Yesterday was my last day on the job. It was a quiet affair. Just before lunch time, I packed a few personal belongings, gave my two close friends a personal memento each (a tastefully decorated coffee mug for Alex and a charming Japanese tea pot for Jill), safely disposed of confidential student files, switched off my computer for the seventh hundredth or so afternoon, and slipped away unnoticed through the back entrance. Except for a few worn posters around the joint with my name scrawled next to the important sounding title ‘building warden,’ there was no physical evidence of my ever having been there.
The lunch Jill and Alex organised for me was delightful. Stubbornly ignoring my earlier pleas not to organise a parting gift nor have office staff sign a going away card, the girls proceeded to produce the fruits of their loyal disobedience. I felt confounded by my emotional reaction: a conflicting mixture of joy, regret and embarrassment. After we concluded our tasty shared meal, with heavy hearts we parted as work colleagues probably for the last time, embracing and kissing each other farewell.
Perhaps I should have said a proper goodbye to everyone back at the office? Maybe they were more fond of me than I cared to notice? Was it selfish and ill mannered not wishing to navigate my way though awkward well wishes, or expose myself to the social pitfalls of giving an account of an uncertain future? I don’t know.
Today was my first day in a short term casual job, on the other side of campus. The office is boutique sized but ultra modern and comfortable, my new colleagues professional and focused with an air of quiet confidence and deliberation. The language of work here is unfamiliar and mysterious. If the administrative workload is any indicator, compared to other learning disciplines the stakes seem higher in the world of medicine. Lots of signatures by lots of important people are required before something is allowed to happen: probably for good reason.
I am nowhere near Macquarie now. I’m about to leave the café that has patiently hosted me, my piccolo and my writing for the last hour or so. I need to round off this personal reflection. The hour is getting late for industry. The bars and cafes on Darling Street are brimming with hot and sweaty bodies on this sultry Summer night. Flirtatious and careless laughs spill out onto the footpath from Corner Bar. The temptation to take the most direct route home and pour over my eager notes and studious annotations of the day’s work has been quelled, at least for now.