from it, which I should be thankful for. Most importantly, we’ve built a life together outside work that brings us happiness. In the end, it was all worth it.
Always trying to think ahead, I’ve already begun buying materials for the fence and looking up boat parts. Less than two weeks to go, my life as a worker bee will come to a close. My wife is excited too, and she’s now researching flight and lodging deals to for us to visit Europe. Neither of us has ever crossed the Atlantic. I guess it’s about time.
I want the boat running by summer. I need to stain the house, build the fence, put in a yard sprinkling system, and the list goes on. I’m anxious to start getting things done around here again. I’m healthy, happy and I’ve worked hard my whole life. It’s time to start enjoying it again.