Perfect to the Penny

At some point in our careers, we may find ourselves part of an obsolete operation, such as a downsizing, business insolvency, or even a single retail store closing.

This can be a time of positive reflection for us, if we “step back” and ponder the good things that have happened, as well as all the new things we have learned.

Such was the case for us, not long ago.

Our store was closing. I could take the time to list all the shoulda, coulda, woulda items that may have made a difference, and perhaps even have saved the store, but at this point, it doesn’t matter anymore. This is written to add human perspective and feeling when considering impending change.

We had already had our last “store meeting”. It turned out to be a barbeque at someone’s home.

Our store manager arranged for all of us to be at the store together for a one hour window of time. He bought everyone a tall fruit smoothie drink and we just sat around and talked and laughed.

Then it occurred to us that this would be the last time all of us would ever be together at the same time again. The store would close, some of us were moving, and we would all go our own separate ways, forever.

We had made efforts to let others know who had worked with us in the past that the store was closing. I had written a poem about the event and had given copies to all who I thought may care. It went like this:

“Remembering When”
Where does one begin?
How does one collect the thoughts
The feelings and essence of an
Era that has come to a close?
To simply put words to paper
Does not convey the yearnings
The hopes and excitement
The companionship and triumphs that
Were waged and won
Individually and as a team
As we strived for the best
In each other and collectively
To make a success of our dreams.
And now, at it’s passing
We reflect on the special times
The sweet times
The personal times of joy and tears
Shared among us, for us and
Because of us for
The essence of life
Was not within these walls
But within the heart
The mind, and the blood
Of those within.
We will always look back
On this time of our lives
With a smile on our lips
Remembering friends
Remembering when….

The reaction was mixed. Some replied, others said nothing. The original manager who had opened the store at the first called and spoke with me. He had figured it would happen, but was surprised when it came so soon. He had appreciated the poem.
Another girl who had worked in the past was shocked when she had received a mass mailing notice sent to our past customer base that we were closing. She came in with her husband one evening to ask if it was true.

Most others have made no response.

I am the only one left who had been there when the doors had opened for the first time. I was there at the birth of hope and opportunity, and now I would be there when they pulled the plug of life support and see it die.

As we sat and talked and joked and fell silent, we knew we would never see each other again. We shook hands, hugged, and the party dispersed.

Without realizing it, I ended up alone to close the store that night. I didn’t know I was scheduled alone on my last night in before the store closed for the last time.

I locked the doors, as I had done so many times.

I counted the register, consciously, for the last time. The cash was right on. It was perfect to the penny.

I made out the deposit and printed up the daily reports.

“Funny”, I mused. I printed up reports for a day when no one had cared to keep track of the hourly sales. It was the first time we had not kept track.

I bagged up the garbage and set it by the back door. I turned off the lights and just stood there for a moment. I would never see this or feel this again.

I carefully punched in my own security code and set the alarms…for the last time.

I picked up the garbage bag to toss in the trash bin outside and opened the door to leave.

I smiled.

It had been fun.

I closed the door behind me, for the last time, and quietly walked away.

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