Saturday, July 15, 2006

Freedom!



It's hard to believe that only two weeks have passed since I left my job. I feel like an ex-con who has just been released from prison and doesn't know what to do with all of the freedom. Should I wash the car? Go see a movie? Do some laundry? Maybe take another nap?

In fact, the first thing I did on the day after I quit was to go back in to work. And considering I didn't have an access card any more, that wasn't so simple. But I had to do it. There was one last thing that needed taking care of. And me being the overly-responsible control freak that I am, I just had to set things right.

The whole last week went pretty smoothly, actually. I had anticipated that certain lawyers would wait until the last minute to hand-off some loose ends and had kept my plate fairly clean just in case. I spent quite a bit of my time boxing up old cases and sending them to storage or to the trash heap. All in all, I marked about 75 boxes for destruction and at least another 50 for storage. Gives you an idea of what my office looked like.

I did get put on one new project during my last week, but managed to wrap it up before the deadline. Or so I thought. About midway through the week, the partner in charge came to me and said there was suddenly some additional work that needed to be done and asked if I could come in the following week to finish it up. I told him I was already booked up. Fortunately, I managed to dump it on someone else. I wouldn't want to leave anybody in the lurch.

My last day I finished up everything on my list before lunch and it looked like I would be able to coast the rest of the day. No such luck. When I came back from lunch, I found out that my boss needed me to sign a declaration attesting to the authenticity of a chart I had prepared that was being filed in court. The only problem was, when I read the declaration, it didn't describe what I had actually done. And rather than change the declaration to fit the facts, it was decided to change the facts to fit the declaration. No, nobody had to lie. I just had to go through the process that was described in the declaration, i.e. read through a 75 page document and compare it to my chart for accuracy. But first I had to find the document. This is all standard stuff, of course, but IT WAS MY LAST DAY! All I wanted to do was get the hell out of there. Now I was stuck doing some bullshit declaration. And I was running out of time.

I found a copy of the document online, raced through it and made sure my chart was right. Double checked my chart. Printed out the declaration, signed it, and emailed it to our San Francisco office. I ended up fifteen minutes late to my exit interview, where I received my final paycheck as well as my surplus vacation pay (sweet!) and then I was done. DONE.

I made the rounds to say goodbye to certain special friends and co-workers, apparently wearing the biggest smile they had ever seen on me. A few of us went to a bar afterwards for a beer or two. Then we grabbed a slice of pizza. I had to pick up my car before the parking garage closed and, finally, I was on my way home. I was free. It felt... funny. I should have been ecstatic, or at least relieved. But instead I felt distracted and numb. Maybe it takes a while to hit you.

It hit me the next morning, when I woke up and realized that I had forgotten to leave the original signed copy of the declaration. It needed to be sent to court to be substituted for the copy I had emailed. But how would I get into the office? What a great way to start my new life, filled with anxiety, anger and fear.

As it happens, I had sent out a farewell email giving my home email address to my co-workers. One of these fine folks, who had been out on Friday, was in the office Saturday morning and had responded to my email with a nice note. I called him immediately and asked how long he would be in the office. He agreed to let me in, so I raced downtown, got into the office and placed the missing declaration on the chair of the secretary who would file it with the court. The whole process took about an hour and when I was finished, a wave of relief flowed through my mind and flooded me with satisfaction, peace and happiness. Now I was truly outta there.

I drove home feeling more relaxed than I can ever remember feeling. Not even the freeway bothered me. I went to lunch at Irv's and spent the rest of the day cleaning the bathroom. I even bought a new shower curtain.

The next day I woke up feeling great. My only problem was what to do. Go for a walk? See a movie? Take a swim? It was too much to think about, so I rolled over and went back to sleep.

HWD

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