Thursday, September 15, 2005


Leaving a job, even one I don't particularly like, feels strange. Everything is a last: last time I'll buy my regular lunch at the corner place, last time I'll say "hi" to the morning security guard, last time I'll hit "22" on the elevator panel. Today was weird - I said goodbye to most everybody at a team meeting in Manhattan in the morning, then went back to Brooklyn where there are only 3 of us left in the office. And one's on vacation. So I finished cleaning up files (hardcopy and electronic), packed up remaining stuff, and got ready to go. And felt, oddly, sad. Not sad to leave the job or even the company, although I will miss some of the people. But there's something inherently sad about ending something that is so much a part of my life even as it feels weird to be sad when leaving something I've been eager to leave since the spring.

Leaving my last job was very different. I'd been laid off, my job eliminated, so there wasn't any "hand-off" of responsibilities. I had the mark of death on me - colleagues don't know quite how to treat you in that circumstance, so they just avoid you. My boss was traveling a lot, so I spent most of the past two weeks surfing the internet, going to the gym, and writing short stories. I came in late, left early. On the second to last day, I left at about 4. I had already taken most of my belongings home, but had a few odds and ends in my bag, including a mini flashlight we'd given out at a conference. Thankfully, as will soon become apparent, nothing heavy.

I got on the subway and was breezing along back to Brooklyn when the train stopped. Lights went out. The usual humming you hear when trains are stopped in the tunnels disappeared. Faint emergency lights came on and the conductor's voice told us they were investigating a problem. We sat for maybe ten minutes and then he came back on and said we would evacuate the train because of a power failure. What we didn't know then was that it was a blackout, The Blackout of 2003. We were instructed to walk through the cars to the very first one, which luckily had just pulled into the station and whose first door opened onto the very end of the platform. The conductor stood there, waving a flashlight, offering a hand up. The platform was pitch dark - another MTA employee with a flashlight waved us toward a set of stairs. I remembered my little flashlight and took it out, giving some additional light to myself and those near me. As we went out, the station gradually grew brighter from the bits of sunlight peering down through the entrances, but it still was pretty dark. More luck - we were at Park Place, a stop just across from the Brooklyn Bridge, and so I was able to walk home pretty quickly and easily.

So my blackout story that starts with "I was on the subway when the lights went out!" is actually not as dramatic as it sounds.

But... I couldn't make it into the office the next day, Friday, which was supposed to be my last day, because the building was closed. (Power came on at my apt. early Friday morning, but not til later there.) So I had no official last day. It was fine - I'd already said goodbye to the people that mattered, and I'd avoided the awkwardness of saying goodbye to those that didn't. I couldn't bear the thought of having to stop in on Monday, so I went in on Sunday and left my corporate credit card, id, etc. on my boss's desk in an envelope.

Nothing quite as dramatic today.


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