Monday, October 22, 2012

Poof and You're Gone

Last year I wrote a piece on the melancholy that I face whenever I think ahead to retirement (see Call it a Day). Walking off into that sunset that marks the beginning of the winter phase of one's life. Where I work, that phase seems to commence whenever the big green recycle bins appear outside of one's door. It kind of made me think back to the old Logan's Run show. They always come and get you when your time is up and nobody is exempt. Today's piece is written from a similar vein. Yet it is more about just how quickly we can be replaced with another.

There was a guy in my hallway at work who had been here for nearly 30 years. One morning I learned that he had decided to take an early retirement package that was being offered. I overheard this nugget as I was heading off to a 9:00 a.m. meeting. Walking back to my office about 45 minutes later, I passed by my colleague's office. He had just begun to pack up his belongings. By 10:30 a.m. he was gone, carrying his last box out to his car. On my way to lunch at noon, I walked past his old office and was blown away. The entire office had been completely reset and a new occupant had fully settled in. She was sitting at her desk looking fully comfortable. There was some cool jazz playing low on a small radio, while she chatted away casually with someone on the phone. There were personal photos on the wall, a potted plant in the corner, and her small conference table was adorned with a small bowl of candy. Poof and you're gone.