There is no good time to be told you are being made redundant.
February 2020 was really not a good time to be told that the site where you have worked for 20 years is going to be closing early in 2021. Four weeks later we were in a pandemic and within 6 weeks, the majority of staff at the site were furloughed. There was the inevitable delay effected by lockdowns, but now 17 months later, I am counting down the last few days until I finally step off site for the last time.
I returned to work from furlough in July last year, to a different site. There is now a one way system in place, so I have gotten used to walking further to get from one place to another than the actual distance between them. There are card slots on toilet doors to ensure no more than 2 people are ever inside at the same time, and tables in the canteen are set out like an exam hall where each person sits alone facing the front. This is not unique; few workplaces, if any, have been unchanged by the need to keep people at a safe distance from each other, and there are many faces I have not seen unmasked in months, though I have spoken regularly to their owners. It is a strange way to end my time at this place, with it so changed from how it has been.
I was ready to leave when they announced the site closure; I had known it was time to move on for a while, but not knowing what my next step should be I had procrastinated. It was a kick up the backside being told I needed to find the next step directly and not when I got round to it, but I am now happy that I am heading off along a different path.
So it has come as a bit of a surprise to me how sad I am. For all sorts of reasons really. Twenty years is a large chunk of my life. Since starting here I have got engaged, got married, had children, moved house, all to the consistent backdrop of the same workplace. Although plenty of people have come and gone in that time, there are many faces who have been a regular part of my work life for that time. I am grieving for the loss of those people, for the loss of the comfortable familiarity of the place, for the loss of a job that I know I can do.
The place has been winding down for a while now. As the workload has decreased and fixtures and fittings have been dismantled around us the sense of ending has grown. What was once a busy bustling place is grinding slowly to a halt. So although I am excited and hopeful, about what the future holds, today the joy is tempered by melancholy. As I sit here alone in my office I am inspired to write a poem.
We were warned
We had plenty of notice
Time to prepare
But did we?
Or did we put it on the back burner,
To be dealt with at a later date.
Denial and disbelief obscuring the need to make ready.
Now though, the truth is rushing headlong towards us and
the narrowness of the passage of time leaves no chance for escape.
As reality closes in I embrace nostalgia
Wrapping myself up in the comfort of the contemptuously familiar.
Change will come
What has been will cease to be
And I must move on
I wish to face the future with hope
With the excited joy of infinite possibility
But for now I stand on shaky ground,
unsure of where next to tread
Buffeted by waves of grief that ebb and flow
threatening one minute to overwhelm
Then receding to allow me once more to stand and face what lies before.
Time will find me away from here
I will thrive
And then I will reminisce
With a grateful smile.