Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Untold Riches

Chocolate is good. That's all I have right now, people. I just ate the last chocolate truffle from the Harry and David "Tower of Treats" that I got on my last day at work. That was a strange day. I wasn't emotional at all, possibly because I'd cried like an idiot the night before. No one else was emotional either. There was a combination of relief, resignation, and elation, combined with just weirdness. Boxes everywhere, file cabinets taped up and ready to be carried off on pallets, empty desks, and a big stack of "Towers of Treats". My job was in Human Resources. I think a few of you know that. Specifically, I was the recruiter. What this means is that I was extremely busy, until the merger put an end to new hiring. Then, I had nearly nothing to do. Nothing, that is, except to resolve disputes and serve as the ad hoc complaints and investigations department. This had been part of my job before the merger too, and strangely, it was a much smaller part of my job with three times as many employees than it was after the merger. People who are anxious about impending unemployment and who find themselves with a dramatically reduced workload find new and interesting ways to either create trouble, or to complain about the trouble-makers. I wish I could write about specifics, because some of it was insanely funny, but I'm still bound by a nondisclosure agreement.

So, the only thing I needed to do on our last day, having already conducted the exit interviews, was to collect the general releases upon which our severance payments were contingent. Everyone signed, including me. In that regard, none of us really had anything to complain about. The few of us who remained received severance and retention bonuses, and the parent company was generous. I have no complaints, except for the fact that we completely accept the idea that a large multinational corporation has the right to buy all prospective competition in order to strengthen its already formidable near-monopoly. But this isn't a rant against the man; not today, anyway. We handed out Towers of Treats, which were very well received, and then our site manager asked me to spread the word that the supply closet was open and that we were all free to take what we wanted. I love office supplies, and I thought everyone else did, too, but this wasn't as big an event as I'd have expected. I waited, wanting to be fair to everyone else, since I'd been told first, and when I got to the closet, it was still full. It was better than gift with purchase day at the Clinique counter. My children were thrilled; I gave them each notebooks, highlighters, post-it notes, and their own rolls of tape. It might surprise you to know how much tape small children use. My 7 year old, in particular, uses an astonishing amount of tape. The 4 year old has been wrapping presents lately. He finds a box, asks "hey, where' s my office supply tape?" and minutes later, hands one of us an extremely securely-wrapped box of Tinkertoys, Legos, or pieces from the Spongebob edition of the game of Life.

Weighed down with a Tower of Treats, a tote bag full of office supplies, another one full of tea and first aid supplies (those cabinets were also opened to the pillaging hordes), some Christmas presents, and the few remaining personal items I still had, I left the building at 2:00. I'd already said goodbye to everyone, so I said goodbye to people I saw on the way out, but I didn't look for anyone. It was over and it was time to go.

We've always been closed for the week between Christmas and New Years, so this doesn't really seem weird yet. My severance payments were deposited today, and it looks like a lot of money when it's in your checking account all at one time. It will allow me to take the summer off, so I'm happy about that. Next week is when this will seem real. I have a to-do list. I have to apply for unemployment, get my resume in order (wouldn't you think I'd have done this by now? I wrote and revised resumes for 20 or more of my coworkers, and didn't even bother with mine. Maybe it isn't just a river in Egypt), register for a class, attend an outplacement session (part of the severance package. How much does anyone want to bet that they'll tell me to use my resume as a branding tool?), and generally prepare to find some kind of work. I don't like being the new girl. I'm the person everyone comes to, the person who always has an answer for everyone's question, and the new girl can't be that person. Time to adjust. Time to buck up, baby.

I'll be away from the blog for a few days; we're going to Philadelphia to visit my family. Right now, I need to put frozen soft pretzels in the toaster oven for my children. They had friends over to play today, and they talked me into making more oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, so they really can't believe that I didn't shoot them down on the soft pretzels (btw, in Philadelphia, we just call them "pretzels"). They're doing their own version of their father's happy dance, which involves a lot of gyrating, "uh-huhs", and slapping of their own bottoms. I can't keep them waiting. Happy New Year!


Mathman6293 said...

I stopped reading after the first sentence. It was good.

themom said...

The end of a chapter I guess. I'm the type of person who can spend 3 hours in an Office supply store (Staples, Off. Max, etc.) My office wants for nothing! Have a safe trip!

Suze said...

Yeah, that kind of stinks to leave one place and be the "newbie" at the next one.

A WAWA opened up down here and the first thing I bought? Pretzels.

dguzman said...

Oh man, I would've been like Daffy Duck in that office supply closet, "Mine, all mine! I'm a happy miser!" I digz the office supplies.

Funny how anti-climactic it all was on your last day, but I'm sure there was a fair amount of shell-shock still going on.

Stephanie said...

Did you get to conduct your own exit interview? What a bizarre situation: conducting exit interviews for everyone who lost jobs when you, too, lost your job.

I LOVE OFFICE SUPPLIES! And the tape thing cracked me up, as my 7yo is obsessed with "sticky tape" right now.

Matty Boy said...

Office supplies are great. When I was a kid, a company that gave away free t-shirts seemed like the height of coolness, but as I grew older, a liberal office supply policy became a much clearer sign of respect for the workers.

A lot of my blog buddies are starting to go through transitions at work. It sounds like yours isn't dire now, and of course all of us are rooting for you. Best of luck finding a good gig.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Happy new year to you, your husband, and to your booty slapping boys!

themom said...

Happy New Year!!

susan said...

I hope the coming year is full of delightful surprises and that you'll continue to keep us posted. All the best for 2009.

DCup said...

I hope you're enjoying your trip to Philly. I wanted to wish you very happy new year.

I think you're going to adjust to all the changes with your usual grace and humor.

And yes, please, whatever you do. Blog about it.

FranIAm said...

"I don't like being the new girl. I'm the person everyone comes to, the person who always has an answer for everyone's question, and the new girl can't be that person."

I hear you my sister, but now I am the very new girl.

I have had you on my mind a lot these days but have really been off of blogging... Then I came and found this.

Hope Philly is good and I wish you a happy new year. I was where you were last year. You know how to reach me, if I can be of any help.

BTW, I would love to hear what outplacement firm you have. I had one and then they went to a lot of bother to train me to consult for them and then... That's another story.

You will be fine, it just feels weird and it is weird.

Very weird.

But cool.

liss n kids said...

I was reading your blog last night and was about to comment. I'm pretty sure I had something ingenious to say, really. But then Monkey walked up to me with a book that was in pieces, and he said, "TAPE! TAPE! TAPE!"

Tape fixes everything!

Utah Savage said...

Did you say chocolate? I'm craving fudge now, thanks a lot.

Sorry for the upheaval. I'm so glad I don't have a job to lose. That's the only good thing I can say about being disabled and old. And I have time to make fudge, if I have the ingredients.

BeckEye said...

I guess everyone else was salivating over the Towers of Treats, but I didn't bust a figurative nut until you mentioned soft pretzels.

pistols at dawn said...

I don't care what you or the official investigation say, Connie in Accounting was trying to use company time and resources to stage a Swiss Guard-centered coup at the Vatican.

I hope you told her to put that on her resume.

And I like chocolate, but don't want Harry and David, because as a straight man, I fear two grown men in such close proximity and partnership.

CDP said...

Mathman--it was, wasn't it?

themom--I love stationery stores, almost as much as bookstores.

Suze--I'm SO jealous that you got a Wawa. We need one, bad.

dguzman--yes, it was great. Shellshock is setting in now; I don't have a job to go back to tomorrow!


Stephanie--I just printed my paperwork, signed it, and sent it off to the corporate office! That was the extent of my exit interview.

Susan--thank you!

Dr. Monkey--you too!

Dcup/Lisa--I will, and I can't wait to see what you do at your new joint.

Fran--I'll email you; I'd love to hear about your experience.

Liss--it does, doesn't it?

Utah--did you make the fudge? That's the one thing I didn't make/have this Christmas

Beck--I definitely prefer pretzels to Towers of Treats!

Pistols--she succeeded; that's why Benedict XVI was wearing a Tyrolean hat and lederhosen during his Christmas blessing. It was most unseemly.

enc said...

You won't be the new girl for long after you get your new job. Everyone will figure out how great you are and begin coming to you for things right away, and it'll feel like old times.

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