There’s always a sense of unreality when long-awaited plans start coming to fruition. For me, it started in late March when I flew to Orlando to look at houses. As I inspected various properties with a young well-dressed realtor in anxious tow, it hit me–holy shit, we’re actually doing this. I thought it again as we electronically signed the contract to purchase our new home, and again when we closed in early May, our current home already in the disarray that an impending move creates.
The training in Pennsylvania was progressing, and in our department the duties began disappearing roughly around the time I’d returned from Orlando. The ever-possessive barge sailors, depending on their general life outlook, either fretted or gloated that the noobs “weren’t doing things right.” And still the belief existed that if the noobs fucked up enough, particularly if it was on a major customer and there was a big financial bleed, Ginormocorp would realize the error of its ways and rescind the layoff. Even as the barge began to upend and the sailors had to scramble to find handholds, it still bobbed on the River Denial.
Others, though, realized the core truth that had always existed–that Ginormocorp couldn’t care less. What it would be paying out to us in severance and retention bonuses was the proverbial drop in the bucket. It had bought Countrycorp and hoped it would be profitable, but would have no problem getting rid of it if it got to be too big of a burden. Welcome to corporate America, enjoy your stay.
My last day at Ginormocorp was surprisingly bittersweet for me. Fourteen years is a long time to be anyplace these days, and as I walked through the building to say goodbye to people, not only did holy shit, this is really happening hit me again, but also wow, I know a lot of people here. There were hugs and a lot of laughs, but something else came through–apprehension. Younger people confided that they’d begun job searches, while older ones were looking harder at retirement. Since the dowdy old building was now surrounded by sleek and trendy loft apartments, rumors were rampant that Ginormocorp would eventually want to get a piece of the sweet Richmond real estate boom and sell. With the reduced personnel, rent would be a lot cheaper out in the suburbs anyway.
I had come in the previous Saturday to clean out my cube so I wouldn’t have to walk out the door loaded down with stuff. When the time came, I put on my Ray Bans and called “Goodbye, (department name)!”
“Goodbye, Mandalay, we’ll miss you!” a few called back.
It was all I could do to walk sedately next to my manager to the front door, where I handed over my Badge of Servitude™, exchanged a hug, and left.
I saved the screams of glee and the middle finger towards the building for when I was safely in my car.
At long last–freedom.