PART ONE: DEATH
On the 90th anniversary of my maternal Grandmother’s birth, after 6 months of furlough, I returned to the company I had loyally served for 31 years and 8 months to receive final confirmation of my redundancy following a decision to ‘restructure’ the business. The irony of the date was not lost on me as she had passed away in May, perhaps this sad loss, in a way, provided a morbid metaphor for my 2020 working life as will become apparent over the course of the following paragraphs.
Being told in writing and subsequently in a face to face meeting that no suitable position within the company was available to me felt rather lazy and empty. My experience was unquestionable, my knowledge was excellent and my adaptability unrivalled given the number and variety of roles my long service had proven. Purely focusing on the most recent role I had performed without considering anything else was highly disrespectful and not a little hurtful.
You might think that the level and length of service I had provided would be gratefully rewarded but, of course, when there are helicopters, Porsches and Jags to support, the bean counters would rather hang on to the cash. Statutory redundancy (entitled to), payment in lieu of notice (entitled to), holiday pay (entitled to) and ONE month’s untaxed salary ex-gratia. I’ll give you a moment to let that last ‘award’ sink in… 31 years, 8 months and 25 days is worth, drum roll…, FUCK ALL to a company whose motto on their delivery vans reads “For service”.
PART TWO: WILDERNESS?
My redundancy came into effect at the end of the working day on October 31st 2020, I would challenge anybody to come up with a more suitable date for such a situation, but my news was already out in the wild from sources within my former employers. Only one source had my express permission and that source asked for it following a comment from a sales rep who had ‘heard a rumour…’. Loyalty is a one way street sadly. That rep contacted me and very kindly gave me the contact details of similar businesses in the area, 2 of which were in my immediate vicinity so I sent introduction letters via email to both but was ignored. My confidence was knocked, should I have been so confident that a job was waiting for me or was this the beginning of a long term of essentially aping David Carradine by wandering in the metaphorical wilderness…?
PART THREE: A SPECTACULAR DISCOVERY AND A SHINING LIGHT
The modern convention is to announce personal news through social media so a well worded, non controversial article was posted with a concise, to the point, narrative explaining my situation. I was flattered and humbled to receive a huge number of messages from family, friends, former colleagues, former customers and reps of companies I had dealt with over the years. One of those people sent me a private message telling me that his company might be interested in talking to me and had a feeling that my years of experience would add weight to his recommendation. A couple of weeks later, after an ‘informal chat’ with the interested party, I received an email with a job offer attached.
I have a pretty good strike rate with my interview to job conversion rate. Three applications, three jobs from 1987 to 1989, then one informal chat and a job offer so technically three applications and four jobs. My new job, starting 1st December 2020, as a trade counter sales manager, promised an exciting new challenge in a small family run business but in the same industry that i had dedicated the last 3 decades to. I have never been a trade counter person per se but I have, in my humble opinion, a friendly and personable personality so, coupled with my experience, it is a role which poses no horrors for me. A point which my former employer may wish to reflect upon and perhaps feel suitably shamed.
Starting a new job is a daunting prospect especially as it was the first time since early 1989 but with patient instruction and a welcoming attitude I found, and still find, it to be a relatively easy and comfortable experience. The attitude shown to me was first class and they seemed genuinely excited to have me on board. The number of well wishes i received from industry peers was humbling, many saying to me that i had landed on my feet with a great company with others telling my employer that they had made a spectacular discovery…
Early, very early, mornings with a 20 mile drive in the dark on quiet roads which flood easily and with the ever present danger of deer encroaching onto the carriageway. A change from the past but worth it for the friendly welcome on arrival, the genuine concern that my journey was safe and interest in me as a person. Proper people skills without any forced ‘better talk to the fuckwits as I’m the boss and they probably expect it’.
PART FOUR: RESURRECTION
Roll forward to early January 2021, a sales meeting at the office with 4 people in the conference room and 7 people on zoom. All opinions are valid, none are shot down in flames after intense interrogation, nobody is pissed off to be there or constantly looking at their watches. 2020 held challenges for the company, the negatives were the drop off in sales brought about by Covid-19 restrictions, furloughing of staff and subsequent loss of a couple of them who found alternative employment whilst on furlough. The positives were that they had comfortably kept the business afloat and, this genuinely took my breath away for a few seconds, the most positive event in their opinion was… A photograph of your truly appeared on the screen…
A working year that began as more of the same ended in an unexpected but welcome and refreshing manner, I sincerely hope that 2021 is a boring one.