‘Umm – crap. Well not crap, I’ll just be glad when the week’s over.’
‘Understand. Won’t be long now…’
‘No, and that’s the scary thing. Have I done the right thing? Have I been stupid? All the good-byes. Uhha, so unsettling! And I’m quite institutionalised you know. Something I hadn’t really realised.’
‘But think – you can let all that unfulfilled potential reach new heights. There’ll be no stopping you now.’
‘Huh – I wish I felt that. I feel as if I’ve had it. You know, put out to grass, arm chair and slipper brigade. Will I get any work? Or just be cast on the rubbish heap and left to moulder?’
‘You? Never! If I had half the knowledge and expertise you’ve got I’d be flaunting it – y’know, tight red satin dress, black fishnets and killer heels type flaunt – well…maybe not.’ I splutter as a crazy image struts through my mind ‘Seriously, I think you’ll surprise yourself. Now you can really unfurl those wings.’
‘It’s not a thought any more, it’s real, really leaving. All those years, twenty-three, working for the same organisation. It’s a long time.’ ‘Ok – ready to go?’
‘Yes, deep breath, last one.’
Do you remember I told you that Robert’s voluntary redundancy had eventually been accepted? Yesterday was Robert’s last official day at work. The past few weeks have been a continuous round of good-byes. Robert had a national job with colleagues flung far and wide and from many organisations. But yesterday he was saying goodbye to people he’s known and worked with for many years and who’ve been through many of the previous stages of Natural England’s metamorphosis. I was going along as chauffeur.
Driving into Exeter we reminisce about the good times, and the bad and the ugly; chat about surprise farewells from folk he thought had forgotten him and those newer acquaintances sad to see him go. It’s okay, we had a box of tissues!
Putting myself in Robert’s shoes I have a measure of what it must be like to chuck in the towel. The salary, the targets, the objectives, the structure, the organisation (in both sense of the word) all gone. Suddenly you’re swimming alone; will you sink or float? It’s up to you.
But there is the other side of the coin. Gone also is the constraint, the limitation, the bureaucracy, the red-tape, the pettiness and the frustration; in its place – freedom – not as predictable maybe, but exciting and full of possibilities.