Release Me

It’s unofficially official.   I’m being “released” from my job in mid-January. I didn’t do anything wrong. “It’s not personal. It’s business.” Yup! There’s nothing like a tired cliché to make the “we’re letting you go” process seem even more surreal. It makes me think of that movie, “You’ve Got Mail.” Losing my job, after 15 years of hard work, certainly feels personal.

I got the news on December 10, 2014. For the first few days, I felt like I was in mourning. I went through the typical stages of grief. It HURT! More than I thought it would. I kept wondering what I could have done differently. I wore a rubber band on my wrist because I couldn’t allow myself to cry while I was on the sales floor work. Negative thoughts would roll around inside my head. Why doesn’t my company want me? After fifteen years of service, this is how they’re repaying me?   It’s not fair! That’s when I’d snap the rubber band on my wrist. OUCH! Stop that! You’re NOT dying. I’d remind myself. You’re in excellent health. You have PLENTY of skills. You’ll apply for unemployment benefits. You’ll spend some MUCH needed time with your family. You’ll find another job. This is NOT the worst thing that could happen to you.

The truth is, no matter WHICH company you work for, EVERYONE is expendable. Besides, I’m NOT getting “fired,” the company is “releasing” me.   That’s the term they like to use.   As in: Be free, Juli! Run away! We’re releasing you into the wild. If I’d been a part-time employee, I’d still have a job. ALL of our part-time workers have been given positions within the company at other locations. But…there’s no space for more management. It’s that simple. I’m leaving on good terms. If a position were to open up down the line, I’m still rehireable. Although…I don’t see myself traveling back down that path.   They did give me advance notice.   (A good thing.) I will be receiving a lump sum bonus for sticking it out until my release date. (A VERY good thing!)

Sooo…that’s THAT!   Ready or not, I’m about to enter the next stage of my life. I’m not sure what that’s going to look like. I suppose that’s what unemployment is for, to give me a little time to think and adjust. I’ve NEVER collected unemployment benefits. I’ve never had the luxury of staying at home with my son. Whenever I’ve had some vacation time, I’m usually so exhausted, I can’t relax until my vacation time is practically finished.   I keep going, going, GOING!   There’s no time to plan for new possibilities. But now that I’ve had some days to adjust, I don’t know, maybe things will work out. I’m going to be HOME on Christmas Eve. Working in management, I haven’t had a Christmas Eve OFF in over 15 years, possibly closer to 20! My company recently changed its holiday hours. Yesterday, corporate decided to extend their Christmas Eve hours to 10pm instead of 8pm. This won’t affect my store, as it is closing, but I have to think about others in our company. They work SO hard, and this is how they’re repaid? It seems…harsh. There’s so little notice. Less than seven days before the holiday? That doesn’t give employees a lot of time to change their plans. It’s something to consider. It makes the grieving process easier.

I thank you all for your support! JH

The Next Phase?

I’ve received some good news. All of my part-time coworkers will be transferred after our store’s closing. They will have jobs at other locations. It’s a relief to know they will be placed. I’ve worried for them. When you work with the same team for a number of years, your co-workers become your family while you’re away from your Family.

Management still has no news of when or if they will be transferred. I’m still waiting for news. If I am transferred, there’s no guarantee that I’ll keep my full-time status with full-time benefits. It’s scary, not knowing. I’ve worked for the same company for a long time. It will be fifteen years this January. I hope things go well. I’ve heard rumors that are hopeful, but nothing’s concrete.

I try to keep positive, but I’m scared. It’s easier while I’m at work. There’s soooo much to do. The time flies by! Yesterday, we put up our signage, letting the public officially know about the store closing. You’d think it would be depressing, but it was kind of…festive. Everyone had a job to do. Everything was on sale. I played the part of the perky announcer on the P.A. There was a time when I was afraid to talk to so many people at once.   It’s strange to hear your own voice broadcasted across the entire store. But over the years, I’ve gotten used to it. It doesn’t bother me anymore. (Sometimes, it’s even fun.) I feel like an announcer at an amusement park. “Keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times until it comes to a complete stop…” You learn to talk over the P.A. in a singsong, carnival voice, but instead of hocking teddy bears in exchange for throwing darts, it’s about selling sofas, and mattresses, and dining room sets. Oh my!

I was such a shy child.   I never dreamed I’d make a living by talking to strangers. I never thought I’d grow strong enough to lift heavy furniture…and NOT smudge my lipstick. LOL   I didn’t see myself as a leader. I was so afraid of everything. I didn’t think of confidence as something that can grow and mature with time. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to enjoy all this and more.

I feel like I’m at a crossroads. Where will I go? What’s the next phase going to look like? I wish I had more information. I wish I had the guts to take matters into my own hands. It would be better if I were the one making all of the decisions, not someone else. At the same time, when you’ve invested fifteen years in the same company, it’s not easy, or practical, to walk away from it all.   I can’t afford to take a cut in pay.   I don’t know if I want to start over from scratch! I like paid vacations and 401K. I have my Family to consider.

Maybe I should play the lottery. I might have a dollar to spare. If nothing else, I’d get a dollar’s worth of entertainment out of the deal! It doesn’t take much to amuse me.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to keep my head up, work hard, and try not to act as lost as I feel.  JH

Goodbyes

It’s the first of December, the beginning of the month that ends this year. It’s a bittersweet time for me. If all goes according to plan, my place of business will be closed by the end of this year.

Yeah.

You read that correctly.

There’s been a LOT going on in my work life. My stress levels have been WAY off the charts for a good portion of this year.   I don’t know what’s going to happen.   I realize that the future is ALWAYS an unknown variable, but you assume certain things. Lights will go on when you flip the switch. The wheel of life keeps turning. But, when you’ve given almost fifteen years to the same company, it’s scary to face that fact that your job isn’t guaranteed. There are variables that out of my hands. I am hoping for a position within my company at a different location. But…I don’t what will happen. I’m afraid of facing a loss in income. I’m scared of starting over again, in a new location with a different management team and new coworkers. It’s tough facing so many changes and decisions.

Meanwhile, I still have a job to do. I have responsibilities. There are steps that need to happen. Steps that have already begun. Businesses DON’T close themselves. Each day has its challenges. We’re in the middle of the holiday season, a busy time for those of us who work retail, but there’s a rhythm to the season. A cadence. If you work at the same job long enough, you plan ahead. You don’t react to the season. You know what’s coming up and when, and you prepare for it.

A business closing also has its own rhythm and timing. There are steps that are taken over the course of several weeks during the transition.   I’ve gone through a closing before and survived virtually unscathed. They’re not easy, but the work itself keeps your mind active. You don’t have a lot of time to indulge in melancholy. You don’t have time to think about anything until you get a day off from work. That’s when you start thinking about, “What if…” That’s when the worrying sets in.

I’m fine as long as I keep moving. Yesterday was a good day at work. I felt like I got a LOT accomplished. I could physically see everything that got done. I managed a great crew. It’s a wonderful feeling to lead a team with a FANTASTIC work ethic. When everyone works together, the energy is empowering!   But today, at home, I don’t feel like a leader. I’m scared.   I worry about my crew. I hope they’ll all find new “homes” within the company. I hope they’ll be appreciated for their loyalty. It’s not easy for any of us to take apart the store we helped to build. It’s not easy to say goodbye to customers that have been with us so long, they’ve become friends.

And still, the wheel of life keeps turning.

What if… What if… What if…

Random, Silly Poetry

A Winter Poem, by Juli Hoffman

T’was 10 shopping days before Christmas,
The roads were all white, 
With at LEAST 6 inches of snow,
And not a snow plow in sight!

Other States might close down,
Going out would be crazy! 
But not in dear Michigan,
Stay indoors? That’s just lazy.

Get your butt into work,
And you better NOT be late!
You can leave the house early, REALLY early,
Your “free time” can wait.

It’s not a big deal,
Just follow the wheel ruts,
Like a old-fashion wagon train…
Oh, let’s face it. We’re all nuts!!!

Our tires are slipping,
The roads are a mess!
But the shoppers are still shopping.
Why? Well..that’s anyone’s guess!!!

They come out in droves,
And complain about lines.
Really? You could have stayed HOME,
With a large glass of wine!

Don’t get me wrong,
I went out today, too.
Chipped the ice off of my windshield,
No gloves. Fingers blue.

But sometimes I wonder,
At the end of the day,
Is it all really worth it?
Hmm… I do like the pay…

So Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!
Happy Hanukkah! Good Night!
While you’re out and about shopping,
Please try not to fight.

Take your time and drive slowly.
Wear your boots and thick socks.
Leave your “tude” at the doorway,
Or else you can “KICK ROCKS!” 

I’m back from vacation…

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View from the balcony of our hotel room. Yes. That is a snowman. In June. Only in Michigan! LOL Our hotel was RIGHT next to Bronner’s, the “World’s Largest Christmas Store.”

Frankenmuth, Michigan is BEAUTIFUL, its own miniature Bavaria right here in the States.  This was the first vacation we’ve gone on as a family where we all stayed overnight in a hotel room.  Lovely time!!!  Kiddo was the right age for this kind of trip.SAM_0340 SAM_0335

Short post.  Lots of catching up to do!    :)

Have a great day!

Juli