After nine years I finally left my University’s campus for the last time as an employee. I never meant for it to take nine years. The sleepwalking zombie morning ritual was the same on Monday morning, and but for the snow, it was business as usual on Tuesday too. Except something was different. For the briefest moments life had become something akin to an 80’s cop movie, as I reached for the trusty uniform, badge and gun (shirt, tie and ID card) for the last time I couldn’t resist the thought that something unexpected was about to happen, perhaps leading to someone muttering the immortal line;
‘and he only had two days ’till retirement’.
Despite the fact that I am only 31 it feels weirdly like retirement, and in a way that makes sense. It’s retirement from a career that has taught me a great deal but which, alas, I never loved and I fear never really suited me a great deal. I really don’t want to talk about my employer, except to say that it was a good one. Administration and management are things I fell into, indeed the various promotions I have taken have always been semi-forced on me from above and involved me being dragged kicking and screaming into a higher pay grade and responsibility. But it has enabled me to do many things that I would not have been able to do if I had continued studying, or (heaven forbid) continued being a bookseller. If you do it with your eyes open you can learn an enormous amount as a manager of people, most particularly about yourself. Perhaps nine years doesn’t seem like a long time, but including my time as a student it creeps nearer thirteen. That is a long time to be tied to one location, to one corporate identity and in the last few years it felt it. In that time I grew from a cocky ex-student, to a married man, to a father. With those changes in mind I feel I can excuse myself for shedding a tear at leaving those long trodden corridors and the desk at which I played so much StickCricket.
A year ago I would not have taken the opportunity to leave, but my experience of writing about history on this blog and interacting with other writers and historians over the last eighteen months reminded me of the things I always wanted to do. At some point I ought to make some money but while I don’t know exactly what the future holds I have some time to do the things that make me tick. Oh, and that other thing as well: to be a dad.
On a final note, one of my leaving presents made me chuckle most of all:
Perhaps it really was time to leave, they know me far too well. So before I mounted my trusty Brompton I left a few presents around the office as well, including the final appearance of Blu Tac man at my (ex)desk.
To play me out, here were some of his former appearance (perhaps betraying a little bit of my state of mind at the times):