Today marks the end of an era for me. It was my last day working at the Big Corporation.
Late last year, the Big Corporation had announced it was selling the division I work for to another company.
But between the legal logistics and the tax implications, it took a long time for the sale to go through. And because our division's functions were so intertwined with the Big Corporation's, the act of separating our businesses was like a brain surgeon trying to remove the intricately entwined tentacles of a brain tumor from a brain. But today the surgery was complete.
Tomorrow is moving day, and starting Monday the whole group of us will be working in another building about 5 miles away, for another company that I'll just call the Rather Big Corporation.
This was the last day that I went to the office I have been working at for nearly 30 years.
When I started working in this location, it was actually for a Somewhat Smaller Corporation. During the 30 years I was there, the company went through several mergers and buyouts, and finally was swallowed up by the Big Corporation. But the whole time, I was still in the same office building, with many of the same people.
I was only 25 when I started working here. It was my first - and only - job at a "real" company. When I graduated from college with my degree in Communications I was still immature for my age, and not very confident. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. After a couple of low-paying jobs at local businesses, I finally realized that if I ever wanted to move out of my parents' house and live on my own that I needed a job that paid more.
The one thing I was really confident about was my typing ability - and when I saw a job listed in the paper for a typist at the Somewhat Smaller Corporation, I applied, and got the job. I became a typist in the company's typing pool.
Yes, back then they had actual typing pools - a whole group of women in one room, typing away. It was like something out of Mad Men. People would come down from Upstairs and drop off handwritten documents to be typed and the supervisors would give them out to us one piece at a time. Each job would come with a time written on it - 30 minutes, 15 minutes, 60 minutes. I prided myself on being able to beat the time estimate.
Back then we didn't have a Xerox machine. If someone had to "cc" six or seven people, we used that special thin paper called onionskin, with carbon paper in between each sheet. It is hard to imagine that it was that primitive back then, but it was.
The "typing pool" was actually called the "Word Processing Center," because there were two - yes, two - word processing machines, which were used for form letters. But gradually all the old electric typewriters and IBM Selectrics were replaced with word processors. And of course the company did get copy machines, and the onionskins and carbon paper went the way of the dinosaurs.
I actually enjoyed this job immensely. I came in each day, was given work, finished the work, and left. There was nothing left on my desk waiting for me the next day, nothing hanging over my head, no guilt that I hadn't finished something.
However, after a few years of this, I did feel it was time to move on. By then I had met DH and he encouraged me to apply for an entry-level market research job that had been posted internally. I'd never had any training in this field but by then had more confidence and figured I could do the job. I got the job, and the rest, as they say, was history.
Thanks to the Big Corporation, I've had an actual career, and I have to say, to paraphrase what Garret Morris used to say about baseball on Saturday Night Live, the Big Corporation has been very, very good to me.
In the nearly 30 years I worked at this company, I made many great friends, learned skills I didn't even know existed - or which didn't exist yet - when I was in college, and let's face it, made a better living than I had ever expected to, based on my first two jobs! I was promoted several times, and had six or seven (I've lost track) immediate bosses. I've seen CEOs, presidents, vice presidents and directors come and go. I bowled on the company bowling league for 14 years. I joined Toastmasters and learned to actually enjoy speaking in public.
Thirty years is a long time. During that time, I met and married DH, we traveled to various countries, bought our house, made new friends, and joined a neighborhood association. I earned a certificate in Historic Preservation at a nearby college, and became a board member on the town historic district review board.
On a sadder note, during this time my grandmother died, DH's grandmothers both died, my father died, and we also lost several friends.
Many of the people I worked with are no longer at the Big Corporation. Some were laid off during the years I worked there, others left of their own accord; some retired, and a few, whose faces haunt me still, died too young.
For awhile after the sale of our division was announced, the enormity of the change did not really affect me. We were still in the same building, after all. Nothing had changed yet. We were busy getting acquainted with the new company and working on the transition.
But today, it was time. All the files were packed and my cubicle was empty. I turned in my badge and my parking tag to the security desk, and walked out for the last time as an employee. On Monday, life will go on at the Big Corporation, but one corner of the building will be empty.
Sure, I may be back sometimes to have lunch with friends. But it won't be the same. An era has ended and it has to be acknowledged. I started working in this building as a young woman of 25, and am leaving as a middle-aged woman of 55. A lot of water has passed under the bridge.