Daily Prompt: Exhale

Tell us about a time when everything seemed to be going wrong — and then, suddenly, you knew it would be alright. 

Photographers, artists, poets: show us SAFETY.

Man at work

“A time” does not exist for me. Life is full of surprises and you can never be sure what the future holds. I remember watching this man from my office desk working on the framework of the building. My friend said; take a photo (knowing I always have a camera somewhere ready). Was she thinking that something might happen, did she find it fun to just show a pair of legs balancing precariously on a plank or was she worried about the worker? Who knows, I did not ask, but just took the photo (bearing in mind a Pulitzer Prize for photography perhaps). He survived the day and I still do not know what his head looked like, I never gave it a thought to find out. We people are selfish beasts sometimes. It could have been his last photo, he could have made a wrong step and a film ripe scene would have been constructed (with me as camera woman of course). Rest assured he survived the day.

Did I survive the day, the work, and the job. That is a funny thing. Basically yes, for thirty years I survived it all. Dealing with Letters of Credit from far flung abnormal countries where you had to make sure that the financial situation was not made insecure by an uprising, a financial collapse. Countries in the Far and Middle East (who knows whether their oil rigs will be ignited by an invasion, their president assassinated) making everything insecure. And who knows if the export clerk dealing with the details of the task might make a mistake. Dot an “i” too many, forget the expiry date of her Letter of Credit, even not be able to organise the goods necessary to complete the task. I have known it all, and seen it all, but I survived; more by luck than judgement, perhaps.

It is the things that you cannot control that let you down, but even they might have a silver lining. “Just look on the bright side of life” is a song and sometimes you do not have the choice. Your company needs to take measures for its survival and one day your telephone rings. The personal chief suddenly starts talking about an early retirement and makes an appointment for a few days later. Does he tell you why or how? No, he leaves you with a few sleepless nights and wondering what you have done wrong.

Mr. Swiss tells me that after 30 faithful years doing the job, nothing can possibly happen, but this does not help. The day arrives for my crucial talk. All around me I have been hearing of people being laid off, less work to do and a bad economic situation, so it now seems to be my turn. I did not want to stop working, wanted to finish my last two years until official retirement, but this was not to be. “An early retirement” was the idea. I did not know if it would be all right. A plan was made and informed. There was no choice about saying “Yes” or “No”, I was confronted with basic facts. The company had to save, had to reduce staff and it was my turn. The plan was good, not the perfect solution, if in Switzerland you take an early retirement, just those last two years bring the better pension. On the other hand, to be fair, my company was also fair and I could change nothing. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Two months later I worked my last day in the company after thirty years. Two weeks later my desk was occupied by a young lady, although to be fair she was not new in the company, just moved into another job. And there was I doing what I wanted to do and not what I had to do. Every cloud has its silver lining. I had officially become a golden retired oldie, the financial plans of the world economics and the intricacies of export life were left behind. Who cares if the plane is grounded with the goods, who cares if a country somewhere in the far east has a new government, has a rebellion? Not my problem.

To be quite honest, I did not know if it would be all right for some time afterwards. A new life and can you survive? I needed time to find out, but my discovery was positive. I did survive and found I had more time to work on my Pulitzer/Nobel prize for literature instead of writing stupid statements for Letters of Credit, or composing invoices with all the ornamentations to comply with the L/C regulations. I was now composing blogs, composing photos, working in the garden, spoiling Mr. Swiss (I always spoilt Mr. Swiss and he spoils me as well). I could do my shopping when I wanted to, make plans without having to check back with the company. I could take a few days off – no, wait that is. Living as a retired golden oldie, there are no longer holidays, you are permanently on holiday. Even housework is just occupational therapy, something to do to fill in time.

Suddenly you know it will be OK. That is an overstatement. I am now in stage three of life, and we all know what that means, but keep your head up. At least you know what the future holds, more or less. I am not sure about the less bit, but who cares, che sarà, sarà (in the words of the famous Doris Day).

Daily Prompt: Exhale

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