Wednesday saw me move into the final stage of employment. I’m now in a three month notice period before I’m made compulsorily redundant at the end of May.
Redundancy has been a word that has struck the fear of God into me previously. As the banking sector has shrunk over the last nine years I’ve been through a ridiculous number of restructures which have followed a process of fill in a form stating how marvellous I am, preference for what roles remain and hope I survive.
While I think there were a few mighty close scrapes along the way I managed to cling on until April last year. Panic commenced as I started applying for dozens of internal vacancies in a desperate bid to remain employed. I finally got a good match, albeit a grade lower and only covering somebody’s maternity leave for a year, but it preserved my salary and meant I could apply for jobs within the firm as the year drew to an end.
Then the shock of the cancer diagnosis came. And while I still had the instinct to work I realised I had this very limited time to travel in. Suddenly the much feared redundancy, with its substantial pay off (rather justifying the value of being a trade union member), became valuable to me rather than being a burden.
I also realised that if I’ve only got a few months to live then returning to work until the end of May was going to eat significantly into the travel opportunity. But I didn’t feel that I could get out and book trips while sat at home on a sick note. Garden leave is, I believe, usually reserved for those who might take company secrets elsewhere, so it’s better to keep them away from the office. I made enquiries about eligibility and thanks to the human side of the company it was agreed. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
Emotionally it was liberating because I felt I could freely book trips without feeling that I should be in work. Indeed, I even booked trips while on a sick note in February because a commitment to work had been lifted. Equally it was a really sad moment. Over thirty years of what I do and working with great people had stopped quite suddenly. While I’d had an eye on getting out at some point in the next few years this was much earlier than I’d have wanted in ordinary circumstances. But these circumstances are anything but ordinary.
One thing I can be sure of. I won’t be spending any of my garden leave nurturing the plants and mowing the lawn. There’s a big wide world to see.