Today is an anniversary of sorts. This time last year, I was working my last day as an employee for a company I had given over thirty- four years of my life. I was four months shy of a thirty year stint after having taken a brief stroll around the greener pastures earlier on. But I digress.
The day began like any other work day. Up at 4AM, at work before 6. I had a preferred parking space and getting there early helped me in getting that spot. (Funny looking back now how I had allowed silly things so much importance.) At 6AM, the machines were fired up and the day began. I worked at a manufacturing plant that created novelty yarns. Some of which went to customers who made fabric for furniture, some went to craft stores for knitting or crochet projects. Over the course of years, the company had diversified in the hopes of one department staying active when others did not due to market changes. All of this was working fairly well, right up until the pandemic.
I will be up front and honest here. When all this began, I was one of those who thought it overblown and out of control. I swore they took the flu and morphed it into something more fearful and dangerous. I, along with everyone else, was watching life around us become very different. It was like watching that metaphorical train wreck in slow motion happening around us.
Business started to go down, fewer orders meant needing less people. The first round of lay offs happened. I watched as coworkers came back from the meeting, carrying that manila envelope, to get their belongings. If they had tools, they made arrangements to come pick them up later. As we watched this going on around us, we who remained were assured we were essential, we were safe. And, I bought that.
As days passed, we watched the strangeness grow. We were no longer required to clock in to work, (via a code number and fingerprint recognition) the managers would write us in. Only so many at a time were allowed into the break room to eat. We left fifteen minutes early so to be gone before the next shift came into the building. (I do still wonder how they would have handled the department I worked in as those machines at the time could not be simply stopped and restarted, it took a major process.) They had someone who pushed a cart through the plant disinfecting things. I watched this person, they pushed their cart through the plant and pretty much waved a cloth at things no one touched during the day. The things actually handled were ignored. Go figure. Still, I was working and that was what mattered. I was among the ones told, ‘you are essential, you will have your job.’
At the time, we were working four ten hour days, Monday through Thursday. Unless there were enough orders that more time was required. That time though, we were not and I was sitting here at home calmly enjoying my coffee when the call came. I was being laid off temporarily, come by the plant Monday for the paperwork. When I went in on Monday, I was told it was permanent, or up until work picked up, then they would call me back as if nothing had happened. I was dumbfounded and in a state of shock. What had happened? What about all of those times I had been told that I would be there as long as the plant operated? What about all those times I had been told I was important? What about being essential?
I walked out of the foyer, I wasn’t even allowed into the building, shell shocked.
Fast forward to now, one year in. I can finally say with a smile, I didn’t lose that job, God took me out of there. I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll probably mention it again, I was needed here for mom and dad. I live next door to them, I’m handy and can be there if needed quickly. I help them as I am able. Other things are left to the younger and stronger.
While I was working those ten hour days, some weeks were nearing if not sixty-plus hour weeks, I would be physically and mentally exhausted. I knew my job. I liked my job to a point, but it was slowly killing me even as it kept me active and mobile.
Now, life is moving a bit slower, with a time more mine. Being here may mean that I’m more on call for my parents, but even when I roll my eyes as I see them approaching for a ‘favor’ I know how blessed I am that they are still here. Even as I silently grumble at yet another interruption, I am thankful they are here to interrupt. If I were still working, I would be missing this time.
I was also here for other purposes and reasons. Things I discover as days pass by. Things that some times are less easy to get beyond but I will. I will because I know that there is something else waiting.
So today, is a celebration of sorts, a liberation day of sorts. A day when I can look back from a different viewpoint and perspective and with greater understanding. I walked out of a building in which I had spent so much of my life, understanding that loyalty means nothing and the bottom line means everything, into where I am now.
Happy with change.