Reflections on past garden leave

Leaving the office for the last time.. with a box of things, 10 years.. never enough to not be waved goodbye. There’s a new set of feelings he’s got in the aftermath.

He absorbs the news, for a day or two, and slowly becomes evident there’s plenty of time on his hands.. suddenly stranded in limbo. When was that before?

In his case.. 10 years ago. Goodbye to office politics, goodbye to morning wishes he’d sleep more, crowded trips to work, worrying about dress code. How about being mostly away from home and missing all of his children’s achievements.
On the other hand: hello to enjoying free time, getting on top of house cleaning, refreshing the garden and regularly mowing the lawn, reading books (not only online newspapers), becoming accustomed again to a different pose other than the 10 – 12 hour stint at work. No more late night shifts or midnight phone calls which became regulars. No more New Years Eve work.

Hello to all his own personal time. Is that something odd to have these days!
In his case that meant going back to basketball and tennis courts, back to being slimmer, stronger and free of worries. Well, apart from.. ‘When do I visit the supermarket!’.. or ‘Children need to be in time for school!’
He gets to cook a bit, to clean a bit, to wash dishes a bit and almost feels the envy in his neighbors eyes when he steps outside!

However in the end (at the back of our minds we’re always sure that any good deed will truly get punished): mortgage, invoices, food, car service and various other expenses slowly muck up his new found free-own-time-novelty and the ugly head of ‘We need money!’ creeps in.
After several months the hunt for work is back on the table.

He still has his own time and new found liberty, but he’s also got a new self ready to crack open the office door. And this is where the real struggle begins. Job postings abound and his CV seems strong enough. Still, despite the thousands of jobs posted there’s only about 2% of population (maybe too lenient here) which actively looks for jobs, but it’s quite inconvenient they’ll all be competing with each other. As a result he’ll get the not-so-mighty-luxury to meet a demanding thousand people – all going for the same job.

And of course every time he applies it feel like the job is his.. right then. But after a while he realizes the little chance he stands above the rest. From the demanding thousand people going for the same job there sure will be one: more younger then him, more man or woman than him, more smart or just better matched for the job than him.
And while weeks and months pass, applications jobs come and go and he’s in the same place, at home. Some recruitment agents will want to chat with him even if the job is no more available, others will just want to hear what he’s after and somebody will invite him for an interview to a place which doesn’t even has a name at the front.

Neighbors come to aid: one arranges for several agents to call, another forwards all sort of company internal job postings even thou they’re not matching his job profile.

Heart and gesture are precious things these days.

As job applications come and go he invests emotionally in every single one of them. He imagines himself working for the local council, for the local supermarket, or the utility company with millions of customers, or for that mobile services provider, or that car manufacturer. Even for the University he left 20 years ago when was, sort of, eyeing the endless possibilities.
All of these maintains the limbo. Is it depression born of this dreaded free time of his?


PS, happy ending: 16 months later his former CEO helped him out of his predicament

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