On Saturday, I will be doing something for the very last time. I'll wake up at 8:00, get in the shower, slurp down a cup of coffee, some Claritin and a multivitamin, put on my uniform shirt and nametag, and drive to work.
Last fall, the first job I landed was at a chain store I'll still call "Unnamed Homogenous Big Box Retailer" (UHBBR). Despite landing a full-time, career-oriented position at another company quickly thereafter, I stayed at UHBBR part-time, and have continued working there on evenings and weekends. Partly because it's helped recoup my spent savings, partly because I felt obliged to a commitment; UHBBR gave me a job at a fair wage when I desperately needed one.
During the last six months, working there on evenings and weekends has been fun, frustrating, often inconvenient, but monumentally rewarding. I've gotten to know my coworkers, my regular customers, and developed a feeling of belonging. There's an intangible feeling of beneficence to be gained from becoming part of something; inside jokes, shared annoyances, team victories.
I'm not leaving UHBBR; on the contrary, I'm sure I would've stayed on until I just couldn't handle the schedule anymore. Rather, my store is one of several lucky locations throughout the Continental U.S. that has been selected for liquidation. As employees, we found out about a month ago, and have been selling down inventory and shipping out everything else since. Some employees are being transferred to other stores, some are taking a severance package. All of us, though, have been impacted in some way.
The situation brought out the cynical side in some people, who've not stopped talking about how much they've hated working there anyway. Other people have been maudlin. Everyone's been scrambling to find other work. For me, it's mostly a psychological blow. This is the second job in less than a year that I've lost. I'm lucky that it's not my primary source of income, and that unlike so many of my coworkers, I've got another job that pays the bills. But it still stings, and still sets me on edge.
In the end, when UHBBR closes, it will be the death of a tiny community. About one hundred people who no longer have a shared purpose in a shared space, and will no longer have each other or the store to depend upon. Lots and lots of people in the world hate UHBBR, and are super-critical of the company on a very macro level. On the micro level, though, like every business, it is made up of people. Real people with real lives and needs, who are now thrust into uncertainty.