No morning tea please

After making the big decision to retire, I had to formally submit my resignation through our online HR portal. This triggered what is known as a “termination process” also known as “offboarding”.

The language made me feel quite ill and a little bit anxious. I’ve been working at the organisation for 14 years, so to end my career in this impersonal way felt a bit sad and confirmed my view that working for a large government department turns you into little more than a number, fodder for the machine.

I emailed my manager to let him know that I was submitting the form and he emailed me back the offboarding checklist. This is to ensure that you settle all your accounts and hand back any equipment that’s been issued over the years. He also rang to say that he would miss me, which was nice. I specifically requested that there be no fuss as I just wanted to walk away quietly.

I’ve always hated those corporate morning teas that are usually held when someone leaves. I dislike the people who only turn up for the free sponge cake and the ubiquitous cheese and crackers. I hate those speeches where the top brass talks mainly about themselves or tells embarrassing stories about the poor person who is leaving.

I hate the bit where the person says that they won’t miss the work, but they’ll miss the people. I know that for most people this is true, but I will genuinely miss the work and the people.

I will miss laughing with my team-mates, helping people solve problems, and moaning about senior staff who send you long rambling emails but don’t ever say what they actually want you to do.

I’ll miss people shouting across the room to ask me how to spell accommodation and other tricky words.

When I went in yesterday to return my laptop and security pass, I was still a bit surprised at how upset I was. There were only about four people in the office and the place was a wasteland of blank screens and empty chairs. I handed over my computer and the admin person said weakly, “we should have bought a cake”.

I wandered off down the corridor and came across a lovely colleague that I’ve known for years. She could see that I was upset so she gave me a hug (verboten).  She told me that I would be missed and that I’d had a big impact on the organisation.

It was nice after all.

13 thoughts on “No morning tea please

  1. Margaret, I was really taken with this post and how well you describe what happened and your feelings. I have many thoughts about your new phase in life which I’ll try to write in a letter – but I know you are going to enjoy yourself and you’re going to do some amazing things, even if you don’t know what they are yet! Congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing this.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments. I often feel a bit nervous about sharing my thoughts because they seem very inwardly focussed and may seem as if I’m overly interested in myself. For some reason it seems vaguely unAustralian to be so interested in your own thoughts and feelings, but my hope is that when people read my words they will find something to relate to, or they will disagree (either is fine).
      Do write me a letter when you get a chance and we can continue the conversation.

  2. I’m sorry your last workplace visit was a bit sad but you were wise to skip the farewell. I cried all the way home from mine and it wasn’t that I was sad to leave but the artificiality of it all.

    1. I once read a really hilarious article about a woman who said that she wanted to break into her HR department at night and steal her records so that no-one would know when her birthday was. Then they wouldn’t be able to force her to attend the mandatory morning tea.

    1. That’s a good question! People keep asking me that and I feel a bit as though I should have prepared a ready-made elevator speech.
      In general, my plan is to do more writing and perhaps teach a writing class at some point. I have a masters in adult education and I like working in the adult learning environment. I used to teach in a technical college years ago and I also lectured in Australian Society and Culture at an undergrad level but I really got sick of marking assignments, so a low-key workshop environment would suit me well.

  3. Congratulations Marg on this chapter of your working life, I’m sure you will be missed alot. It’s those personal relationships that make a difference in a workplace for sure.
    I have a dear friend who is soon leaving the ABC after around 35 years. She’s also wondering about the farewell event or not. She has ‘attended’ several zoom farewells recently, and is very sure she doesn’t want one of them! Said they are pretty hideous and do not feel very real.
    Enjoy this new phase, xxx deb

    1. Thanks for your good wishes Deb. I might know your friend from the
      ABC as I left about 33 years ago!
      Yes those zoom farewells are a bit awkward and there’s not even any cake.

  4. Hopefully you have a nice husband at home you can laugh with, whinge to, spell for and socialise with in your retirement.
    It’s interesting the expectations one has from the workplace at retirement. It’s no longer just a job.

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