Unto Others

Dear J-

One of the things driving me slightly nuts about the plant closing is that we did everything we were asked to do and more even while the senior management was probably making the irreversible decision to shut down. I suppose that’s the sort of thing you can’t really share with the folks doing work but I still feel burnt by that choice, like we really had a chance to change things and turn them around while that was being removed from us. I got a notice from the company telling me I’m eligible to tap into my pension — while it isn’t a lot of money, it’s enough to help with a down payment, assuming we ever sell this house. Our old house. Strange to think of it in those terms, especially since we’ve only been out of it six weeks, but there you have it.

So much has changed. Was it worth it? Is it too early to ask? Do we slip into the old bad habits or should we stay awake and aware of our choices, knowing where they led us before? I’ve spent money on music I haven’t listened to, books I haven’t read, life proceeding without pause while we wait for a change. Change comes from within. I believe that. We made this change happen in response to our external stimuli: the plant is closing. If I think about it long enough I conclude I probably could have kept a job and stayed on but … what? Is that a regret? The company has treated us fairly, but wasn’t it time to try something new? I’m living the adventure, aren’t I?

One of the most important things about moving for me was getting rid of the accumulated cruft of years, all the stuff, all the things we threw away was staggering, and we still ended up moving three tons of stuff. I can’t help but think what if: what if we had to move entirely out of the country, as my brother did? What would we have taken away with us? In the end all we really needed was the kids and each other: clothes are starting to fall apart, furniture can be re-bought. Far from being the most fungible asset, people have turned out to be irreplaceable. As many good thoughts as I want to think for the plant the irrevocable idea is this: they came into that with a goal of getting rid of people, and even the least dedicated hoarder would agree that losing talented people is untenable. I don’t have any particular regrets about leaving. I hope they do instead.

Mike

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