GOODBYE AND GOOD LUCK

Thanks for your service, Rich Paschall

He had been in the business for almost 40 years.  The last twenty-seven of those with the same company.  He liked his job and thought he was good at it.  In just a few more years he would retire.  Everything seemed to be on track.

When Carl started in his career, orders were processed with typewriters.  Carbon paper was used when multiple copies were required.  Details of international orders were sent overseas by telex machine.  Everything was done manually and file cabinets were stuffed with files of all the orders and shipments.

Carl made it through all the changes.  At first he thought an electronic typewriter with memory was just about the coolest thing.  Fax machines took the place of telex machines and world-wide communication was getting easier.  As the decades went on, technology and communications advanced faster and faster, but Carl kept right up with everything.  You could never say that Carl was behind the times.

Despite the efficiency of his work life, the same could not be said of Carl’s personal life until recent years.  Only as retirement thoughts started weighing on his mind did Carl pay attention to his accounts.  For the last few years he contributed to the 401K plan.  He even took out some small CDs for better interest return, since savings and checking accounts returned him only pennies per month, literally.

With age, came the problems of advancing age.  Bifocals were no longer good enough to do his job.  He was recommended to get trifocals but opted for a second pair of glasses just to see the computer.  His hands were stiff and sore and he needed medication for that.

Nerve pain in the feet demanded a drug as did high cholesterol.  His blood tests never satisfied his doctor and even when he felt well, there were many pills to take.  With all these issues, Carl still carried on in grand fashion and handled his job like a pro.

When Carl got a new boss, they seemed to get along well.  She appeared to appreciate his experience and they often had nice little chats.  When Carl asked if he could come in late so he could have his annual physical, his boss seemed disappointed.  He assured her he would make up the time during the week and she finally voiced approval.

The doctor’s visit showed the usual issues, but also “abnormal cells in undetermined significance.”  Carl was referred to a specialist and he had to ask for another morning off.  The boss looked quite perturbed when she said “OK, if you must.” Unfortunately for Carl, he did in fact feel he must see the doctor.

The specialist was a handsome young man with a sunny disposition.  He indicated all the dire situations that may be happening with such a cute smile, Carl still felt at ease.  His examination and subsequent biopsy lead to “dysplasia but cells are undetermined.”  Carl was recommended to a surgeon.

Again, Carl asked for a morning off.  The stares of the boss led Carl to say he would make up his time the same week and he would not ask for any more time off in the coming months.  He was greeted with a long and painful silence.  “Fine,” the boss stated with an air of exasperation.

The following day was a Wednesday and Carl worked hard all day under the glares of his much younger boss.  Whenever Carl looked around, she seemed to be nearby staring at him.  Needless to say, it was a rather uncomfortable day.  Normally, Carl had pleasant days and nice little chats with coworkers.  He never got close to any of them or saw them socially.  One young man loved having random little conversations with Carl about anything everyday, but he was the only friend, if you could call him that.  Carl was just at work to do his job.

At the end of that day, just past 5 pm, the facilities manager, the superior to Carl’s boss, invited Carl down to her office for a chat.  When he got there his boss was already seated and staring at the floor.  The facilities manager began.

“Carl, you know we think you have been doing excellent work for us for many years but…” Then there was a long pause while the manager looked for the words.  “Well, business has fallen off some.  The stronger dollar means weaker business. We are well behind budget for the year and we must eliminate a position.  I am sorry, but we have to let you go.”

Carl was dumbfounded.  He planned to work another two or three years and retire.  He was not ready for this.  His boss continued to look at the floor when the manager spoke up again.  She explained about the last pay check, vacation pay, Cobra insurance, unemployment.  She said she would write a nice letter of recommendation.  She closed by saying she was sorry, it was not personal, it was just economics.  She thanked him for his years of service.  His boss continued to stare at the floor.

pills and wine
pills and wine

He returned to his desk, took a few personal items while his bossed hovered nearby and he was then prepared to leave.  That’s when she came over and asked for his badge and ID and walked away.  “What was that?” a longtime female coworker asked.  “I was fired,” he replied.  The coworker started to cry.  Carl quietly said goodbye, looked around for his young friend, who was already gone, and he left.

After a few days of reviewing jobs on-line and making a few calls, Carl saw it would be difficult at his age and salary range to find a new position.  That night, he lined up all of his prescriptions on the kitchen table, including the container of powerful pain killers for his hand pain.  Next, he got a bottle of one of his favorite wines, appropriately chilled.  He opened the wine, poured himself a glass and sat down at the kitchen table.  There he looked over the table and contemplated his future.

 

Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional

43 thoughts on “GOODBYE AND GOOD LUCK”

      1. Hits way too close to home for me, Rich. Just add the phrase, “..we’re going in a different direction” and it could be me. But I did find a new and better life even though we had to tighten our financial belt.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Speaking from experience. I worked 30 years for my company, through the stress times and perhaps not so stress times. Delivering goods all over the world according to the deadlines and having a few sleepless nights hoping that everything would go well. It went well until the day when business was not as good as it should be, profits and bit company ideas were not working out and the bigger wage people had to go first, especially if they were ready for retirement in a couple of years. This is not a story, but my life and it happened with an unexpected phone call talking about early retirement and an appointment to discuss the details a few days later (yes I even got a warning). I was not ready for this. OK they did not push me out on the street a day later, it was all done very nicely and within the law and I was given a very good arrangement. All the same you had served your purpose and room had to be made for someone younger, cheaper and less loyal (a week later someone was sitting at my desk doing my work, which apparently was no longer necessary). Looking back I can be glad that it turned out how it did, but it left a bad taste in my mouth and still does.

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    1. Garry and I were each given about three minutes, whatever we were due by law, and that was it. Bye bye. Garry had been with channel 7 for more than 30 years. It took a while to recover from it, but he has. We have since watched it happen to many others. It doesn’t make it right.

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  2. I was talking to my son the other night about how my generation has been through so much. We had nothing as kids – only a black and white TV. No video games. Typewriters were the old huge contraptions with the high keys. Telephones were still the bakelite round dial phones. Even cassette players were still in the future. We learnt about face to face communication. People skills. Basic grammar skills. How to spell using letters, not numbers. All this is lacking today. Plus we learnt a work ethic. Loyalty to our employers. This is all lacking today.

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  3. I’ve been fired a few times – never for attitude or lack of effort I’m proud to say.
    I’ve quit a few jobs too.
    and I will say that on a few occasions, getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to me.

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  4. This is so scary and one needs to update on continuous basis, it was sad reading about Carl, could not resist leaving it, sometimes it becomes difficult for older people to be upfront with technology or tools, it was sad that they laid him off, instead they could have done some settlement to see what best could have been done to accommodate him which would suit him. Hope he got all the dues after this long service. This is again part and parcel of companies, even happens with the young ones, non performing but they get a quick one soon and further they dont have any liabilities most of the time. Wish him peace and happy life ahead.

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