On November 30th, I had already been awake for the better part of an hour before the alarm went off. As it’s a radio alarm I laid there listening to the announcer go thru a quick check off of the day’s top stories, listened to a brief synopsis of the weather and listened to a song or two before deciding it’s time to rise and shine. I knew this was the last time I would ever get out of bed for an employer again. I would have gotten up earlier, the excitement of the future has lately called me out of bed long before the alarm clock ever did. But today I knew this was my last day of employment, so I lounged for a bit.
This was my day to go in, make my rounds of saying goodbye to my fellow workers and friends, turn in my van and ride off into the sunset, so to speak. I slithered out of bed, sauntered over to the mirror and smiled. “This is it, you’ve put up with the crap of the last month and a half, and now you can move on.” I knew all those people I worked with, and a few I worked for, would miss me as much as I will miss them.
But it was time to move on. So I prepared myself for that last grand walk across the parking lot, badge up to the security pad, walking down the hall to the work room. I went through my morning routine, not really allowing the total significance of this event to soak in just yet, except I didn’t need the work clothes, the boots, or the lunch today. I jumped on the computer to find out my final paycheck included a half month’s extra pay, due to vacation and a few other extras. This day was already starting out in my favor. I arrived at work, it felt alien. I was no longer a part of this venue. I had no need or the energy to put up with a system that was broken, along with the accompanying so-called union. The one I had fought so hard to bring to validity, but in the end was an exercise in futility. So I walked into the office and chose a seat, my normal station had been taken up by my successor, actually a good friend of mine, as was everyone else in the room.
This was the office I would come to every morning to do my scheduling, check my building systems on the computer, and catch up with the previous day’s difficulties with my cohorts. Lately it had become a drag due to a supervisor who thought we were having too much fun, so everyone had been ordered out the door within 15 minutes of punch-in. Let alone the fact that time would be wasted if we had to go to another building, log into the computer to find out if a boiler was down or a unit wasn’t running, and then hustle over to another building. But here I was, on my last day. We threw out a few jokes, old guy jokes, mostly, but that was my modus operandi, give everyone a hard time, get the day started with a funny story. No one was immune, including our immediate boss. Everyone had jobs to do, and it was time for them to hit the road. So I wandered out to the parking lot, got in the ole work van and drove it over to the trash bin, I was ready to get at least my personal trash out of it.
And all my coworkers kept hanging around the van, making jokes, asking what I was planning on doing with all that spare time I was going to have. It was more of a final huddle than anything. They didn’t want to say goodbye any more than I wanted to say it. Finally they all left one by one, silent goodbyes. My immediate boss, the one I sat on roofs and debated the fate of the school district as well as the universe with, checked off all the district owned tools that were supposed to be in the van, sure enough 100% present and accounted for. The supervisor who was responsible for the new 15 minute morning shove out the door walked by and tried to enter the conversation, but neither one of us would recognize him. He was the instigator in my decision to retire early, as well as for 6 other employees that I had been witness to the same treatment over the years. I was proud of myself. I didn’t offer any acceptance or forgiveness of his behavior, didn’t offer a handshake as I would have with anyone from a complete stranger to my best friend.
And I didn’t unleash the same amount of hell he’d bestowed upon me for the last three months. I resisted the temptation to read him the riot act for destroying the career I hadn’t realized was such a burden until a month and a half ago. Maybe I should have thanked him for that rude awakening. I just didn’t acknowledge him. I was impressed with my immediate boss, he wouldn’t acknowledge the guy either. So the supervisor walked off. That was a win-win for me. I smiled inside, and patted myself on the back. I was ready to go. I stepped back in the building to say a couple more goodbyes and once again, although he wanted to make a joke, I would not acknowledge that supervisor. Another win! So I hopped in my truck and drove off. The feeling was euphoria, I had said goodbye to my friends, I didn’t offer any form of submission to my former supervisor and I didn’t allow anger to rule my actions or thoughts. I had truly moved on. I had a quick delivery to make to the middle school I had formerly worked at, so I headed over there.
I pulled up in front of the school, left the windows down about an inch to keep the truck from absorbing too much of that infamous Colorado sunshine, and went in. Got all kinds of farewells, delivered the package I had and left, only to discover someone had tossed a Kelloggs Rice Krispies Treat in the passenger side window. My day was piling on the winnings! I looked around but no one was in site. So at 10:15 on my last day of work, I was retired. I decided I deserved a bagel. No need to be anywhere in particular, so I headed for the bagel shop. As I walked in I remembered getting a gift card to that particular bagel shop going on 5 years past. And sure enough, there was $15 left on the card! Free bagels! My day was full of surprises! So I bought 6 of my favorites, Chocolate Chip, ate one and took the rest with me!
I arrived home, grabbed my second cup of coffee for the day and headed to the garage. I had inherited several woodworking saws from my father so I fired up one of those saws and started making sawdust. Not just any sawdust… The kind you make when you’re retired…!
What a day!!!
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