What can you say.
Over the last year there have been a number of lay off’s in the company I work for. In fact around 600 people have gone this year with another 200 waiting to be told. A lot of people don’t know what they will do if it is them next on the list. I had to say goodbye to 4 work colleague’s this week some I have seen every day for a number of years. A couple here happy to be going with just over a year to their retirement, while two gents had mixed feelings. Lets call one Rex and the other Ron. Rex has 18 months to go till retirement, but earlier in the year he lost his wife after many years of illness. He admitted he won’t miss the job but has he put it he will miss“ the shit talk with the lads on the workshop floor” . Rex will be grand, he is a well travelled gent and with his severance package will soon seek the sun.
Ron on the other hand is a different man. People give him a wide berth. Where we talk to ourselves in our heads, Ron talks aloud. With head shaking and hands gesturing people look at him has if he’s not right. If they talked to him they would find a very intellectual and funny man. A man with great understanding but simple in his outlook. He lives with his brother and has never married, yes he has the look of a bachelor. A little unkept and rough looking. Like the rest he retires in a couple of years, unlike the others he will find it hard. While the rest said there goodbye’s half way through the day Ron was still there trying to find reasons to put leaving off. When he went from person to person shaking hands his eyes never looked at them, head bend forward and his usual shuffle he moved around them.
I returned from the canteen with a coffee and met my old friend Ron heading for the locker room for the last time. Stopping to say good bye, He gripped my hand and with his other placed on my shoulder. His eyes damp looked straight at me, ‘ I will miss you he says in a muted voice, miss our talks’.
I look at him and in this man’s face and eyes I could see the loneness ahead in his life. This place was his only outlet, his reason to get up in the morning. The only place he had company out side his brother. Still gripping my hand I tried to tell him has one door closes another new door opens. With a shake of his head and another shake of my hand I watch the empty shell of a man walk away.
I went and sat with my coffee and the look in Ron’s eyes were burnt in my mind. Emptiness hung on his body like an ill fitting suit and the sense I felt from him I have never experienced in my life.
I sit here writing this wondering how many men have given their life working, only to be discarded. To be cast into a life of loneliness or depression. In Ron’s case he is single but even men married feel the same when it comes time to retire from work. They have no male companionship outside the work place. I could be next to get that letter informing me my time in this company is over. Wonder how I will feel after 20+ years of giving them my life. I know the answer to that question.
In the next year(2017) this company is laying off another 7500 employees world wide, my love and compassion goes out to all of them. How many will be Ron’s?