I’m retiring from my current place of employment in June 2018, after having served 25 years. Yes, served as in a sentence. It hasn’t been all bad. Every year we do an office Secret Santa. It is a week of gifts that you give and receive, each gift in the $2-$5 range. So many of the gifts are Christmas mementos that are kept at the office and pulled out when ’tis the season.
Decorations for every season have also accumulated and are trotted out like faithful ponies. This past Halloween, I decided that, instead of packing the ponies away, I would, instead, bring them home to join their homie decorations for each season. I’ve gone through Halloween and Thanksgiving, bringing them home. Today was the day to bag up the Christmas ones.
When it is time for me to walk out of the office for the last time, I’m hoping there isn’t much left to carry. As these things, and the rest of the items that have accumulated in my small cubicle over the years, dwindle, so too shall my attachment to the place I’ve called home for 40 hours a week for the past 25 years. It’s a holistic way of going about it.
I remember a happening 7 years or so back, when one of the young — in his 30’s — guys in the office was diagnosed with melanoma. He was married to a nurse and had two young children. His cubicle was the one first seen after walking in to the inner chambers of the office. His terminal illness was a public affair, as his loved ones and we, his office mates, took him on almost as if he were a pet project. His every treatment, his every response, were matters of public consumption. He had a website his wife created where we knew his every move. His wife, who worshiped at the altar of Western medicine, refused to allow him to try any alternative remedies, relying, instead, upon the standard practices of the oncologists: keep cutting pieces of skin off, chemotherapy, radiation, and the rest of the arsenal that kills the patient as it kills the cancer and you hope the patient wins.
We watched him waste away. We kept up prayers and vigils, certain that the mass of energy, our sheer will, would vanquish the monster invaders. Every day, walking in to the inner sanctum we would see him there, still fighting with every fiber of his being, even in his weakened state.
I vividly remember walking in one morning to see before my eyes a blank, empty cubicle. Not only wasn’t he there, nothing of his possessions, nothing of the context of his things that he existed within, remained. It was as if he had never existed. He’d passed away, “the company” had been informed, and “the company” erased him. Just like that.
I don’t want to go out like that, living or dead.