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Liberation

My last three weeks at work were very interesting. On May 17, I handed my boss a short letter giving him three weeks notice and he did not respond to it favorably at all. He pleaded with me to re-consider but I told him that I wouldn’t. His reaction didn’t make it easy for me and I wish that he hadn’t reacted as he had, but I understood where he was coming from. I was his “go-to” man and he relied on me a great deal to solve problems.

A week later, I sent out an e-mail to around 80 managers and technicians that I had worked with over the years, telling them that I was retiring. The response was stunning, to me. I received about 50 replies and a few telephone calls, all of them simultaneously congratulating me, expressing regret that I was leaving, and some asking if they could come with me! An outlier was a conversation with one manager, with whom I had a good working relationship of many years. She acknowledged my departure during a short telephone conversation that I initiated about a job that I was working on (an e-mux installation at 4649 Ponce de Leon in Coral Gables) but never spoke to me again. I had not had daily interactions with her for about a year, as she had been transferred to a different district. At the time I spoke to her, she was filling in for the manager I worked with on a daily basis. She said that she was “very unhappy” that I was leaving.

On the Wednesday of my last week, the crew took me to lunch at a well-known Cuban restaurant in Miami, La Carreta, and then on Friday, my supervisor took me to lunch at the Canton Chinese Restaurant in Coral Gables. I was very surprised by the generosity of my supervisor and the crew – perhaps they were glad that I was leaving! After all, I had been a thorn in many people’s side for many years with my focus on quality and on doing the job right.

When I left on Friday, June 7, my supervisor walked me out to my car, not because of security issues, but because it was the right thing to do. On the way, he bemoaned my departure, saying that there were plenty of technicians who he wouldn’t mind seeing leave, but that I was not one of them. I told him that it wasn’t personal – that I had to leave while I still had a chance of retaining my sanity. He completely understood (and wished that he could leave, also), but he still wished that I would not leave.

I had thought that I might get emotional when it came time to leave for the last time, but that didn’t happen. I was just so relieved that the ordeal was over. I methodically wound things down over the last few days and then walked away, on my own terms. That is the best way to leave, isn’t it? When I drove out the gate for the last time, I knew that I would never again have to punch in the gate code to get in. What a great feeling that was!

I’m glad that I could leave while I was at the top of my game. In a short time, a year, at most, I’m certain that the forces brewing within AT&T would have rendered me completely irrelevant and unable to cope with the new technology.

I decompressed on Saturday, June 8 and left for Haystack on a red eye flight at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning. That will be the subject of a subsequent post.

3 Comments on “Liberation”

  1. #1 Montanamaven
    on Jul 19th, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Congratulations! A nice story and a pleasant way to leave as opposed to the boot. I was expounding on the difference between a job and work to a group of young service guys at the car dealership. One was from Rome and immediately understood what I meant. In Italy no one talks about their job. It’s just what they do between sitting at the cafe or playing Bocce. It doesn’t define you.
    When I joined a company for the first time after being a free lance artist, I was quite happy. I had a family, a group with common goals and common interests. It was only about 20 people in all counting the assistants. Then they transferred me to LA and, at first, the largeness and “importance” was exciting but within months I hated the regimen and found the corporate atmosphere toxic. I began planning my escape.
    I work for myself and have for the last 20 years, but now dream of doing what you did. But my savings are not quite enough yet, so on I go for the time being.
    Congrats again. I am reminded of the Gary Larson cartoon of the chicken stretched out in Miami Beach on a chaise lounge next to a woman in a bikini. “Yeh,” the chicken says, “They made me free-range and I never looked back.”

  2. #2 Beth
    on Jul 22nd, 2013 at 11:26 am

    I’m so glad you feel good about your decision, Jeff—sounds like it was the right one for you. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your experience at Haystack.

  3. #3 Debi
    on Aug 7th, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    You are so lucky Jeff. We will never be able to retire. I’m so happy for you. Now you can be true to yourself and live your life to its fullest.

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