Thursday, July 16, 2009

And so it ends.....

I was the last to leave my floor after the building officially closed for the night. How fitting. In the back room, what was left in my locker I stuffed into my bookbag. My key card and city of Chicago ID were gently placed in my supervisor's mailbox.

Everything was given one last look and I said a prayer of thanks. I'd worked here approximately two years and four months. The longest I had held a job. I was proud and grateful for that. This space became like a second home, the coworkers an extended family.

As the closing door behind me echoed in the hallway, down the escalators I went. Teary-eyed, I left my workplace for the final time. I was being laid off and yesterday was my last day.

God knows I hated that job. A major city department, we dealt with people every day. The redundant, tedious, and never-ending work. The regular homeless patrons and ex-convicts. Finding toenail clippings, pairs of underwear, and yes, even fecal matter. I won't be missing ANY of those things.

But it was a steady (though small) source of income. Working there got this anti-social butterfly more comfortable around people. It got me out of the house. Perhaps most importantly it allowed me to make some wonderful friends.

Once I left the building it all started to sink in and the tears started flowing. I didn't want the nighttime crowds walking about to see me boo-hooing so I went where I normally go on my late nights when I wanted to be alone.

Aon Center courtyard ("my spot") looking south of the Loop

The Aon Center has a very large yet softly lit courtyard that is sort of hidden from the main streets. I love it there at night because it's private and packed with trees and plants. The surrounding skyscrapers all aglow just add to the romantic ambiance.

It has been my secret safe-haven from tourists, drunk Cubs fans, or rowdy teens roaming the Chicago streets at night while waiting two long hours for my train to arrive.

And so I sat by my spot one final time thinking about things (as always) and just cried and cried and cried.

"My spot" facing north of the Loop

Before I started this job I was in such a bad emotional state of mind. A deep, deep despair. And now I fear, almost 2 1/2 years later, that I'll fall right back into it. I can feel it creeping up for me already.

I brought just two tissues thinking maybe I'd have to blot my eyes once or twice. Oh I was wrong! I went into the "ugly cry" several times. Lips quivering. Nose running. Even the back of my neck became sore.

The time finally came to start heading to the train station. Still in the courtyard, I once again said a prayer of thanks, this time for keeping me safe on my late nights. That "my spot" may provide shelter to those who need it in the future just as it did me.

On the way home I thought about what one of my coworkers told me just two hours earlier.

She was going down the escalator as I headed into the back office. Our eyes met briefly. I smiled. Now out of view, she called out in a cracked voice, "I hope good things happen for you, Dean."

I hope so too. I hope so too.


Carolina said...

Yes, of course, Dean! This is only the beginning of something great!
Best regards,

Dean Grey said...

I hope you are right, Carolina!!


Pilgrim said...

I hope it too, that good things will happen for you, Dean. Propz Pilgrim

Tracey Clarke said...

Dean, I am sorry you were laid off. Why don't you relax this weekend and paint?..Maybe have coffee with a friend. Don't isolate.
Monday get up, take a shower, have breakfast, get dressed like you are going to work and begin your new job of finding a job. How about somehting in the arts? A gallery? A museum or theater?
Keep us updated...

Dolores said...

I think we all hope good things in the future for you, Dean. I'm glad you had a safe, quiet haven in a big busy city. Great photos.
Any art coming our way?

Kathleen Coy said...

Every new adventure has to have a beginning... :-)


Meeko Fabulous said...

Dean, I will keep you in my thoughts. There are great things in store for your future. :)

Dean Grey said...





I was planning on doing just that!

I'll spend the weekend painting and drawing and just trying to relax.

And when next week rolls around the job hunt begins!



More art will be coming soon!






Thank you as well!


I appreciate everyone's words of encouragement so far. It's nice to know I have a mini support system out there in the blogosphere!


Anonymous said...

Oh gosh, I feel for you. I'm sorry about the lay-off. I can relate, work was my complete identity and when that was taken from me (burnout, not laid off)...I felt lost. But it is true that things will get better and some wonderful opportunity is just around the corner. It could be something very exciting! I wish you all the best Dean!

Anonymous said...

It sounds as if you did gain a lot from your job, although there was much that you disliked. Perhaps it was time to go - so that you can increase your gains.
I do hope that another job comes up for your soon. In the meantime, keep posting and do some art.
Lots of folk are thinking of you and wishing you well.

naturgesetz said...

It is sad to have to leave behind something that was important to you, even if it had its difficulties. It was a loss, and it was natural to grieve it.


Good luck on your search to find a new source of income — hopefully something related to your art, but at least something you can enjoy and that pays well.

Hang in there, buddy.

Dean Grey said...


I appreciate the well wishes!



I hope so too!



I'm hanging in there....or at least trying to!


Thanks to you three for the encouraging words!


Gwen Bell said...

Dean, I'm so so sorry. Your post is so moving and so well written. are a wonderful Photographer.
Tracey said it best and had a great suggestion to find something Art related even if it's being a tour guide in a Museum or working at Michaels (where you can get discounts on your supplies). I think you'll find just being able to rub shoulders with something you love will give you encouragement. Pragmatically, I know it's just good to find a job of any kind right now which I know you will accomplish because you have a good attitude and determination.

Manon said...

I'm sending you positive thoughts Dean! Another door will open for you!!
Good things will happen!!

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

" And now I fear, almost 2 1/2 years later, that I'll fall right back into it. "

N.O. No, Dean. You will not. Now you have your art and your blog friends to help buoy you. And you're older. And you have work experience. And you will look FORWARD, because that's what you do. You have to work out your unemployment/money situation, but any compromising you may have to do know that it's TEMPORARY. And you're young - this time will be a memory sooner than you can believe. You're creative and able, and you need to stay strong. Sure, let yourself feel bad for a couple of days, then - POUR yourself into your art. We'll be here for you....

Doomed But Cheerful! said...

Dean, I am SO sorry that this has made you weep, and caused you such upset - not to mention the financial side of things. I am glad you plan on picking up on Monday. Another way to look at it is that you are now a self-employed publicist, and your first client is YOU! It has taken me a bit of a while to get back into work, so I sympathize with you right now. However, you have a number of great advantages, not least being your talent, and your humanity.
Good luck in the search. G =]

Dean Grey said...


I appreciate the kind words.

I'm definitely gearing my job search towards more art related things first.

Only time will tell if I find something.



Thanks for the positive thoughts!



I appreciate the determined response from you!

I do keep trying to tell myself that this is all temporary but sometimes you want to make things move RIGHT NOW!


Doomed But Cheerful!

So that kind of makes me an entrepreneur then, right? *(~_^)


I appreciate the supportive comments from all of you!


Paula Villanova said...

Hey Dean, believe me, you will be just fine! I've been through it myself twice with one major downsizing and the closing of our center and I know SO many others who have been affected by this bum economy. But you know what? I'm just fine, life went on, I'm back at work, and who knows? The initial shock is just that, but you'll move on. Anyway, use this time to create some don't often get this kind of time to paint! Best of luck, you're in very good company and while it may not seem like there's alot of them around, there are other jobs out there, and you might find one that really works well for you.

Dean Grey said...

Thank you, Paula!

I do realize I'm not the only one being hit by the current economic situation.

You're right about having more time to draw and paint too. I guess that's one positive.

I appreciate you wishing me luck!!


Unknown said...

Dean it is so hard to lose one's job. In the old stress scale that loss is up there with death, divorce and serious illness.

Take care of yourself for us so we'll have you around for a long time to come. I KNOW good thing are coming your way. When one door shuts, another always opens. Keeps visiting all your posts from your friends and believe in yourself as we believe in you! HUGS!!!

Dean Grey said...

That's very sweet of you, Sheila!

Funny you should mention death because after I lost my job I had to go into a state of mourning. Now all of a sudden I was without that daily routine I was so familiar with.

I appreciate the support!

HUGS back at ya!!!


Unknown said...

My second-worst job experience was having to lay off everyone including myself when my department's product was sold. My worst experience was having to keep my latest department going over a year during a very bad time knowing that I would be replaced and forced to retire once everything was resolved.

Dean Grey said...


That sounds rough. Don't know how you did it.