The Last Day

One of my main purposes of this blog is to keep an electronic diary for myself of important things that I want to remember. So, the following is to accomplish that goal.

Today was a good day. Actually, since the day I announced I was leaving it's been pretty good. After people got past the shock of my announcement, everyone seemed to be really focused on making sure my last days were good ones. Yes, there were still a lot of moments to confirm that I made the right decision, but at least I wasn't dreading going into work anymore. Granted, a large part of that was knowing I was on the way out and not trapped!

Last night after work I picked up some pre-made margarita drink, some note cards and also a framed picture/illustration. You see, the former owner of the company had brought in all of the office pictures, and then took the better ones with him when he left. Though that happened in February, the nails still remain in the gray walls, as well as some of the more ugly, uninspiring photos. One agenda item I've had during my final weeks is to convince the partners to spend some money on paint and new photos, and to get the staff involved in those decisions so it's not such a dreadful place, at least visually. So, I thought the framed illustration was a nice touch; it was classy and would go with almost any decor they choose to go with in the future. I wasn't 100% sure I would give it to the office as a gift, but it was in my car if I felt the moment was warranted.

Last night I started typing out copy for the note cards - one for each of the staff. By 10pm I was drained and called it a night, then started back up around 6am after a hot shower. I wanted what I said to be perfect, so once I had it down electronically I wrote it in the card. I tried to come up with one thing for each person that was special, unique and good about them, as well as thanking them for whatever. I finished around 7am, made sure I had my office keys and building entry key card (for early/late entry) to turn in, and headed out the door.

This morning was great. The partners were in a three hour meeting, which meant the rest of us played. Sandy, one of my favorite co-workers, gave me a gift bag with several items. Not wanting to get too emotional (and knowing some of her stuff may lead me there), she just had me open one item, a little book called "Funny Business: How Climbing the Ladder of Success Works in Real Life." She had then put little sticky tabs on several pages that reminded her of people we work with - it was hilarious! I then went around and showed a few other co-workers so they could have a good laugh, which I could because the partners were still in their meeting.

I then got all most of my work done, noticing that there was a lot of activity in the background. Figuring something was up I stayed at my desk. I then realized our accountant, who was not to be in today, was in the office. Yes, something was planned. One of the partners, the one I've worked the least with, surprised me with a necklace and matching earrings from Macy's. It was tasteful and silver, which are both positives. It was really unexpected as I never felt like we connected on any level.

I was then called into the conference room, where I was surprised with a candlelight room and Italian food that was brought in. There was pasta, breaded chicken parmesan, meatballs and salad. It was so good! They sang a couple of goodbye songs to be - "So long, farewell" and "For she's a jolly good fellow". I was given a card signed by all that had Gloria Esteban singing "Conga". I guess everyone was taking turns going into the hallway, or even into the bathrooms, to sign the card so I wouldn't hear! I was also given a $50 gift card to Carrabba's from the company, which I love.

Then the "Fab Five" as I call them (my favorite five in the office) gave me a gift they bought on their own, a glass and metal faucet sculpture. They wanted it to be unique, something I could have in my new office and be a conversation starter. They also thought since I was a good idea person it would remind me to keep the ideas "flowing". Another unexpected gesture. I of course then brought in the margaritas and presented them with the framed picture. I think they were a bit surprised, so it was nice to turn the tables. They decided to replace a "Teamwork" picture from Successories in the entryway and place the new picture there instead. I felt like I had accomplished a good dead for the day and was glad I had gotten it the night before.

In the afternoon I spent time looking at the accountants photos from France where she had recently visited her daughter, and taking care of those last few details. Around 2pm the goodbyes started - first the idiot partner, who hugged me goodbye and told me "I love you." Then the accountant, then another partner. Hugs were exchanged, and those early ones were easy. The hard ones to say goodbye to were saved for last.

Around 4:30 I broke out the rest of the margaritas and those of us left - my favorite boss and the Fab Five - sat around the conference room table and shared stories. I got out the note cards and started passing them out, telling people that they didn't need to open them now, just when they wanted to. 5pm hit and people started to go home.

First was Ray, the guy who brought me in and the person I worked with the most. He and I made a great team and, when left to our own devices, did some pretty awesome work. We had a great two hour lunch the other day and really got out what needed to be said. Only a few tears there, I was keeping it together...I knew I would see him again soon.

Then Nancy left...she was the person on the other side of my cube wall, and though we had our differences I will miss her humor. Whenever "the idiot" would do something stupid, once he was out of sight one of us would drop a Kleenex over the wall as a signal to say "Did you just hear that? How stupid was that!" She had great taste in music and a love of history, and she was definitely an entertainer. She was crying, which led to a few more tears.

Bill, the person who felt most threatened by me, the person who I sometimes felt held me back out of fear of him looking bad, left next. I think our strengths and skills are so similar that it often put us in a competitive situation, but that guy is smart and really cares about that company; he's been there longer than anyone else. He was the person to impress, and I guess I managed to accomplish that. He had read his note and had tears in his eyes...a rarity. A hug, a promise to keep in touch, then he was gone.

The four of us girls left then started to pack it up for the night. Here's the funny part...my work computer screen has been going "black" at random lately. Over the weekend I couldn't even use the thing. In the morning it was giving me the blue screen of death, and then after re-starting three times it finally started. The screen gave out again, but finally started working mid-morning. So I get back to my desk, ready to shut down the computer. I have a final e-mail from a strategic partner wishing me well. I respond, delete my response, close Outlook...and the screen goes black. Yes, the computer knew. I had that thing for all but five months of my time there, and I guess it decided it won't work for anyone else but me. I sent an e-mail to Bill (who does the IT) and let him know. I know he'll find it ironic/funny as well. That was my last company e-mail.

I said goodbye to Mary, a partner, first. She was closest to my cube and furthest from the door, so it made sense. Mary is the smart one of the group, and she's a leader. The problem is that she doesn't have enough confidence so she let's the other two get their way too often, to the detriment of the company. She broke down crying and gave me a big hug, and that's when I cracked. No more tears in the eyes, I was crying now, too. We're getting together for drinks downtown in two weeks, so we both pulled it together quickly and told each other we would see each other soon.

I grabbed my final possessions; I was happy I had brought all of my personal stuff from my desk/shelves home already, as my hands were full with the gifts. Two people were left - Sandy and Donna.

I went to Donna first, and we both broke down. She's a strong, stubborn, upfront person who speaks her mind, which often works against her. However, she always has people's best interests at heart. She has been very supportive of my decision and is truly happy for me, though I know she will miss the support I provided her. I think I was one of the few people in the office who could work productively with her, so I'm sure that will make things a little difficult. I know I'll see her again, too.

Donna and Sandy both walked me out to the parking lot. Sandy, who is the most emotional in the office, kept it together for the most part. She said she couldn't say goodbye, but that she would see me later. I told her to continue the "cube" traditions even after I was gone (including the Kleenex), and that I would miss her. Gave Donna another hug, we got in our cars and that was that. I was gone.

On the way home I spoke with my parents, and despite the sadness of saying goodbye to several people I care about, it was actually an upbeat conversation. The goodbyes are over, now it's time to move forward. And I have a busy three days ahead of me!

When I got home I opened the rest of Sandy's gifts, which included a little glass dish for trinkets and such, and a picture frame. Her card was so touching - in addition to her beautiful message, she wrote the words she thought described me:

  • Good teacher
  • Creative
  • Caring
  • Kind
  • Patient
  • Helpful
  • Hardworking
  • Dependable
  • Loyal
In her mind, those are the things I will be known for; that is my legacy there. I know I'm far from perfect, but to see those words written down by someone whose opinion I respect, really hit me hard. I'm glad I was able to bring those things to the company and to the people who work there. I'll work hard to bring those same traits to the next place as well.

To end the day, it's fitting to say that I opened up my personal e-mail and found an e-mail from Sandy with a photo of the Fab 5. I guess Sandy had put the camera on a bookshelf, set the timer, and they took a picture to put in the frame for me to remember them by. They were the ones in the trenches with me for 3 years, 8 months and a day, and I will really miss them.

It's not a goodbye or the end...it's just a new chapter. And that begins now.

1 comment:

Chrissy said...

That was a very touching and emotional recant of the day - thanks for sharing, and best of luck to you as you pursue your next adventure!