When I bumped into a friend the other day she didn’t have her normal bounce.
I asked how she was and I was relieved she didn’t feel the need to pretend.
It all came tumbling out as we walked down Reform Street, take-away coffees in hand, while she told me she’d taken early retirement.
Except she didn’t actually have any choice in the matter. Her employers have been affected by the lockdowns and three months ago said they had to let some staff go.
She understood. They can’t keep employees on if they can’t afford to pay them.
But after 20 years of service “and breaking my back to work late, weekends, missing family stuff”, she was rewarded with “the smallest payout they could get away with” and a letter from HR asking her to collect anything she might have left at the offices.
Sense of loss
We’d reached City Square by now and as we sat on a bench, she broke down. Since it happened, she’s felt incredibly low.
She loved what she did. She got on with her colleagues and bosses.
Sometimes people find it awkward to show their feelings – maybe her boss falls into that category, but is it so hard to extend some decency in waving valued staff off?
So often we are told to think of work as a community, or being part of an extended family – so the sense of loss when it comes to an end can be very real.
I keep thinking they’ll be in touch… I understand everyone’s wrapped up in their own problems but it hurts. I feel totally dispensable
Some of my friend’s colleagues have been on furlough – and a few are also leaving, so she understands there’s not the big bash there may have been pre-pandemic.
A couple of colleagues have sent her a text saying ‘we’ll miss you’ or ‘let’s have goodbye drinks when the pubs open’ – but would it be so hard to bunce together for a gift or arrange a zoom meeting to raise a glass?
“I keep thinking my bosses just forgot – that they’ll be in touch. But that’s been 12 weeks.” she said.
“I understand everyone’s wrapped up in their own problems but it really hurts. I feel totally dispensable.”
The year we missed out
Most of us will have missed milestones over the past year. The poor pupils who had leavers’ day celebrations at school cancelled; the big birthdays from 21sts to 90ths; the heartbreaking inability to gather for funerals. The list goes on.
Some employers have managed to handle this right though.
Another friend had a glorious experience in retiring – spoiled with presents, calls and a giant Zoom call where a video was played of colleagues talking about their favourite recollections of her.
She went into retirement happily, feeling valued for the many years she’d given.
Not saying thank you or taking the time to make that person feel they’ve been ‘sent off’ with appreciation is thoughtless yes, but it might actually have lasting psychological effects; a lasting sense of being let down.
I wasn’t going to write about it – I wouldn’t even have asked my friend if I could.
But her eyes brightened and she said: ‘Don’t mention my name, but you should write about this in your Tele column. If one boss takes it on board, it’s worth it.’
With more than 12 million people tuning into the final episode of this series of Line of Duty, it was quite the success. Maybe you were hooked too.
Starring Scottish actor Martin Compston, it gripped the nation just when we needed a drama outside of real life news of politics and pandemics.
I love that sense of togetherness. We are told often that people ‘don’t watch normal or scheduled tv’ any more, instead getting their YouTube, Netflix or Amazon fix when they want.
Codswallop and nonsense I say – there is still a place for making a weekly date in your diary and lying horizontal in the sofa with snacks to make it.
Like the snooker currently on BBC2 – a reminder of childhood when my granddad would watch it for hours. Not everything has changed.
There’s just one problem with the popularity of Line of Duty. Radio shows, TV news bulletins, newspapers all breathlessly carried the latest cliffhangers.
On a drive from Sheffield to Cumbria this week, I had to mute the radio twice so as not to learn the identity of the elusive ‘H’.
If I don’t learn his – or her – identity before making it to the final myself, it will be a miracle.
Just when you think we’ve had a few lovely spring days in a row and it’s safe to start dreaming of the warm summer days to follow, the heavens open and temperatures feel more in tune with winter.
We’re in May – and balmy it is not.
Here’s hoping things warm up soon though. If we can’t get away this year at least we can hope to get the paddling pool out and spare neighbours the sight of our blue legs and goosebumps.