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This is the third in a series. You can read the first and the second here.
This was my second-to-last week before retiring from the job. My replacement, a lovely woman, has become acquainted with all but one of my brood of clients. The community support managers threw me a party at our regional meeting week before last since we won’t meet again. And my birthday lunch group did a lunch for me this week.
Traditions about retiring from the job
Tradition at my company is flexible but very firm on principle: one does not retire from this job without at least one party! Our community support managers always did a party for someone leaving, usually a lunch, with tears and flowers and special things.
In my case it was more flowers than I could carry, and a Death By Chocolate cake. I put half the flowers in my office and the other half in my wool room, which is closed off to prevent sneezes in my husband.
I struggled to think of funny stories from a 28 year career but only came up with two, and fumbled those. So we talked about common experiences, like going to Boston for a convention. We got caught up with more recent developments, gorged on cake, hugged and cried, too. All in all, it was a very good party, and I’ll miss these guys.
Area goodbye party
Another traditional venue is, of course, one’s home area. Our Agency is divided into areas, since we cover about 40% of the state in land area. Tradition in our area dictates that we have a party the last Monday of each month for people who had birthdays during the month. Three of us have June birthdays, so there’s a cake for that.
But because I’m retiring, I got offered a big party after hours, or a small lunch party and/or a reception after work. Thinking I would prefer small, I opted for lunch, along with the birthday celebration.
So what did they do? On Monday they are putting on a cookout! They did it once before and it was amazing. Most of the women who work there are very skilled North Country cooks, used to potlucks of all descriptions. Not much work happens on Monday afternoon after such a spread.
All that food draws guests, too. I hope that a couple of recent retirees will be able to attend. It would be good to see them again, although I recently saw one at the supermarket. Had to share her with a client then. If there is to be a party over my retiring from the job, I want to have a talk with some people who have gone before me!
Good last meetings
Last Friday I had a goodbye meeting with a client who’s a real gentleman. He wanted to decorate some family graves, as he does every year, and Friday was when we could get together and make it happen.
The weather forecast threatened rain and possible thunderstorms for the afternoon. All morning the weather teased us with alternating sunshine and storm clouds.
We picked the gentleman up after lunch and bought flowers. On the way to the cemetery we passed through some rain, but when we got there, sunshine and a bug-removing breeze greeted us. The trip went so well; I was glad our last big outing can be remembered as nice.
A couple of lady clients have become friends and are plotting something for me on my last day, the 28th. I’ve known one of them for 25 years, and the other over 10. I hope it’s about coloring; they’re both good at it, and each has her own style.
A lady I’ve worked with for 20 years wanted a last lunch out with me last week, so we enjoyed onion rings together and talked about what’s important to her. She met her new case manager this past week at the office, which feels safer to her. It went well, so I worry less. She’s hard to get to know.
I put off to the last day saying goodbye to a couple of my guys. It was very hard; they’d been through some tough times with me and it really bonded us. One, who is very anxious, worried about my replacement being much younger, but said he’d try with her anyway. Another one occasionally calls me “Mom, I mean, Laura.”
Up till now the traditional way to replace an outgoing staffer was to wait till after they left, share out the clients over the remaining staff, and eventually hire someone else.
My new boss saw that as detrimental to the clients and pushed for an early hire so I could train her. We got very lucky. This young lady knows her psychology. She is focused, attentive, and a quick learner. Luckily, she grew up with computers so our electronic records don’t faze her. She even writes well in recognizable English, unlike some applicants with degrees.
This has worked out rather well overall. I know it costs more to have someone on the payroll for over a month before she can pay her way, but in human terms this has been wonderful.
The clients all gave positive feedback to meeting the new case manager before saying goodbye to me. They felt safer with me around while they checked out the replacement, and since she’s a pleasant person, they warmed to her quickly.
She followed me around for two weeks, and watched me do paperwork. Then I followed her around and reviewed hers. In between we talked about things she’d need to know about: special situations, things that don’t work with this client or that, and paperwork that only occurs periodically.
Making room for change
Where things are will be a subject for later this week as she will inherit my office. I have a lot of things to get rid of so she has room to do her own thing. Reams of stuff to shred after 20 years of supervision, and tons of obsolete information about programs that bit the dust quite a while ago.
And junk that piled up. I have a dump bag ready. In go the old walking shoes that are all played out. In go dusty pamphlets and stupid toys that ended up in my office. I’ll leave the quilt on the wall but take home my pictures. I’ll leave useful reference material and toss out what doesn’t apply.
When I finally turn in my keys and sign off the network, it’ll be over for good. I will have officially retired from the job. And then the new adventure begins!
What comes next? The honeymoon, of course!