A Retrenchment Observed: Memories



How will I ever catch up on movies??

This is the least important question ever, related to my job loss. But as I drove past a theatre marquee the other day it is the thought that arrived for processing.

Lately, I think of my former  job primarily in terms of skills, projects, and experience. Not the most romantic view, but critical to formatting resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and business plans.

Every once in a while though, sundry memories that have NOTHING to do with a resume sneak in.

Absurd, trivial things, most of them.


Like catching up on movies.

You see, I’m not very good at movies. I blame it on staring into a screen for a living, but whatever the cause, staring at a screen during my precious free time fires up every last molecule of ADHD I’ve got.

But my job included these LOOOONG haul flights – 36, 46, hours start to finish, with most of that time on one plane or another.

And after 10 or 20 hours in transit, even I can’t focus too well on the written word. (I can’t sleep on planes, so my IQ decreases steadily after the first 8 hours or so.)

But, thanks to my eternal work flights, I could catch up on all the current films. Including many I never would have considered seeing in the theatre, and indeed, quite a few I had never even heard of!

I saw nearly the entire Harry Potter series of films due to flights. I discovered I Capture the Castle on one of these flights. A gorgeous film. And a splendid book, I later learned.

Without exaggeration, I think I’ve seen about 100 films only because of work travel. I even made my one and only attempt at a Twilight film somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. (Alas, neither 30 hours in flight, nor Robert Pattison was enough to override Kristen Stewart, so this one failed.)

So now, perhaps I am at the end of an era. Never again will I, the dork with the book in her back pocket, be able to tell my much more trendy and techie roomie about the latest blockbuster before she has seen it.


And the wealth of amazing names in our world.

Last week, on a job search webinar, I saw on the little Webex pop-up that so-and-so ‘Shabalala’ had joined the meeting.

It reminded me of all the many, many, fabulous NAMES that I got to experience in my former job.

I worked with people named Precious and Loveness. Goodson. Akililu.

How many people get that? In a whole lifetime?!?!

I had Mongolian colleagues with 5 or 6 vowels in their first names (mostly Us and As, if you can imagine), and twice that in their surnames! With little more than an L or a T thrown in to create form.

It was fantastic!

Unexpected expertise.

These job search webinars also remind me of how curious my last 10 years have been: for every technical problem we’ve encountered on the webinars, I am used to it, and I know the most likely solution.

And rest assured, this is not due to ANY natural tech-geek gifting on my part. I have none. 

Rather, this results from having spent a decade trying to run web meetings across half a dozen or so countries with varying degrees of internet connectivity.

My Dad uses an expression sometimes: ‘Busy as a one armed paper-hanger’; running web meetings made that expression very real for me.

But boy can I troubleshoot now!!   😀

But also unexpected traditions.

Not having grown up going to church, and having rarely ever set foot in a liturgical church, I began my former job with no idea what Ash Wednesday was about.

But, being a Christian organisation, one of the things my former employer did was host an Ash Wednesday Chapel.

At first I was kind of freaked out about the whole ash thing. (Which, I should be clear, was entirely optional.) It was COOL, but I just didn’t know enough about it to participate.

The next year, though, I thought I’d give it a try.

And it was surprisingly meaningful.

That first year, just having the ashes on my skin was incredibly distracting.

I could feel the ashes ALL DAY, in that way you ‘feel’ something because it’s so odd and out of place, even if it’s not really that tangible.

And that was valuable.

I had certainly never been so fully focused on Ash Wednesday, or Lent, or even EASTER, until a pastor placed a tiny smudge of ash on my forehead, and that ash concentrated all my attention.

And while this didn’t occur to me then, or in the years after, I realise now how interesting and even profound it is that I regularly had meetings with  colleagues whose foreheads were also smudged with ash – and nothing about that was distracting.

I was in a job search class recently where the facilitator was admonishing us not to speak bitterly about our former employers during future interviews.

Good policy on many levels, but pretty well lost on me – I simply have no bitterness about my former job.

Or even the loss of it.

Disappointment, sure. And moments of sadness and loss (not to mention panic) because it’s gone. But I can’t think of anything to be bitter about, with the richness of experiences that it brought me.

What blessings have you been able to carry with you from even those bits of the past that didn’t end quite how you would have preferred?

Be well. 

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