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Paulclem

Retiring Colleagues

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The ones coming to the end of their careers I mean. Not the quiet ones that we all have to watch.

Yes it was a funny day today Ė I wonít say weird as it didnít have any supernatural content, in the strictest sense of the word. It was funny watching the unfolding of a last day after watching the unfolding of the last six months.

It happened that my colleague, who sat opposite me all year, decided to take voluntary redundancy in order to enjoy her horse riding and all the things we dream of doing when we work full time.

A number of other colleagues were also retiring, or leaving this year, but today gave me occasion to reflect upon it all. I was completing an assessment to get on a course this morning, and then I rushed back to my office to take part in a rather muted tea and cakes lunch. Colleagues who had worked with the Lady who sat opposite me turned out for the do. Someone provided a tablecloth. We had scones, jam, cream, a cake and a spiced tea. It was all appropriately English.

The cake lunch ended. Co-workers drifted off over the afternoon on leave for the summer until finally my retiring colleague and I were left. It was strange watching 30 years work come to an end. She seemed to be finding things to do right up until 4.30, and I suppose I can understand the reluctance to end a phase that has been a great part of a life. It was something about the emptiness of the building, the muted light filtering through the clouds, the deflation one feels at the end of the last day before the holiday. The finality.

At last we exited the building, and it was a privilege to wave her off from the car park, though perhaps one of her more long standing colleagues should rightly have been there.

We all said the usual things like ďyouíll have to come and see us next yearĒ and we talked of the upcoming works dos that we will be having before Christmas. But you know how it is; the pervading feeling that things are irrevocably changed when colleagues leave that they must pick up and feel quietly left out.

It was rather poignant at the last managers meeting earlier in the week. All the usual stuff was discussed about the teaching programme next year. Then we came to the allocation of jobs for the forthcoming terms. I didnít look up, but I could feel a kind of forlorn realisation of the impending end of a career. Someone had nothing to prepare, nothing to bear in mind, no tasks to consider before September.

I canít begin to describe the feeling of taking part in it all. At least Iíve seen something of what awaits. Iíve still got 18 years until they kick me out though.

Updated 07-30-2011 at 03:49 AM by Paulclem

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  1. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    Lovely reflection. Sounds like you work with some nice people. Retirement is an ending and as you say, final. I always think about how people get up every morning to go to work every day, year after year. It is an amazing thing when you thinking about it in that way.
  2. The Comedian's Avatar
    jersea wrote of your post quite well Paul. I was particularly fond of your description of how you retiring colleague clocked in the usual shift. . . . and then suddenly out the door. It's strange how our working life is at once a life-giving pulse (both monetarily and spiritually), and in that so important and, at the same time, so irrelevant. . . . transient or transcendent? I'm not sure which.
  3. Virgil's Avatar
    Oh I know that feeling so well. It's so sad to see people you like leave. Plus retiring intertwines with our own sense of mortality to make such a bitter sweet feeling. You captured it well Paul. I enjoyed reading this.
  4. Paulclem's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jersea
    Lovely reflection. Sounds like you work with some nice people. Retirement is an ending and as you say, final. I always think about how people get up every morning to go to work every day, year after year. It is an amazing thing when you thinking about it in that way.
    Thanks Jersea - It struck me too
  5. Paulclem's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by The Comedian
    jersea wrote of your post quite well Paul. I was particularly fond of your description of how you retiring colleague clocked in the usual shift. . . . and then suddenly out the door. It's strange how our working life is at once a life-giving pulse (both monetarily and spiritually), and in that so important and, at the same time, so irrelevant. . . . transient or transcendent? I'm not sure which.
    Yes - I find it important. it gives a good structure. I noticed that lots of people ask "what are you going to do?" I think they miss of the "now" at the end.
  6. Paulclem's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil
    Oh I know that feeling so well. It's so sad to see people you like leave. Plus retiring intertwines with our own sense of mortality to make such a bitter sweet feeling. You captured it well Paul. I enjoyed reading this.
    Thanks Virgil. I've seen lots come and go too and you're right about the mortality feeling.