Last Week On The Job

It’s strange to look someone in the eyes, who you have seen maybe once a week, or maybe almost every single day, for the past nine years. And realize you will never see this person again.


Every morning you expect to see certain faces, hear certain voices. You know who needs a cheering up in the morning, you know who not to tease and who is looking for a laugh. You ask some of them how they are doing, not to be polite, but because you want to know. You ask them and then wait for an answer. You try to remember everything these people tell you, perhaps in confidence, perhaps to gossip, but you try to keep track of it all.

Good, bad and sometimes even ugly

I always like to point out to new co-workers, that we might see work as just work, but for customers we are personal, they are not at work when they visit our store, and therefore they look at us differently. You may not really know each other, you may not call each other friends, but you see each other often and you know stuff about them. Good, bad and sometimes even ugly.
And after nine years, I underestimated how many people I actually see every week. I try to inform all the regular customers of my upcoming disappearance, and as I do so, I notice other people listening in on the conversation and reacting to it in an unexpected way. People who I thought might not even really notice me leaving, are shocked to hear I’m leaving. Most even estimate correctly how long I’ve been working there. And I’m starting to lose track of who I’ve told I’m leaving and who not.

It’s a very strange realization to never see these people again. To never find out how certain stories end, what will happen to some people. But I guess that’s just life. Saying goodbye to some people turns out to be harder than I thought it would be. To be fair, some people are easier than I imagined. And then there’s the select group of people I’ve been wanting to tell I’m leaving since I started nine years ago. But we won’t waste any time on those few today. I was thinking today how much easier it would be to just not tell anyone, and be gone one day. But like I said, these people confided in me for years and years, and they deserve the chance to say goodbye. It may not be as easy as I want it to be sometimes, but I know that when I look back on it, I’ll be happy to have made the right decision.

…a very bittersweet sensation

It’s the same with representatives of certain manufacturers or other companies. Over the years some of them have really become friends. And saying goodbye to them is weird. You think about all the things you’d like to say, but you normally just leave it at a “good luck, we might run into each other one day”, even though you both know that chance is very slim, 14.000 km apart. I think it’s different with them because you’re both at work, and you both know one of you would leave before the other.

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The early years, I hardly had any facial hair yet!

Leaving a store you helped develop for the past years is a very bittersweet sensation. Especially the postoffice, which was on the verge of being shut down when the store got sold three years ago, yet we managed to turn it into one of the best postoffices in the city within a year. No other postoffice caters to so many people within its area of influence. I think that is the accomplishment I’m most proud of. And it’s the hardest part to let go of professionally. To accept I can no longer influence the future and what will happen to both the store and the postoffice. Again, that’s just life I guess. It’ll probably pale in comparison to saying goodbye to friends and family, but that is for another day, another blog.

3 Comments

  1. As an Australian who’d much rather live in Europe, I must say I quake a bit at your decision to move to Australia. Yes, in many ways we have an enviable lifestyle, and I probably underestimate the appeal of that to someone from Europe, but you may find the mindset here hard to deal with. On the other hand, I know plenty of people, especially French people, who absolutely adore Australia and wish for nothing more than to stay here forever. Good luck!

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    1. I appreciate your concern, but I don’t think life in Australia is necessarily more enviable than that on western Europe. I have never felt especially drawn to Australia in the past, it just so happens my heart is taking me there 🙂 I agree that I will probably have to “kick off” from the Dutch hyper efficency mindset, but I’m okay with that hehe

      If I may, how come you’re not in Europe if you want to be here? I would think it isn’t nearly as hard to get into as Australia?

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      1. Just circumstances, people, family…. I had to make a decision back in the nineties and it was to come back here after living in England. In many ways that’s worked out well for me, but temperamentally I’m better suited to life in Europe. And quite possibly, there’s a “grass is greener” element to it. Anyway, good luck to you!

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