They are important, these markings of transitions.
They are the spirituality of the mundane. And no less the lovely for that.
Today I met with some of my friends and colleagues from a 10 year career with Argyll and Bute council for my leaving do. People said some lovely things, and I think they meant them. Tears were shed, speeches spoken and extravagant gifts given/received.
A while ago, whilst we were reflecting on the chaos that the social work department is currently experiencing at the moment (losing over half of the experienced managers with no immediate replacements) I wondered aloud how on earth the council could get away with it all. A wise friend of mine said something like this; It will be like a hand in a bucket of water, the hand thinks that the bucket will be lost without it, but as soon as you pull the hand, the water close like it has never been there.
I was sad when I heard it, because I knew it to be true. Large public departments are never dependent on individuals. They have a life of their own and there are always more people ready to be fed into the machine.
However, today might suggest that something lives on in the legacy you leave behind. The shape of you, even in the large bucket of water, in turn affects the shape of others- for good and ill, although I hope mostly for good.
Lest I start to get too elevated in my ego, one of the gifts given to me today was a ‘newspaper’, with the headline story something like this;
JAMMY CHRIS GOAN LEAVES TODAY – YES TODAY!
Chris Goan leaves Ellis Lodge Today… remaining workforce celebrate!
A Local Authority was in uproar today when one of its employees Chris Goan was finally ejected from the building. “He’s been a right skiver since the day he started here” said one employee who did not wish to be named (but known in the building as the Haggis Rustler) “I can’t wait to see the back of the bugger.”
One of Chris’s best friends (who will be paid later) said “I’m supposed to be on holiday today but I came in to see him leave for myself” He added “There was a rumour going around about him leaving, but it seemed to good to be true.” He added “When I saw we were doing a collection for him, I thought we were paying him to resign, so I put fifty quid in.”
Amongst Goan’s leaving presents was a half empty box of elastic bands, the account managers slippers and a card signed by two people (in the same handwriting.)
One of Goan’s work colleagues told our reporters “Nobody untwisted a paper clip quite like him, he won’t be easy to replace.” These statements were later echoed by Goan’s immediate boss who was found in a local pub drinking champagne straight from the bottle. “It will be hard filling Chris’s role, the idle sod took the heat off me. He’s certainly more popular than I thought he was though, someone chipped in £50 for his leaving present, so here I am.”
While the crowd outside Ellis Lodge enjoyed the subsequent celebratory barbecue and firework display, Goan’s boss continued to drink to his departure. When pushed for a more upbeat statement, he grudgingly added; “We wish Chris every happiness, no he has finally left us.”
A final statement issued collectively by the entire Cowal/Bute, Helensburgh/Lomond workforce and all MHO’s late last night read “Chris Goan, you are a… really nice guy! You are loved and will be missed, Damn you you lucky lucky thing!
(I think I have my lovely admin worker Issy to thank for this!)
As career epitaphs go, I will settle for that one.