Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Big Reveal

The next few minutes will change everything.

I am in a bathroom stall on the second floor of the Main Library. I adjust my skirt, comb straight my bangs, and make sure there's nothing in my teeth. I give myself a weak smile in the mirror. I am ready to do this. After weeks and weeks of talking it through with my husband, making lists, and setting things into motion, I am going to quit the best job I've ever had.

Let me introduce myself. I'm Hillary, a 35-year old wife and mother and full-time professional. I work in one of the most progressive small cities in the country and am honored to be a branch manager for a terrific library system with an amazing team of colleagues. I worked hard to get here. I've been in libraries for over 15 years, beginning as a work study desk assistant in college and working my way up through various roles - access services, education, reserves, youth services - and various settings - academic, state archives, and public libraries. I've been involved professionally outside of work as well, writing papers, peer reviewing text books, giving presentations, attending conferences, and networking with zeal.

My boss looks up from her computer and smiles. She's on top of things, as usual. Knowing I would be popping by, she has paint chips and architectural sketch-ups spread across her conference table. The fact is, we are in the beginning of an exciting and transformative remodel of my branch library. It's T-minus 11 days until demolition begins.

I set my bags down (I've become such a bag lady as a working mother) and smile uncomfortably. I can see a shift in her eyes. She knows something is coming.

I clear my throat (having just returned to work after bronchitis) and say, "My husband and I have an opportunity in South America that is too good to pass up." I wait for a minute and then go on. "It entails traveling up and down Chile while writing a cookbook."

Her eyes widen and she says "Wow" - almost involuntarily, before cutting herself off and asking -  "Wait, does that mean you'll be leaving?"

I nod. "It does."

She collects herself. "I'm pissed off...but also really happy for you."

My boss never curses so I know that I've really thrown her for a loop. Hell, I've thrown myself for a loop. I can't believe I'm actually doing this!

The conversation moves past her shock and dismay and onto the logistics of both my life-changing move and our community-altering remodel. Despite such heavy news, we need to move on and keep the cogs turning. And, although I'm feeling really shitty right now, I think this is the best outcome I could have hoped for. I'm giving two months notice to assist her with completing the remodel and coach my staff through implementation and acclimatization of the new spaces and accompanying changes.

Tomorrow I have a staff meeting where I will answer any last minute questions and concerns about the remodel and associated staff projects. Tomorrow will also be when I break the news to my staff, a team of genuinely-awesome and hard-working individuals. These guys have been through thick and thin with me over the past two and a half years and have come out on top as a truly cohesive and positive team. And here I go, about ready to throw another hurdle for them to jump. Ugh.

Tomorrow's going to suck.

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