Shortly over a year ago marked my last day of working for another company, and starting to work for myself. It was never intended to be my last day, I rose to the alarm and put myself together for another slog through the same retail horrors that I had spent nine years trudging though. The difference this day had would be the final straw on a very tired camel’s back.
Rewind to two months previous, a colleague of mine was leaving. His last day was upon us, and I invited him to coffee at lunch by way of saying goodbye. We all tell each other that we’ll stay in touch, we’ll be by for a chat, but that is rarely the case. Our lives go on, our needs and routines change, we make new friends, and the old ones are placed on a shelf we intend to get back to one day. A lifetime of farewells had taught me this, and though I indulged his protests to the contrary, I knew I may never see the man again. Coffee and a heartfelt goodbye would be preferable to the collusion of lies that is ‘see you around’.
This man was a higher ranked peon in the retail army; not a colonel, but someone privy to the closed-door conversations, and true understanding of how the ‘real world’ worked beneath the veneer of professionalism. His honesty with me over the years helped me to see the confusion between drinking the kool-aid and why things really happened. More importantly, it helped me to see my own foibles and personality triggers that kept me where I was; under the thumb of a faceless and mad god whose only demand was the draining of your soul – your will to leave.
We sat across from each other, snidely taking swipes at our employer. It is what one does; if you are the one leaving, you want enforcement for your decision to do so. If you are the one saying goodbye, you want for them that same reassurance, perhaps secretly wishing the roles were reversed. The hour was drawing to a close, and we took turns looking at our respective watches. Truly, he had little to worry about with it being his final day, his concern was for my continued employment.
He understood too well the backdoor politics, and real-world decisions that are made on little more than a bad morning. A life-altering choice for a person who just happened to be within eyesight when something bad went down was far from uncommon. As much as he wished me well, I could see the look of compassion in his face. Laying out what he felt were my finer qualities, he implored me to seek out something better. I agreed, silently saying to myself that one retail job was no different than another; what would be the point?
He would have a revelation for me, one that put me onto the path I am today.