In which yet another letter comes and we ponder our dongles …

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 …

About redundantpublicservant

A redundant UK public servant looking for work, sharing his experiences and providing a space for others to do the same.
This entry was posted in bureaucrats, HR departments, Redundancy, rejection letters, war on the deficit and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to In which yet another letter comes and we ponder our dongles …

  1. paulpukka says:

    As someone in a team that has to send these sorts of letters, I do sympathise. It’s worth remembering that whilst doing this work and desperately trying not to offend/upset people who are in this position, half of our own team have been served notice of redundancy too. It’s sometimes easy to write us off as faceless beuraucrats (sound familiar?), but to recover all IT kit is an incredibly difficult task and we are trying to do this as conscientiously as possible.

    • Dear paulpukka,

      I absolutely take your point. It’s a terrible time for anyone caught up in the war on the deficit. It’s too easy to forget that we public servants are all ‘in this together’. As ever, it’s the system not the people which creates the gloom.

      Good luck to you and all your colleagues,


    • Sorry to hear this Paul, its a truism that we are all in this together (we who are having this done to us that is).
      As I’ve been an autonomous organisation and am downsizing myself into early retirement as part of the cuts, and as no-one cared about staking a claim and hence responsibility for me when the times were good I’m organising all this for myself and my team. Last week I cut up my corporate credit card and sent it back. The process feels at times a bit like digging my own grave – so for those of you who have a job as one of the corporate grave diggers – your role is necessary and in some ways its better to have you doing it than having to worry about it all as a single person.
      Doing things right and leaving things tidy is part of a professional exit process. It must be very difficult to manage this (I mean this). My empathy.

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