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Goodbyes

It was 4:30 and time to go. I had already created the email I would send to my coworkers, expressing my appreciation for the time we shared together. “If you are receiving this email then you had a positive and personal impact on my life,” I wrote. Ron, Vannal, Kay, Ted, Joey, Nev, Ellen. These were all good people, people who I shared an office with 8 hours a day. I can confidently say all of us are under-appreciated at that office, but I doubt that is a unique situation. Under-appreciated and underpaid. Hi ho.

I sat looking at that email, knowing that once I sent it, I’d leave my keycard at my desk and never see my cubicle again, possibly never see these people again, and while I didn’t love my job, I felt tender feelings for my coworkers. Kay was my dictionary, the quiet genius. Ted was the teacher, clear and instructive. Ron, the sage, knowledgeable  and always willing to help. Vannal was the trickster, sporting his Cheshire cat-like smile. Nev, the Russian, though I don’t even think he was actually Russian. I’d spend almost a year and a half with these guys and now I was going away. It was Wednesday and I was leaving for Korea in 4 days. I sighed, looked around me one last time, sent the email and left.

I should have said more goodbyes, but I was leaving with no notice. A dick move, I know. Most of my coworkers knew I was leaving. Management didn’t. I only found out I was going to Korea on Monday. I needed to take Tuesday off, and now it was Wednesday. I didn’t mind not telling management. I mean, I would have preferred giving them two weeks notice, but I harbored no love for my managers. My immediate manager, G wanted nothing to do me. I only saw him if I took too long in the bathroom and there was a high call queue or if I came in late and he wanted an explanation. Whenever I passed him in the halls, I would look at him and nod and say hey and he would look at me as if someone just farted. I preferred not seeing him when I said goodbye.

The director of the department, J once took me into a meeting because I had gotten really sick and missed a couple of days. He said “we need warm bodies in those seats,” he said. I’m pretty sure that’s how he regarded us; attending to call volumes, making sure the numbers stayed up. If you got sick or you were going through a divorce or your mom died, I don’t think either of my managers cared. What mattered most was when are you coming back so that seat didn’t stay empty.

It wasn’t a bad job, I got to wear whatever I wanted. Jeans and tee shirts every day. They were also pretty flexible on what 8 hours you worked as long as you got them approved and were consistent. For vacations, they’d alternate Memorial Day and presidents weekend, and thanksgiving and New Years Day. So if you got off on Thanksgiving, you were coming in New Years. It sucked, and it didn’t make much sense when we had an outsourced company in India who could have handled the meager holiday call volumes. The pay was bittersweet. 30k was the lowest tech support salary I’d seen in the entire region, according to salary.com, especially for a NY based software company, but It was still better than not having a job. Most of the people I know who left, did so because they found higher-paying jobs. I was leaving for a different reason; tech support was never a career choice. It was a job that I could rely on while I finished my degree, and now I was finished. Fast forward to my getting this teaching job in Korea, and there really wasn’t a reason to stay anymore.

I looked at the screen, at the office around me, I sent my email and walked out. I met Kay in the lobby and we walked to our cars together. She had recently gotten a significant raise and I knew she deserved it, in fact she deserved a lot more. The company’s raise put her at most starting salaries in our position. We both knew it, but it was still a big raise and I was glad that she got it. We talked about the future, about staying in touch, we hugged and I left. While exiting the parking lot, I took one last long glance at the huge 20 floor structure, that building on the hill, that I had knew, or at least hoped, that I wouldn’t work at again.

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