As of today, I have begun trialling a new system with my employers at my office job, wherein I will cease to come in to work, ever, and in exchange they will no longer pay me a salary. It sounds risky, but I will be left with a lot more time, and they will be saving a meagre amount of money, so it’s almost win/win. In the four years I’ve been there, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before.
My send off on my last day was characteristic of the impact I had on the company, which is to say, small. And your send off is quite a good measure of how you’re perceived by your colleagues – some high level employees get to leave with the fanfare suggestive of a beloved head of state stepping down from office, with bittersweet, modest tears flowing as they reminisce on how far they’ve come since their humble beginnings. They recite anecdotes demonstrating the growth of the company under their stewardship (different carpet) or demonstrating that underneath the pay rises and loss of humour, they’re still the same old lovable fool they always were (same haircut).
And then there’s the less graceful exit I’ve managed to avoid; the easy sacking of the perpetual probation-dweller, who slips up one day and fully falls asleep at their desk, as a YouTube playlist entitled ‘Classic Vines That Give Me Life’ reflects off their drool-drenched keyboard, and one twitch of their head plucks the headphones from the computer. They jolt awake, and heads whip round, to the sound of a screaming goat video that echoes all the way to the ‘healthy’ vending machine. They are marched out of the office by someone only one rung above them in the company hierarchy, who hastens them out with smugness, excited to finally exercise power over literally anyone else in the office. The employee speaks only a few words of protest on their way out, while the rest of the office is hushed, heeding the warning to wait until you’ve passed your probation before you start seriously taking the piss.
I got well past that point fortunately. And even then the depths of my piss taking only reached to submitting the real name of the Green River Killer as a colleague I felt deserved recognition.
But my last day ended with a whimper rather than a bang. A card from people on my team, including messages and signatures from people I have surely never met. I’ve cultivated quite the skill for not signing leaving cards for people I don’t know. A simple ‘Who?” and a blank look is really all you need. But you can feel the social pressure dripping from these messages, forced to participate like a teenager in a family photo. I imagine them constantly flipping to the front of the card making sure it’s not for some other event they would equally not care about, like a birthday or bereavement. I should clarify, I am complaining about having too many signatures in the card. I understand people wanting to make me feel more popular, but I’m well aware of the choice I made to be a sullen and unapproachable dullard at my job. My body sleeps at night, but my charisma slept between 8am and 2:30pm Monday to Friday. I understand that it’s a charitable impulse, to trick me into thinking I was more liked than I was, but it just feels like copy and pasting with minor differences to pad out the empty space, like doing CGI work on a huge crowd scene in a movie.
I did at least get a gift from my boss. It was a book, called (I’m not making this up) Get Your Shit Together. Part of the newly popular trend of self-help books having sweary titles to prove that, hey, this isn’t your grandaddy’s self-help. This one’s a stone cold badass who does their own tattoos and steals bikes from bigger boys.
I’m sure the book was not given as a passive aggressive slight, suggesting that me leaving the job was somehow indicative of my shit falling apart. Totally sure.
My current plan is to write shit like this, and act in the background of various movies and TV shows. At least if I leave that job, I’ll be working with actors, so hopefully their goodbyes can be delivered a little more convincingly.
Next time on the bandwagon, the forgotten war on E numbers.