Happy retirement, Ruth
Put your feet up and rest
Or have some adventures
While you’ve still got some zest.
Ruth snapped the over-sized card shut in thinly-disguised disgust. That was the last straw in the messages her colleagues had scribbled in her farewell card. There had been several more in a similar vein. Only Isobel had written anything heart-felt and genuine. In the speech that followed, young boss, Tristan, waxed lyrical about her long service.
‘She was a pioneer in the industry,’ he contended. ‘She’ll be going on to a well-deserved rest.’
She felt like she’d gate-crashed her own funeral. Her mostly millennial colleagues stood around, wine glasses in hand, smiling and nodding. A large box was handed to her, which to her horror, contained the most sinister -looking coffee machine resembling Darth Vader. She feigned delight, wondering what on earth she would do with it. She didn’t even drink coffee! She pulled herself together to try and make a strong, positive speech, to hide her vulnerability. But all the little digs she had planned to resist dropping in, pooled like bile in her throat. Their only way was out.
‘I’ve been aboard the good ship Abacus Advertising, longer than I care to remember. I was once where you are now and am now, where perhaps you will be one day, if you’re lucky. I’d just like to say, my dear colleagues, that you haven’t seen the last of me yet. And that’s a threat,’ she laughed, remembering the old adage about things said in jest.
* * * * *
Miss Gertrude Agnes Rankin. Trudy looked at the pay slip addressed to her and for about the millionth time, agonized over the names her parents had labelled her with. Gertrude, was after Gertrude Stein (her mother hade fancied herself as a bit of an intellectual) and Agnes, after a distant cousin who had married into the British aristocracy. Thank goodness, she could dilute it with Trudy, which was innocuous by comparison.
She felt light as a feather, as though a big weight had been lifted off her shoulders, mellowed by a few wines from the end-of-year teachers’ drinkies which had doubled as her farewell. Actually, it had been a bulk farewell. The others were going off to new schools, new jobs outside of teaching, travel, further study, maternity, whereas she was going to that graveyard called retirement. She didn’t honestly think of it as a graveyard, more of a potential wonderland in fact. She had almost danced through the school gates for the last time and down the street, the short distance to her townhouse in Mt Roskill. Unfortunately, she’d still be able to hear the playground noise but hopefully she’d be out doing exciting things so it wouldn’t bother her too much.