Due to the unusual circumstances surrounding my departure, my coworkers threw a farewell potluck for me today – a week early, as my last day isn’t until next Friday, the 22nd. Not that I blame them; up until a couple of days ago, I had no idea myself how much longer I’d still be here. I’d only been promised two weeks initially, so they were right on the money in guessing that today would be the day.
By the way, it’s hard to believe that I’ve known about the impending layoff that long now. At the same time, it feels like I’ve had one foot out the door forever. I don’t know quite what to make of that.
It’s been awhile since we’ve had a potluck at work. I usually haul in my crockpot and contribute something hot, like meatballs. For some reason, a bag of frozen meatballs heated up with a jar of barbecue sauce is always a big hit at these shindigs. It’s hardly gourmet, but there’s just something about ’em that people love. Cocktail weiners are similar crowd pleasers. And yet, you never once see them available as appetizers on restaurant menus. I suspect there’s a great, untapped market for miniature hot dogs out there. Hmm…food cart idea # 2…
Anyway, as I was the guest of honor, and the potluck was kinda-sorta (but not really) a surprise, all I had to do was show up. Which was easy, considering it took place in the cubicle right next to mine. I couldn’t have taken so much as a single step without finding myself knee-deep in turkey wraps and fried chicken and Frito corn salad and bean dip and – wonder of wonders, be still my beating heart – an honest-to-goodness mojito cake baked by one of my thoughtful coworkers who knows that I am a lush enjoy the occasional mojito (probably based upon an ill-advised, half-drunk Facebook status update or two, oops!). The cake was awesome. Actually, everything was. We all agreed that we should have potlucks more often, although they’d probably be less somber affairs if they didn’t signify somebody’s imminent departure.
I actually like the fact that this happened a week early. Let’s face it, my mind will be elsewhere next Friday. I doubt I’ll even make it through the day. If I check out a little early, what are they going to do – fire me?! Now that we’ve got the business of saying goodbye out of the way, I can get back to the real business at hand. Which, admittedly, has largely revolved around me planning a strategy for my unemployment. I’m not saying I haven’t worked – I have, plowing through various projects as they’ve come up – but I think that a loss of motivation under these circumstances is unavoidable. Plus, I’ve got to take care of myself, because nobody else is going to do it.
Taking care of myself has meant a few things.
- Making sure my resume is up to date. Fortunately, it is, though the layout could use a little polishing. This is an easy-enough fix.
- Figuring out what LinkedIn is all about. I joined a couple of years ago, because my other coworkers were all on there, but I never quite knew what to do with it. On the surface, LinkedIn is kind of like Facebook for the career-minded, without the distractions of Farmville and Mafia Wars. But I guess it’s more than that…it’s supposed to be a networking site. Might as well use it as such – I’ve got nothing to lose. So I filled in a lot of missing blanks, updated my profile, sent out connection requests to a whole lotta people I wasn’t yet hooked up with, and even sent out a couple of requests for recommendations. We’ll see where this all leads.
- Having personal business cards printed up. Somebody I know (a couple of somebodys, actually) made me a generous offer to print cards for me, for free. The idea had actually never crossed my mind, but some internet research showed that personal networking cards are in vogue these days. Hmm, who knew? So I came up with a nifty title for myself (Writer & Creative Strategist) and a catchy little slogan (Mark my words…I’ll do the job “write”!), found a colorful image to include, and – thanks to another donation (free card stock), am now the proud owner of 500 business cards. These will be useful for interviews, and passing out to colleagues, and maybe even posting in random places. Like grocery stores and strip clubs. OK, scratch that last one. I’ve even got a link to this-here blog, so I’d better keep it (mostly) clean! The point is, they’ll help keep me focused on my #1 goal – to be a writer. And if nothing else, at least now I’ve got something to drop into a fishbowl and, hopefully, snag a free lunch or two.
I’ve still got a lot of work to do, but now it feels like I’ve at least got a head start. A lot of people are telling me they feel confident that I’ll find my dream job before too long, and while I’m not sure if they’re just being polite or truly believe in my abilities, I have to admit, I continue to feel very upbeat and positive. The thing is, I probably could have stayed with the company. There’s a customer service position opening up, and I was encouraged to apply. This would make sense for a number of reasons, most notably my lengthy experience in customer service (fourteen years) and the fact that I began here as a customer service representative. I’d pretty much be coming full-circle.
But it doesn’t make sense for the biggest reason of all: it’s not what I want to do.
“It isn’t your passion,” the VP in charge of that department told me, cutting me off when I needlessly began to explain my reasoning for not throwing my hat in the ring. “You’re a creative guy. It’s too easy to get pigeonholed into doing jobs you don’t love this way.”
‘Nuff said. He’s exactly right. Sometimes, in order to make your dreams come true, you’ve got to take a chance.
This is me, rolling the dice.
- Readers’ Potluck Dishes (dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Has LinkedIn Replaced Facebook for Networking? (chicagonow.com)