Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Job That Was

It ended without a bang or even a whimper. As I drove out of the parking lot expecting pomp and circumstance or some sort of recognition, I realized I was just any other car pulling out. But the difference was, I never ever had to come back.

Believe it or not, I came in today and actually did real work for a couple of hours before calling it quits. I briefed my staff on the status of what I left behind and then looked at the daunting check-list of places I had to visit before being cleared to leave. It was worse than the stations of the cross. Much worse because it dragged me all over this strange new building that is so hard to navigate.

I was to what I thought was the final stop when the woman said, “But did you ever have a security clearance?” I said probably because I used to travel for AID business. So it was back to another office only to learn my security clearance had been cancelled in 1993. Got the signature and that was it.

Back to the final woman again who issued me my “RETIRED” badge and marked me cleared to leave. My goal was to be out of there by 11:30.

It was 11:25 when I got back to my desk. A last check on my e-mail showed a message from my boss: “How long are you going to be here today?” I replied, “Five more minutes” and promptly walked out at 11:30. I’ll always wonder what she was planning to say to me.

The last day at such an important part of my life made me think back to other last days. In kindergarten we had a little graduation ceremony. In 6th grade we had a pool party. I hated junior high school too much to remember the last day. When I was a senior in high school, our class went on a bike ride on the last day of school. In college I probably skipped class and went to work in the bar where I had a second job to save money for my trip to Europe. In high school and college there was the cap and gown thing with a million rounds of pomp and circumstance as people paraded up to get their diplomas.

The difference between any of these other significant endings and today was that it was a group thing. It wasn’t like I was in the retiree class of 2007. I was quite on my own. I shook a few miscellaneous hands as I prepared to head out and then I simply left.

One person had stopped by to ask me an interesting question sometime during the morning: “What advice can you leave me with?” I quickly answered, “Don’t ever be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, what you know is right. Sometimes it means that you will have to leave a job.”

As I picked up speed on Suitland Parkway, I felt a black cloud lift. I was so happy that I had followed my own advice. I was thrilled to be beginning the rest of my life with no one to report to any longer.

The most asked question: “What are your plans?” My answer has become: “I’m going to turn off the alarm clock and learn how to be leisurely. That’s as far as I’ve gotten.”

19 Comments:

Blogger Ulysses said...

Ah, yes, turn off the alarm clock. That sounds good. I'm getting up at 5 on Friday, what time did you make it to?

12:00 AM  
Blogger media concepts said...

I love that you got the last laugh on your boss. If you were not retiring, I guess you would have headed to the next job. Either way, it's an exciting new step! But you'll have to find comparable blogging material elsewhere.

3:22 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Congratulations on a job well done. Your retirement will be all you make it - and after reading here for months, I suspect you'll make it something worthwhile.

7:03 AM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

Well, it's friday morning (7:09am) and I SUPPOSE you are still sleeping.

Good for you!!!! Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life (I know it's cheesy, but hey....)

7:10 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Ulysses -- 7 AM, but I must say it was so pleasant to lie there and say "Should I get up or roll over and go back to sleep?" I think this is a good start.

Matt -- Fortunately there's a big world out there that has no end of things to write about. My readers deserve a new topic or two. I do wonder what my boss thinks as she looks at my vacant office today...

Pauline -- I'm blowing you a chocolate kiss!

7:12 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gewels -- How did you sneak in here? Not cheesy and so true. Hope I can make the most of it!

7:13 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

(These comment post times are off by an hour.)

7:14 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

You can change the time stamp for your blog if you want to - and now you'll have time to do it. Bravo, Barbara - you are free! Take that job and shove it!

8:27 AM  
Blogger NYCD/aka Sue said...

Barbara...I am so jealous of you! Enjoy this new chapter of your life. I wish I could join you in retirement but at 43...I have a ways to go.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Bengal said...

Barbara, when I worked at the Pentagon, it was well-established that the best view of the place was in the rear-view mirror of your car as you drove away. We even had a photo of it that people got as a going-away gift. I'm sure it is ... it was ... the same at the Bureau of Bureaucracy! Congratulations on the first day of the rest of your life! Mazel tov!

11:34 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

After just half a day, I can tell that I am going to like this life. A leisurely (see I'm learning) breakfast with my coffee and Cheerios while I read the Post out on the deck on one of the most beautiful days of this Spring. The last few hours in unhurried cooking. Made empanadas, ratatouille, chicken wings in goopy sauce, and a vanilla flan. That's it for today! Maybe a nap or a walk or both... Love it!

2:12 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

(I'm still drooling over that last chocolate cake pic!)
Sure was a lot of red tape getting outta that place!

Okay, so you're getting the hang of it already, eh? You've cooked up a storm (man, David is going to be glad you retired!) You can have a 2nd cup of java and read some more, go for a bike ride and then do some gardening, nap, then play with your canines...it just goes on and on!

The best is yet to come! I'm so glad you have your life back!

7:01 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- Yes, me too!

9:59 PM  
Blogger avocadoinparadise said...

This is such a great post! Such a big transition! Thanks for sharing it with everybody.

It is weird that once we've graduated from everything there really doesn't seem to be any more big group recognition events like that. I suppose getting married and having kids involves a lot of that type of recognition for living activity, and then you get to do the graduation crap again with your kids. Life is just one big cycle isn't it. A treadmill.

But it's so great to read about your life now that you've gotten off the work treadmill. Know that a lot of us are really really looking forward to making it to the retirement stage of life. Even though there is a lot waiting to happen between here and there. It's fun to vicariously retire. :)

10:48 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Sounds like a good plan to me.

9:18 PM  
Blogger EJ Takes Life said...

Congratulations on handling a touigh situation with grace and dignity. And on all the exciting things that lie ahead!

10:30 AM  
Blogger webcowgirl said...

I recently gave notice at my job. Not sure where I am going to land next, but not worried about it either. It's weird being 30 and totally burned out. I'm looking forward to my last day! Thanks so much for sharing. I'd rather try and direct my life than be Director of X!

1:43 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Avocado -- I've already concluded that I much prefer pedaling a bicycle than running on the work treadmill. The scenery is better too!

Richard -- The beauty of it is that there really is no plan! That can be somewhat hard for someone like me, but you know, I think it's going to work out just fine.

EJ -- Thanks for the kudos! Life is indeed wonderful.

Webcowgirl -- Congratulations on your decision to take yourself out of a bad situation. Directing your own life sounds great!

5:13 PM  
Blogger The Lavatory Lady said...

Congratulations on your retirement!! Enjoy.

10:55 PM  

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