#364 Last Day at Work

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A month ago I quit. Well, gave my notice at least. Of course that was a difficult decision. One of the most difficult of my life. But that whole time after you’ve given notice, you feel as though you can back out at any time. Sorry boss! It was just a bluff to get more money out of you! Clearly you’re not blinking so can I keep working here?

Giving notice so early allows you ample time to regret your decision. But I never did. Not even for a minute. Sure I worried about it. Had moments of sheer panic. Lying awake in the middle of the night, figuring out which possessions I could sell and how much time that would buy me based on my budget. But regret? None. Nothing has felt so right.

This week leading up till today, it still didn’t feel real. I packed up most of my things yesterday. I had plenty of boxes from the numerous Amazon shipments I’d had delivered to work. I defrosted my refrigerator whose freezer resembled the iceberg that sank Leo and Kate in the Titanic. But it still didn’t hit me.

Today, my last day at work, it finally started to sink in. It was the little things. People in my department running around, doing what they normally do but never talking to me about it. It wasn’t, Greg we need this and this and this. It was, Craig, we need this and this and this. It wasn’t that they’d forgotten my name suddenly. Craig was the freelancer who was taking over much of my workload.

While I was so weary and tired of my work, I found it hard to let go. I felt a reflex reaction to try and get projects done. But my project manager didn’t even ask me to do anything. What was the point? I had my exit interview in 6 hours.

It was cleaning out my computer. Really cleaning out. I’ve never seen my desktop so clean except when I first started. All of my personal files, gone. The funny images I sent to my coworkers. My music. Photos. Everything. My computer was now as sterile as a mule.

My coworkers took me out to lunch. It was a smaller group because there were a bunch of fires to put out at work. It suited me just fine. I hate big groups of people. Nate and Andrzej didn’t think they were going to make it but they showed up in time which made me really happy.

Then I went back to the office and started writing my goodbye email. My first version was very short. A few sentences and that’s it. I didn’t want to get too personal. But that would’ve been what the old Greg would do. The new, SYED-improved Greg wrote something a little more meaningful. I tried to make it funny but sincere.

I planned to slip out to my exit interview and then go home. Bypassing any sort of goodbyes. I would see most of the coworkers I was closest to at my party tomorrow anyway. (A funny side note about that is I miscalculated the last day of the blog. I thought it was Sunday. I was having the party on Saturday just to make it easier for people to attend. But I forgot about leap year. So the extra day means #365 is really tomorrow!)

But again, that would be the old Greg. Avoid any tough, emotional situation. SYED Greg decided to come back after the exit interview and make an effort to say goodbye to everyone.

So I started at one end of the office and worked my way down. The first person I said goodbye to was one of the coworkers I was friends with. And I was surprised at how sad I was. We didn’t really say anything and hugged. I was kind of speechless afterwards but managed to say goodbye to a couple of other coworkers who were standing nearby.

I made my way to Nate and Andrzej. It was a brief goodbye. Partly because I know I’ll see them fairly often even though we don’t work together. But partly because it was pretty sad because we had become so close. And no matter how often we did see each other, it wouldn’t be the same.

I was surprised at how hard it was. I guess you can’t work with people 40 hours a week for 4 years and not feel an emotional attachment to them. Even with all the disagreements and fights you may have. Coworkers are like your family. You don’t choose them and you’re forced to have relationships with them. And in the end, it hurts to say goodbye to them.

As I walked to my car, I thought about how glad I was that I did that. Made an effort to say goodbye to everyone. It just shows how much I’ve changed in the last year. It’s so easy and safe to isolate from people, but so lonely too.

When I drove out of the parking lot and down the street to the freeway, I looked back in my rearview mirror. I saw the office disappearing in the distance. Then I realized I wasn’t just driving away from a phase of my life, I was driving towards a new one.

3 Comments to “#364 Last Day at Work”

  1. Jason 3 March 2012 at 3:04 pm #

    very happy that you’re moving on. You’re a good dude. That wasn’t the place for the rest of your career.

    Cheers!
    -Jason

  2. Linda 7 March 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    I just wanted to let you know, that this is exactly how I felt when I left my job. I was actually fired, for stupid reasons, but I was eventually going to quit anyways. Maybe that’s why I got fired. I got tired of going to work and I had my attitude and acted lazy to get rid of that horrible place. But when people got so worried about me being gone and not having a job, I told them that it felt right. It was the best moment to get away and move on. This post sums up everything about how I felt when I left. There was no panicking, no worries and definitely no regrets. The people we work with will definitely be missed, but it’s the decisions in your life that you have to pay attention to and not worry about the people. Plus there’s always the possibility of meeting them outside of work. You are inspirational and after everything that you’ve done, you don’t need a job like this to keep you down. Keep at it and I hope we hear more from you in the future. You’re a wonderful writer.

    • Greg 7 March 2012 at 11:19 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words. So much value is placed on what we do for work in this country. It makes choosing the “right” job versus the best paying job so difficult. I hope your decision turned out to the right one. It sounds like it was.