Five years, 7 months

I slid one final spiral notebook into my backpack and stared with a blank expression at the contents within. It was odd that after five years, seven months, six roles, and two IDs, the sum of my time at this company could fit into such a small container.

I threw the strap over my shoulder, made my way to the glass electronic doors and stopped. “One last sweep”, I told myself.

I walked to where my old team used to sit together. A year before, there had been 15 of us in various roles. Then 8, then 4, and now only 3 remained once I crossed the threshold. The empty seats had been an open wound this past year. A stark reminder that redundancy was somewhere around the corner.

I circled the whole floor, looking for anyone to say goodbye to me, to make these last few years mean something to anyone not me. But the faces were unfamiliar. When a hundred people or more work on the same floor together, they don’t tend to learn each other’s names unless they must.

Finally, I caught the eye of a familiar face and smiled. We hugged, though neither of us were the hugging type. And as I talked about the interviews I had lined up and how much I’d miss seeing them, another joined us. Soon there was a tiny group of people giving me goodbye hugs and a version of the same three words, “We’ll miss you,” and for a moment, I believed every single one of them. Truth was, the constant flow of redundancies had left everyone desensitized to this goodbye routine. It was simply another day at the office.

When the group had dispersed, I wiped the non-existent tears from my eyes and walked through the double elevator doors. The weight in my backpack lightened as I realized I was free from a life of constant uncertainty.

I stepped out into the city and let myself hope again.

4 thoughts on “Five years, 7 months

  1. Having been laid off several times, I felt this! I liked the line “The empty seats had been an open wound” – great image, it conveys the pain of these losses very effectively.


  2. I’m sorry you had to go through this time; hope things are looking up. ‘Truth was, the constant flow of redundancies had left everyone desensitized to this goodbye routine’ I agree with you absolutely here; my workplace had a similar high-impact shakeout,and yes, by the end of the process, the people leaving were an ordinary part of the day. I was out of commiserations and ‘good lucks’, yet felt a complete wretch for not summoning up more.


  3. I like the silver linings that shine through this post – I can imagine how the uncertainty of when someone will be made redundant won’t make working there easy! Despite never being in that situation before, I could picture and I was with you throughout the journey of the pain and the loss and yet, seeing the hope through some of it


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