On leaving without saying goodbye

Ok, I get it.
You don’t like goodbyes. I don’t think I know anyone who particularly enjoys them.

You were – and are – well and truly finished here, you did your time, you ate the cake, you packed your coffee cup, you were ready to leave.

There’s no real sensible reason to hang about waiting for people to appear so you can finally say bye and get the hell out of here.

I get that.

It’s just… I would have liked the chance to say bye. And thank you. You’ve done so much for me that you probably don’t realise. It would’ve been good to tell you I appreciate it.

Not that there were no chances. I just thought there’d be more.

More chances. More time.

Time to go the loo quickly while you finished packing.

Time to dig your prezzie out of my bag while you carried your boxes to the steps.

Time to say bye before you drove off to seek more fortuitous fortunes.

(I hope you find them.)

Today was a good day. I hope you thought so too.

I learned a lot, as always, when I work with you.

I’m going to miss those days, the ones where the goal was work, and the way there was fun. Pretty much everything seems possible when it’s fun. Even the tough projects.

***

I suppose the take-away-message is ‘don’t assume’.

Don’t assume they’ll always be there.

Don’t assume they’ll wait for you to say bye.

Get in there first. Say what you want to say well before they’re due to leave, even if it seems weird to say bye hours in advance.

***

No, no one’s died. I was just a bit shaken (and a bit mad) that one of my favourite colleagues not only resigned, but also disappeared without saying goodbye. I wrote it directly after he left, but didn’t want to post it while it was so fresh. I never sent it. Maybe I should have done. Maybe I still will.

On art, anniversaries, and playing with poo

Friday was my 6th just-finished-my-aprenticeship leavers-party anniversary.

I didn’t exactly celebrate, but I did get DB to take me to a friend’s ‘horse farm’ and load a trailer with 3-yr-old horsepoo.

Somehow it seemed fitting.

***

The headteacher usually gives the speech at the leavers ceremony on the last day of school. Usually. When my year group finished, he unfortunately had some extraordinarily important, spontaneous meeting planned which couldn’t possibly be moved to a different day (or time), so he handed the responsibility to his deputy, an art teacher on the verge of retirement. I’d never had him as a teacher, but he seemed innocuous enough. Until the leavers do anyway..

It started at 11 am.

Most of us were still exhausted(/hung over) from the unofficial party the night before, but that didn’t bother us much. It had mostly been a good night and we were ready for the friends, parents* and/or grandparents* to turn up and celebrate us. We were the Stars of all the shows and we wanted (and, at least in our minds, deserved πŸ˜‰ ) to be applauded for working so hard for so long.

The tables had been decorated and the canteen staff had graciously allowed us to use real plates and cups, instead of plastic. The stage was full of balloons from the morning’s balloon fight. J and I had organised drinks and most of the group had brought cake, sandwiches, biscuits and other party foodstuffs – someone had even made trifle, but don’t ask who. Several select members of the group below us had been chosen to wait on us.

Anyway, the scene was set.
Let the show begin!

The deputy head got onto the stage and, after all the customary waffling and welcoming that goes on at these things, he proceeded to spend 20 minutes recounting his first artistic endeavours. Which, seeing as he was an art teacher, would have been okay, IF he’d started his artistic career using crayons or potato prints or fingerpaints and paper like the rest of us. However. He had had the dubious privilege of learning to paint with the contents of his nappy and the walls of his bedroom.

Even that would’ve been bearable if it had been a 30 second joke before he moved on to something serious, but it wasn’t and he didn’t.

20 minutes is a long time to listen to someone you don’t know talk in graphic detail about things you’d really rather not know about.

It was excruciatingly embarrassing. Cringeworthy even.

No one actually got up and ran away, but it would have been understandable and probably appropriate.

I think the only thing keeping us there was the promise of certificates and once we’d got our grubby mitts on them there was no stopping us.

No one really felt like staying on and celebrating afterwards. Coffee was served and drunk in a stunned silence, no one really had an appetite for anything, much less for chocolate mousse or trifle.

By 1pm the hall was empty, except for J and I and a couple of others who stayed to clear up before going our separate ways for the weekend and the rest of the summer.

***

Which brings me back to the weekend.
I never thought I’d spend a weekend playing with poo. But I did. And I even quite enjoyed it.

I have a new raised bed and while the horsepoocompost was already amazing the way we got it, it’s also full of bits of wood and random stuff like clothes pegs, so I’ve been sieving the biggest stuff out. I’m getting a load of topsoil delivered this week so hopefully, by the end of the week, my babies will have new homes by the weekend πŸ™‚

*(not mine, but all the rest)

On broken glass and freedom

Yesterday I cleared my workshop of almost every trace of my existence.

I say ‘almost’, because I left my ex-colleague something to remember me by:

image

This is a box of broken glass bigger and heavier than you can move around easily, and less substantial than it would need to be to pick up and pour into smaller containers.

I wouldn’t normally be so schadenfroh (something like bitchy), except he’d written a notice in the usual dustbin to say I shouldn’t add anything to it…

image

There’s something very therapeutic about the noise glass makes when it breaks. It’s better when done purposefully, and even better than that when hurled into a box in the knowledge that you are not only doing what you promised (clearing up) but also creating an annoyance factor in the process :).

All that’s left to do now is hand in the key and I can shake the dust off my sandals (or boots in this case) and be done with it all.

On taking leave of the one armed sweeper

I moved into this flat almost exactly 3 years ago. In that time I have walked to and from my workshop/the train station something like a thousand times.

A one-armed man lives on route and seems to spend a large portion of his life outside sweeping. It doesn’t seem to matter much what he sweeps; snow, dust, leaves, cigarette stubs, he’s just always out there on the pavement. Unless that is, he’s kneeling in the garden planting rows of identical, perfect plants. Pansies in winter, primroses in summer. They’re the most evenly positioned plants I’ve ever seen, and the most regularly watered. I’m sure they bloom longer than anyone else’s too, though, so it must be working.

I don’t know when we started nodding as we passed, or greeting each other, but it was probably just after I moved in.

Anyway. I haven’t seen him in ages, being as how I’ve been in Berlin so often and working so much overtime. This morning he gave me the widest grin and said, “Good morning!! Where are you? So long no seeing!!” in his broken German. I explained that I’d been away and that I was moving soon. We shook hands and he wished me all the best.

As I walked the rest of the way to work, I thought about how I knew practically nothing about him, and yet he’d cheered me up on so many occasions, just by existing. There’s something ridiculous about feeling sorry for yourself when you see a smiling one-armed man clear a path through the snow more quickly than you can walk along it…

I hope he carries on with the sweeping and planting for a long time.

I’ll miss him.

On cheese, fairy lights and going out with a bang..

..or a fire alarm, depending on personal preference.

image

I celebrated my leaving party on Monday.

I invited everyone who’s worked with me, and who I’ve worked for, since being here (4 and a bit years). I even invited my soon-to-be-ex colleague – it WAS kind of held in his honour after all – but he luckily didn’t come.

In the invitation I asked for volunteers to help me with preparations. There were so many helpers – not only beforehand, but also during and after the party itself – that it makes my head reel a bit just thinking about how lucky I am to know such amazing people. Some brought cake, biscuits or chocolates, one made a galoptious potfull of curry, some decorated the conference room, one helped me bake scones, some made sure the food was hot before carrying it in, others moved tables, collected dirty plates or washed up. There are probably a whole lot of people who did things I didn’t properly notice but who were busy in the background ensuring everything worked out.

My own part in the proceedings was largely unhelpful. I basically wrote a list of jobs I thought were necessary and left them to it while I busied myself with torturing pieces of cheese-and-pineapple with pointy sticks in the kitchen.

At exactly half past 4 they called me into the other room and sang “for she’s a jolly good fellow” (rather off-key and with a range of different lyrics, but who cares about tunes and words :))

The ‘party room’ looked fantastic, I’d brought fairy lights and candles and food and told my helpers to have fun playing. They’d mostly disregarded the ideas I’d had, but it was so much better their way πŸ˜‰

I declared the buffet – if you can call a table of scones and cakes a buffet – opened and made a beeline for the tea.

***

I’d made several trays of food at the weekend, things like pasta bake that just needed warming up. I left everyone to their plates and went to put the trays of food in the oven – a posh job, where the oven racks/shelves are attached to the door and the whole thing opens like a drawer.

I was standing in the kitchen talking to the ‘curry-lady’ (who was cooking rice for me) when they called me into the other room (again). I left her to look after the oven as well as the rice and went back to the party.

One of my bosses gave a speech and presented me with a bunch of roses, Cornelia Funke’s Tintenherz trilogy and a hedgehog made of “waschknete” (plasticine you can use as soap) with rolled up money stuck in it as spines. Even those who couldn’t make it to the party had contributed and written in the card.

imageI was still admiring the roses when the rice lady came in to ask me to check if the food was done. Back I went to the kitchen. No rest for the celebrated, huh?

What started off as simply checking the state of the cheese, turned into something like the tablecloth trick only less elegant. The drawer was heavy and opened slowly and the pasta tray stayed put in the middle of the oven. I shut the door again in the hope it would be pushed back on to the rack and announced that it was falling off. Unfortunately no one understood what I meant. The helpful person next to me apparently thought I was too weak to open the oven and hurried to my rescue. He opened the oven door with full force and was privy to the best view of the tray emptying itself all over the bottom of the oven.

We scooped up as much as we could and I went back to the party, taking the curry with me.

Next thing we knew, was the fire alarm was blaring and a horde of fire engines was rushing to the scene…

Still, if you’re going to leave, you might as well make your mark first.

I really really hope nothing actually burned elsewhere while the firemen inspected the cheese-lined oven.

On facing the music

– or not as the case may be.

When I first handed my notice in, I thought there’d be a whole lot of trouble – my soon-to-be-ex Colleague is a grumpy git at the best of times – but he didn’t have anything to say when I said I was leaving and everyone else was upset but totally understanding.

I think there are probably loads of things where real-life paints a much better picture than your imagination does.

I mislaid a project for a customer in about June for instance, and came across it again while tidying up the workshop. He hadn’t phoned to ask about it or complain, so I figured it couldn’t be too urgent, but it was still embarrassing not to habe done it. I decided to apologise and ask him if he still needed it anyway, and he was luffly and said he did still need it, but thatΒ  he’d been working on something else and would ask my soon-to-be-ex-colleague next year.

So thankful not to have to try and fit it into my last week here… πŸ™‚

* (also saw it a couple of times while working on my MeisterstΓΌck but couldn’t do anything about it and so ignored it)

On quitting

πŸ™‚ Yesterday I handed in my notice πŸ™‚

πŸ™‚ I have to work ’til the end of the year but come January I’m a free woman πŸ™‚

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚