Breaking up is hard to do

The young woman sat across from me, looking a little nervous or, perhaps, just excited and not wanting to let it show too much. “You’re not meeting my needs,” she said, “and I can’t go on like this. Plus, there’s this other guy…and I think we’re going to be very happy together.”

Well, actually she didn’t say that exactly, but that’s kind of the way it sounded. Moments before she’d shown up with that “We need to talk” look, and handed me The Envelope. It was clean, white and absolutely neutral in all things but I knew in a single heart-stopping instant what it was, and what it meant. Guys always talk about how it came “out of the blue” or that they “didn’t have a clue”, but the fact is, deep down, we all sense that it’s just a matter of time. I knew what was coming; the sleepless nights, distracted conversations, morose pity-parties, the random outbursts, perhaps even some heavy drinking. But that was all ahead; first things first. “Have a seat,” I said, glad that I was already sitting down.

What she really said, in more or less this order, was “There are no opportunities for me here, and I have to make a career move.” And that “other guy”? It was another company, offering more money and more opportunities. Yes, this all took place at work a couple of weeks ago when my sole staff person handed me her letter of resignation and two weeks’ notice. Our relationship was all business, but after six years together it was hard for her announcement not to take on some “break-up” overtones, and also hard for it not to feel a little like a personal rejection. Oh, sure, there were the “it’s been fun, I learned a lot, I loved the company and didn’t want to leave” affirmations to soften the blow but also, maybe, just a hint that if only I’d “done” something it wouldn’t have come to this. Or maybe that’s just my perception based on manager’s guilt (I’ll let you know after therapy).

It was inevitable, however. My particular division in this global company is very profitable but pretty flat in terms of organizational structure, and while she was a top performer who had taken on more and more responsibilities over the years there really wasn’t much opportunity for advancement, especially since my absent-mindedness hasn’t (so far) extended to crossing the street without first looking both ways. Oh well, at least we can still be friends, right?

Anyway, my workload has leapt substantially as I try to manage my own projects plus all the other things our unit is responsible for, while also trying to hire a new person or devise a rational way to farm the responsibilities out to others. Along with that, of course, my phone is ringing off the hook, emails are piling in, and people are popping their head in my office saying, “I tried to call you — why aren’t you answering your phone?” While I was talking to one such person standing in my doorway today, another walked by behind him, pointed at me and did that thumb-and-pinky telephone pantomime.

I’ve got a strong suspicion that 9-to-5 ain’t going to get it done, at least for the next few weeks. I’m going to try to keep updating this blog on a daily basis because I enjoy it, but I make no guarantees that posts will be up to my usual standards, pitiable as these may be.

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