Sunday, December 1, 2019

Standing at a Crossroads, Thinking...

So, welcome to December, 2019.

I'm so sorry I haven't written lately. I have been busy preparing for my retirement from my civil service job. One thing after another, after another, after another.

This past Wednesday, I had my farewell party thingy at work. It started at 2. People feted me. Since I was always buying cookies from folks whose kids were selling them, I was referred to as the cookie monster. This meant that rather than purchase and/or make me a cake, they purchased and/or made me cookies. So many cookies I have only ever seen at one time in a bakery. We are still eating them. The home-made shortbreads are divine. They're all good. They also gave me a gift card from Staples, which is my favourite store in the entire world. I used a chunk of it to buy a new solid state hard drive on Black Friday.

I spoke a few words at my farewell party. I mentioned why I went into my field in the first place. I will tell that story here, I think for the first time. In my senior year of high school our guidance councilor played a cassette tape in a class one day that spelled out some up-and-coming fields of endeavour, what those jobs would entail, and what kinds of skills would be required to carry out a job in that field. There was if I recall correctly some written documentation as well. One note said that you wouldn't have to carry anything weighing more than 10 pounds. I was sold!

My father had laboured as a carpenter for decades. I saw how hard he had to work every day, lugging shingles up a ladder, or schlepping wood from one place to another. If I could have a job where I didn't have to carry more than 10 pounds at a time, then I would be made in the shade. So, I went into that field! I am not sure to this day if my father ever thought I put in a day's work in my life.

On Thursday and Friday I left cookies in the kitchen. People descended on them like locusts.

On Thursday, my manager arranged for my immediate team to go to lunch. One member was sick. Another person had surgery. Another person had an appointment. So we were down to six souls, including mine. I was gifted a new watch. I have been wearing my father's watch since he died in 2010. As I told you before, I have replaced nearly everything on that watch over the years: multiple batteries, a new strap, inner workings. It is arguable whether it is my father's watch any more. Perhaps it is time to wear this new watch...

Also on Thursday I said a professional goodbye to my co-worker for the last several years. We got along quite well. I told him I would miss working with him and he said we had had some fun. Which we had. I had so many laughs courtesy of him. I will cherish our time together as long as I live. I hope we can keep in touch.

And, finally, Friday came. I did some actual work, I'll have you know, and continued throwing stuff from my desk all morning. A co-worker took me to coffee around 10. At lunch time I went to Patricia's own farewell party at her work. Afterward, we returned to my work. My manager excused me around 3:15. Patricia and I walked around the second floor of our building where I made my goodbyes and final handshakes and hugs. Then, we left. Our first night of this new freedom? We slept the night away.

My manager and I met a few times in the last days I was there. He gave some good advice, which was to let the negative thoughts I may or may not have harbored toward the place, wash away from me, and look forward to new adventures. If I hold on to these negative feelings, assuming they exist, then that accomplishes nothing.

He was, of course, correct. However, some niggling, errant thoughts ricochet around my brain, though. I can't help it. They just do. I think that part of the process of letting them go is to consider them just a bit longer, and to determine to my satisfaction just why they have resonated with me. Let's do that for a moment.

The common theme with them is trust. Broken. Shattered. Misplaced. Inappropriate. People who have lied to my face about how if I do this, it can yield to a promotion, so I did them, and it had no effect whatsoever. I hate when people lie to me.

The time a family friend, also a manager, lambasted me for my attitude. He told me that my university degree was just a "stepping stone" and no guarantee of success in the civil service, even though he had the very type of degree I did, and made sure everyone knew it. A few years later, he suggested I return to university and... get another degree. I was flummoxed. He led me on for years, with his lies, and false hope, simultaneously pumping me for information about people we both knew who had applied for jobs he would be responsible for filling. I finally grew tired of them, and him, and have not spoken with him in more than 15 years. Peaceful years.

The time a guy threatened to plant marijuana cigarettes in my desk and call the police. He remains one of the few people whose name sparks a visceral response from me, more than 20 years after we stopped working together. I hated that man, just hated him. God, I hated him. I have a list I keep in my head containing names of people I will not work with again, no matter what. His is one of two names on that list. Further, affiant sayeth  naught.

The time I asked a co-worker to inform Patricia about something. An hour later I had a special meeting with my manager. 25 years later, I still don't know what the hell I did wrong to warrant that meeting, and to have to endure the implied threats raised during that meeting. I have never forgiven that woman who did that to me. I saw her earlier this year at a co-worker's retirement party. She hugged me and I did not like it.

The times I took sick days and was raked over the coals for taking sick days, so I reverted to dragging my sick arse in to work on days when I should have stayed home. Which is what an awful lot of civil servants do, by the way.

The time I was told I would get... let's call it a special promotion at work if I agreed to take on a certain task. When I agreed to take on that certain task, the special promotion was snatched away from me, like an ice cream sandwich at the beach, and I had to do that certain task anyway. I stopped trusting the man who made that promise, right then and there. Someone I have known for a very long time. I hope he thinks his broken promise was worth it.

I suffered other indignities over the years, all in pursuit of a pay cheque and this pension I will start collecting in January.

Was it worth it? All this felgercarb? Sigh. I like to think it was. It is what I keep telling myself. It is what keeps me sane. Because if it truly wasn't worth it, then I will have wasted the last 26 years of my life. And that thought terrifies me.

But, you know what? Tomorrow is another day. I look forward to seeing what it will bring.

I really will try harder to keep this here blog up and running more often than I have been lately. I feel badly about that.

See you... tomorrow?

Bevboy