Leaving your employer sometimes feels just as complicated as leaving a long-term partner. Some of the organisation’s behavioral quirks that seemed almost charming once upon a time now drive you rapidly into a paroxysm of face-twitching rage.
Of course leaving a job entails paperwork. I’m a bureaucrat so I’d be disappointed frankly if it didn’t. But it’s the painful failures to think the whole thing through that really begin to grate when you encounter them for the umpteenth time.
Let me give you a for instance on this. I got a very complicated set of instructions from someone in IT about my duties in relation to all the kit – not an entirely accurate list either – I apparently have. I like to think I’m an easy-going sort of fellow but really … On the third reading of the screed the only clarity I got was that whatever was to happen was down to me.
I couldn’t help but feel slightly like someone who is contacted by burglars a week or so ahead of a planned break-in. To minimise their inconvenience they ask if you wouldn’t mind jotting down the alarm code and the whereabouts of the valuables. Less fuss and bother, you know. Better all round and all that.
Of course the terrible truth is that my IT colleagues are also being ‘downsized’ and are doing all they can to cope with an ever-increasing workload with ever-decreasing resources. The problem here, as ever, is not with the people but with the system.
For all of us caught up in it … it sucks.
Of course as a manager I was also sent copies of the identical letters sent to all my wonderful team. My colleagues’ draft responses poured a soothing balm of collegiate consolation into my heaving, outraged bodice. They were funnier than anything than immediately leapt into my mind.
Here’s a sample – anonymised to protect the guilty!
One colleague wondered whether the computer that wasn’t on his list was now his to keep.
One was thinking of designating five separate locations across the length and breadth of the UK as potential collection points for their kit – redundancy geo-cacheing.
One – and this is my favourite – said that they would be leaving their kit in a cupboard in the office. She wasn’t planning to say which office and naturally all our cupboards are identical and none are labelled.
One planned to leave their kit with the Top Brass but only if they wrote to him personally and asked nicely.
One was even thinking of revealing that he thought he had had his dongle removed as a child and wasn’t therefore sure if it was something that now should be returned in the post even by registered delivery.
All very childish perhaps but sometimes profound moments call for levity. I’ve always been impressed by Danton’s quip to the men operating the guillotine. Notoriously ugly, he urged them to show his head to the crowd: ‘It’s worth it.’
But you do reach a point when all your instincts to orderly conduct and good behaviour rebel. Theoretically all my charges could choose to dump all their paraphernalia on me and skip off into the sunset. Quite what I should then do with all this flotsam and jetsam is not quite clear to me. Open a shop? eBay? Or simply find a cupboard of my own that’s large enough to hold it all.
We’ll see …