Monday, November 22, 2010

The Fat Lady Tunes Up

I’m writing this post because my last one only touched on part of what I really wanted to say. That’s what I get for writing it late on a Sunday night. Part of my recent string of reminiscence has been brought on by my current circumstances at work. You see, after joining the company over four years ago, we’ve been split up and pared down by the parent company. And, what was once a, seemingly, thriving office of 86 people is now a token of its former self. The end is nigh, and the refugees, soon to be but 3 of us (not a typo), head off into an uncertain future.

Now, I could go into gory detail about how 86 became 3, but it’s of little true interest to an outsider. A year ago, the details would have been unfathomable. Sometimes, they still are. We used to have a lot of fun, or at least as much as they would let us get away with during the workday. I knew everyone, even if they weren’t quite sure about me. You see, I was in charge, for a time, of planning all of the company’s parties and such. I got to plan the Christmas party, employee appreciation luncheon, summer picnic, and Thanksgiving pot-luck. We had a budget and boy did we put it to good use. We had fun and there was a general sense of camaraderie felt throughout the office. It was contagious and newcomers were often amazed at just how much the company did for its employees.

Then the axe fell and there was little joy to be had in Mudville. With the passing of each month, those of us who remained would look back twelve months, amazed at how much it had changed and wonder how we had gotten so low. As the year passed, the news only got worse and we could only reminisce in wonder at events and look back at pictures of better days. Gone were the monthly birthday celebrations. There was no summer picnic. Fun had been officially been replaced with worry.

With the arrival of Fall and Halloween, there was talk of end dates and moving on. A somewhat constant supply of Halloween candy for at least three straight weeks seemed to inject a little sugar-fueled humor into the group that remained. The sense of humor, if not a little maudlin, had returned. They say it’s better to laugh than cry, right? With November around the corner, it occurred to some of us that there was still at least one event they couldn’t take from us; our Thanksgiving pot luck. Sure, there were no company funds to buy the turkey, but that was never the highlight of the day. It was the two dozen or so homemade dishes that would make anyone who loves a Thanksgiving feast jealous. We announced it early in November and within a week, nearly everyone had responded. It wasn’t much, but it was something that people were looking forward to…just like the old days.

Though we were less than half of our previous size, the table was still chock full of good food. Folks came and ate and socialized and a good time was had by all. I was back in my element, coordinating and making sure everyone had everything they needed. I should have been a party planner…I like nothing better (well, besides writing). And then, as all good things must, it came to an end. I stood over the buffet table and felt a wave of sadness. This would be it. This was the last Thanksgiving luncheon I would have with these friends I had made. I didn’t rush to clean up…and now I know why. I didn’t want it to be over. I didn’t want the party to end just yet.

And now, as the year creeps to an end (yes…it’s not that far off), I am dreading December 31st. That’s the end date for 19 individuals I’ve had the pleasure of working with for the last 5 years. Has it been all wine and roses? No. But, we had some good times. We laughed together and supported one another when times were tough. This mismatched group had worked together to not only make the best product we possibly could, but a work environment we enjoyed being in. We had a good thing going. And, now…they’re telling us the party is over…and I’m not quite ready to clean up.

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