I went back to University College today for a former co-worker, well actually my supervisor’s change of jobs luncheon, someone who over the time I worked at UMA became what I consider a friend as well.
It was the right thing to do, after all it has only been two weeks since I resigned and re-entered the world of retirement. That and the fact that I wanted to see everyone again too.
No earth shattering developments have happened in those two weeks back at my old job, I learned they are interviewing three potential candidates for my old position, got caught up on the gossip going on around campus, a couple of people seriously asked when I was getting off vacation (they didn’t know I had left) and mostly I enjoyed seeing people who I hadn’t seen in a while.
Heidi had a great send off to her new position in another department in the University of Maine System – definitely a promotion and one she will excel at, without any doubts.
So that was all good.
Congratulations Heidi on a job well done, you were one of the best bosses I have had and I know that you will do great in your new position.
It was also like several experiences I had in the military after being transferred and you go back to your old duty station or old office. Even though you know everyone there, what they do and they act genuinely glad to see you (because for the most part they are), it is different.
Once you leave, you are no longer one of the team, not a part of the day-to-day banter, you are looked at as someone who used to be there and for whatever reason left.
I know because I have done it myself several times to former co-workers. It is human nature and not done to be mean, rotten or nasty, it is more that people have to keep moving forward at work and you are no longer part of that workplace team (even if it is in the same building).
Leaving might have been the best thing for the person leaving, but it always causes disruption to the lives of former co-workers who have to pick up the slack and work that you used to do, until they get new people in and trained. The old well-oiled team that knew their responsibilities has changed and most people do not really like changes in the workplace, especially when it disrupts what they do.
No one ever tells someone who has left and comes back to visit, that their leaving made their former co-workers lives miserable and a lot harder at work. Instead they all ask “how are you?”, “I hope you are doing well.” and other similar positive comments meant to create small talk and make everyone feel more at ease.
Today was no exception for me.
The easy banter that had been the norm, felt…well different, a little forced and I knew without a doubt that I was on the outside looking in and as more time passes it will only become more evident with each time I go back to visit.
In other words no matter how hard we tried to act “normal”, the truth was that today things were different and I wasn’t part of the UCLS team anymore.
The thing is despite being gone only two weeks, it seemed like a lifetime ago that I left University College. While I might miss some of the people, our daily conversations and the friendships I made, I don’t miss being there.
That was pretty evident today.
It means that I have moved on and made the right choices for me, at the right time.
Hopefully, I will keep in contact with Heidi, Helene, Brenda, Steve, Stacie and some others. Facebook is something that makes keeping in touch with former co-workers much easier, so it should be interesting to see that side of their lives – the one they show on social media.
However, I don’t see me going back to UMA for purely social visits all that often, if any. It is too awkward for me and them, besides they are too busy getting work done, to sit and blather too long with some old retired fart.
Although I do plan to wander around the UMA trails every so often, so they might see me parked out in the parking lot and if they wander over to yak – that will be a good thing. Who knows maybe someone will want to talk over a nice lunch someday – I think I can fit it into my busy schedule.
Some good advice that I got from a very smart man, many years ago, when I came back to visit one day at a previous duty station as I was leaving and he was shaking my hand to say goodbye.
Walk away, move forward, keep smiling and keep making those great memories.
You can’t keep going back to where you were – once upon a time.
The more often I do this, the more I see the truth in his words.