Well, that’s that. I’ve finished the Day Job. It is heartbreaking in a way, exciting in another, numbing overall.
I nearly cry on my way into work. Silly, really – I won’t stop making this walk; bar a few modifications, it’s the same walk into town I’ve made since I was 11.
But the end point will change, of course.
I won’t fumble for my keys halfway up the cobbled street, grimacing as I notice the time, letting myself into the ancient terraced building.
I won’t hit the kettle with a wooden spoon until it opens, make a coffee (or two, if the cleaner is in) and gingerly ascend the ridiculous stairs.
I won’t sit down at my laptop and smile as I remember what I’d achieved the day before or, more commonly, roll my eyes as Past Me’s mess flashes up on the screen for Present Me to deal with. Past Me is such a prick.
I won’t spend eight hours wading through an infinite amount of work – insanely varied work, for someone hired as a journo – hitting an obstacle and learning to code something cool, legitimately falling down a rabbit hole of obscure research, working out a spreadsheet to minimise the boring parts of the job.
I won’t be able to ask weird questions across the table or into the next room. What is the difference between “abuse of privilege” and “corruption”? What was Israel like in the 70s? Can you think of a good synonym for “arbitrary”? How much of Africa built legal systems from Common Law? How does our political system work? Wait, say that again, slowly… no, I still don’t get it.
I find it very hard to get it through my head that, no, I won’t “finish this bit off tomorrow”. I’ve always had a bit of an issue coming to terms with things ending. This might be the longest thing that I have ended.
I don’t leave myself enough time to wrap up. Obviously.
I spend most of the day finishing a tool I started building four years ago. It’s actually really, really good. But it means I spend the last hour rushing to unhook my Google Drive, set up email forwarders and so on. I only just register, as I turn off the light in the office, that it’s an important moment.
We go out for an after-work drink, the three of us, as we so often have. Mine’s a Diet Coke these days. It used to be way too much cider. J&J are still on IPA and prosecco, respectively.
They give me a beautiful bracelet and tell me it’s to help me remember them in 30 years. I don’t think I’ll need help. You don’t forget people like this.
We’re due to meet up for a more appropriate ‘sorry to see you go’ meal tomorrow night, but I still get emotional when we say goodbye; as do they.
I’m glad the puppy is around. When I get home I feel flat, but the little wagging menace is enough to bring me back to life.