wishing her the best

I wrote some weeks ago about my co-worker Jan, as I called her, who was moving off of the project we had worked on together. I was cleaning up my instant message contact list the other day, and noticed that her status was “presence unknown.” That invariably means that the person has left the company. Took me by surprise.

I tracked her down on LinkedIn, and we finally talked on the phone last week. She had been working remotely from a small town outside of Redding, CA for some time. Turns out that she was nervous about her perception of how getting ahead (or even surviving) in her business unit seemed to require a physical presence in that business unit’s new office tower in Silicon Valley. When early retirement was offered at this time last year she raised the issue with me, but we never discussed it thereafter. I assumed that she had considered the option and dropped it.

Turns out that was not the case. She applied and was accepted (as was everyone who applied), but had her departure date deferred by ten months. She had kept that all very quiet.

HawaiiBut here’s the thing that struck me. She had moved to the Redding area with her significant other some years ago when his job took him up there. She told me when we talked that they had been together since high school, and that they had recently split up. How disruptive and disorienting is that? She took these big changes in her life as an opportunity to make another big change and move to Hawaii, where her brother is. She’s looking for remote contract work.

Jan, as I’ve known her, has always been hard-shelled (biting the heads off of nails, as I used to say) and expressed minimal emotion, except, at times, maybe anger. I detected a slight crack in her voice as she was telling me about the breakup, but for the most part she remained stoic. Still, what a major, life-changing disruption this had to be for her. There must be some significant pain and emotion just under the surface.

I do wish her all the best. I wish her an orchestra with which to play. I wish her contracting success. And I wish her love, and the chance to emerge from that hard shell.

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