Monday, October 12, 2009

Day of the Living Dead

Part of the excitement of leaving my company is telling people I'm leaving.

For one thing, I feel like I'm blowing off some steam with the news. For another, it probably serves as good networking to let people know I'm out there and through the kindness of their hearts they may think of me if they ever hear of a possible job opportunity, or not.

In my office, most of my colleagues knew that I was trying to breakout for the past few years. My huge smile along with the news probably offered them some relief. Now, they wouldn't have to listen to me complain about our company or be brought down with my doom and gloom reports regarding the future prospects of the place. Now, they can get on with drinking in the Kool-Aid and believe that the company would not do anything foolish to jeopardize their careers any further.

The part I did not really think about was telling my friends and neighbors in town that I would be hanging out at home now. And as news travels fast, I soon found myself faced with a new dilemma.

It seems that quite a few other residents are in similar circumstances. As a result, small groups of these people who have also taken packages, early retirements or simply can't find a job have banded together. These are people who like to stick to a routine and they like to hang out with one another on a regular basis - something I don't like.

Let me clarify. I will have structure during my time off. I will most likely have a routine, and I will see people, but it will be my choice. I do not want to get caught up in someone's idea of what time off should be.

So when I ran into Richard at the town deli the other day, I knew I had to start preparing a better canned response.

"Hey, heard the news," Richard said. "How long you got?"

"About a year."

"A year, that's excellent. You got plans?"

"I'm thinking about some things I want to do. I'll be keeping busy."

"Great. Well, everyday after I drop the kids off at school. I head down to Rockin' Joes. About six of us meet there everyday for coffee. We could always use another guy in the group."

"Uh, sure. Maybe."

"Good, see you there, Rockin' Joes Cafe."

What did he mean, they could always use another guy? What is this some vampire clique? The problem is I like Rockin' Joes. It's a new coffee joint that opened in town with comfortable seating and some good food. Well, that'll be off my list of places to visit now.

And what about the other places in town I liked to frequent, the bagel store, the diner, the salad shop? I'm sure all those places have been infiltrated with wi-fi seeking regulars. Oh man, I might become a regular?

It was not until I ran into Morty outside the grocery store that I realized I may become something worse than a regular - I may become a shut in.

"Hey, heard the news about you, " Morty said. "How long you got?"

It seemed to be a similar conversation in Stepford. Somehow I had been targeted. I was new meat and the zombies were preparing to feast.

"We could sure use your help," Morty said. "There's a lot to be done down at the Town Beautification League. We got some new benches coming in that need assembling. And the mums need to be planted on the traffic circles. Maybe you can help out?"

I just nodded and kept walking.

"Okay, we'll see you down there," he called out after me.

Can you get unlisted numbers in hell?

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