Friday, September 27, 2019

A librarian departs

I have seen my share of thorn-in-the-side co-workers retired off. The one who is riding into the sunset this week has been a colleague of mine for every moment of my time here. She has been a low level burden on my workload all along, though the way that burden manifested has changed over the years, almost as if the being burdensome was the point, and whatever path there was to it merely a matter of circumstance. From the relentless family phone calls and urgent messages of the early years to the constant inability to do her job and the attendant requests for help of the later years, I have always been grudgingly helpful to her at best, and she has generally been thankful and apologetic towards me.

In these later years she has physically fallen apart. True to form this has created burdens on everyone around her. She has eschewed things that would allow her to do her job, like a wheelchair or adjusted hours, insisting on a strange, martyr-like pretense that everything is okay. Eventually some things have been forced on her, like the above mentioned adjusted hours (so she doesn't keep all her co-workers an extra 20 minutes after the close of the library), but some she resisted right up until, somehow, she was forced to retire.

I see her farewell card on the table of the staff breakroom. Retirements are unsettlingly often like funerals. And like at funerals people only want to bring out the positive memories.

I don't have any in particular.

And the notes of thanks I read on the card all seem strangely strained. The official intranet announcement of her retirement started:

"It is with mixed feelings I announce the retirement of..."

It was swiftly changed, but it says a lot.

Every time I look at her card all I can think to write is the wholly inappropriate:

"Thank you for letting us all help you so much all these years."

I still have yet to sign it.

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