“Is this is a meeting I really need to come in for?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

After a pause, the voice on the other end of the line responded: “Well, there are some changes,” and my suspicions were confirmed. It’s often said that when someone gets bad news they get a pit in the bottom of their stomach. Well, when I got the call that my job no longer existed, what took up residence in my guts felt more like a black hole.

I tried telling myself that I was jumping to conclusions, that I should at least consider the fact that I was making a mountain out of a molehill. Perhaps someone had been let go, and the resulting absence was one they wanted me to fill. Was it so out of line to believe there was at least a chance the powers that be wanted me to fill a possible vacuum? Human beings may have an incredible capacity for self-deception, but on my way into my final meeting with that particular employer, the persistent voice of common sense was shouting over my delusions. From the second I saw the first text, calling me in on my day off with no explanation, I had little doubt it was because I had now officially joined the ranks of the unemployed.

All the right buzz words were present and accounted for; I was a victim of corporate restructuring, it was the way the whole industry was headed, there simply wasn’t room to keep me, I was a good employee and shouldn’t have any trouble finding something else, feel free to use me as a reference etc. etc. In truth, there were signs that things weren’t going well for my then employer in advance of my dismissal; people were moving, locations were closing down and downsizing was becoming an annual ritual. Enough so that I had begun poking around other opportunities and even attended a job fair, but that still didn’t absorb the sudden impact of being handed an envelope with my walking papers out of the blue. I’d been let go of jobs before, and left others of my own satisfied accord, but there are fewer things that can deflate a human being so thoroughly as being laid off from a job you’ve had for nearly a decade.

I wasn’t the only one let go that day and I couldn’t complain about my severance. And the truth is there’s very little about the actual job I’ve missed, and I certainly don’t miss the building itself, where the heat rarely worked properly in the winter, the air conditioning was fickle at best in the summer and the roof leaked all year round. But what I’ve truly missed in the year and a half since, and will continue to for I don’t know how long, is the (occasionally dysfunctional) family I had unknowingly become a part off. The day following my dismissal I was dazed, stumbling around in a cloud of depressed self-pity. It wasn’t until texts and e-mails and Facebook messages began trickling in, offering condolences and expressing sympathy, genuine and sincere messages telling me how much I was going to be missed that I became fully aware of what I had lost. Of what had been taken from me. After years of celebrating birthdays and attending Christmas parties, weddings and even the occasional bachelor party, organizing surprise birthday parties and going away parties, celebrating births and graduations, playing in our annual Good Friday ball hockey game and barbecue and offering a shoulder to lean on and occasionally getting one in return, I had become part of a family. And after one brutal day, one brutal conversation, I was an orphan. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit misty eyed.

“No man is an island,” few truer words have ever been spoken, but you never realize how deep and frightening the oceans that surround you can be when the people who keep the lonely dark at bay are suddenly gone. Last Christmas I was locked so tightly into survival mode as a result of my layoff that the loss wasn’t quite as profound, but this Holiday season I found my thoughts drifting back to my former family again and again. “You never know what you have until it’s gone,” that one is heavy with ugly truth too. So guys, this is my clumsy, hapless way of saying I miss you, and I hope you know how much you meant to me. I’m sorry I never told you how much I appreciated you before, and I hope you can accept this, late as it is.

Killer, Rock Jess Monster and Toya Story, feeling and being treated like your big brother was always an honour, and not seeing you guys on a regular basis gnaws at my insides. Each one of you has a bright, beautiful future ahead of you and all the very best on your nuptials Jess. Meggers, I miss your “I’m just waiting to see what kind of mischief I can get into” smile and Jessus, I miss hearing you squee out loud whenever you encounter something too adorable to bear (and I’m also going to miss being there whenever you say something truly awkward and embarrassing out loud). I’m going to miss how Tweety used to roll her eyes on the numerous occasions I said or did something stupid and I’m even going to miss running for my life from Mongoose; a five foot tall package of cute yet deadly trouble. Miss Amy Ramirez, you’re the only person I know whose looking forward to torturing people with dental tools but I miss you enormously nonetheless (not so much for the case of arthritis you’ve probably given me by your deadly hand slaps, though) and I miss discussing the finer points of pop music, Sugar Mountain, why Chris Phillips should be the Senators next captain and the adventures of mini-mom with Bethers. I miss Brianna’s brilliant smile and beautifully warm heart and how she always found the silver lining in even the darkest storm clouds, sometimes by barely even looking. For some reason I miss the way Lorien made me feel guilty just by looking at me with her expressive eyes and how she could instruct me to crouch down so she could fix my constantly askew shirt collar with just a look. I miss being occasionally stalked by Marcus Aurilious and all the purely stupid conversations we used to waste time with. I even miss being the target of so many of Jessica Ladyhand’s practical jokes, though I must confess that I miss chasing him for his life a little more.IMG_0247

Demona, I miss your evilness more than a little but mostly I miss how you were one of the few who could silence our outspoken Greek friend. I miss my daily debates with Mr. Tim Tebow, on everything from politics to sports to how badly I always seemed to be doing in our annual hockey pool. Samantha B, always, always keep your chin up and remember that you’ve already achieved more through conviction and willpower then most people in their entire lifetime’s. I miss Red Jenn’s spontaneous, shameless public dancing, but like the dynamic duo and Abbot and Costello, Team Shenn is immortal. I’m really going to miss the aforementioned annual hockey pool with all the usual suspects (the three Matts-Mac, Kay and Lengacher-along with Schneids, Rob and the like), and the endless debates we had over trades, penalties and suspensions. I miss Panda’s unsuspecting awkwardness and her iPhone addiction and I even miss Allibama’s Tourrettes Syndrome (at least, that’s what I always figured it was J). Remember Allie, if you ever start smoking again, I’ll tell your mom.

Farmer Slim, you and I put up with a lot and I lost count how often we wound up being each other’s sounding board. And while I sometimes exhausted my supply of stupid jokes (let’s be honest, did I ever have any other kind?) trying to lift your spirits, you lifted mine with your random quirkiness more than you know. And there is not, there never has been nor will there ever be anything wrong with your weight (except that one time). So you don’t get to punch me in the spine or sternum anymore, OK? Amtrack, I miss our debates on movies and science, and I wish one day I could have tuned my emotional radar to whatever frequency you used because seriously, while I could read just about anyone else, you were a blank canvas ninety percent of the time. Trust me, I don’t know how, but that was supposed to be a compliment.

There are plenty that I’m missing, I know. Singuard, Marco, Allie Hill (who ‘s going to bribe you with puppies after saying stupid things now?) Andrew, Luk, Roblieh, Geoff, Tyler, and Katmandu. For some scary reason I even miss Patrissimo’s creepy-yet-can’t-look-away moustache and Piotrovich’s occasional insanity (you and Demetrious are the only originals left now Pete-remember there’s an LCBO just down the street), RyGuy, Cody, Kal, LJ, Nangie, Dantastic and so many more, including my best and favorite customer, Brittany (don’t think your off the hook either Miss Gould, I’m still expecting my autographed copy of your debut CD). I hope to see all of you in the future but am terrified that I’ll lose touch with too many. We had our differences and even occasional arguments, and I know I was an enormous pain in the ass sometimes, but I want all of you to know that it was a privilege to work with you and the hardest part about being laid off was that I don’t get to laugh, bicker, joke and fight with you anymore.

I’ve had to say good-bye to valued co-workers before, their absence stinging, sometimes deeply, and this isn’t the first time I’ve been forced to say good bye to a family (Moose and Charlene will know what I’m talking about) but never so many all at once or without any merciful warning. To those I fear I will inevitably lose touch with, take good care of yourselves and all the absolute best in your futures. For the others who are stuck with me in the meantime, just let me say one thing-thanks for sticking with me a little bit longer.

Love and Respect Forever;

Shayne Kempton

10 thoughts on “FAMILY TIES

  1. natashakm says:

    What about M&M!!! 🙂
    Hope things are looking up for oyu for 2015 Shayne 🙂

  2. Matthew Kay says:

    Dear Shayne, thank you very much for all the kind words. Leaving the family behind was tough and not seeing everyone as much anymore doesn’t make it any easier. I will never forget you. There was never a day that I showed up to work and didn’t smile knowing you were working. In fact it would make many of those shifts a lot better. It really was sad last good Friday not having the ball hockey. And I know this year it’ll be tough again. I would like to get people out maybe that day to play some ball hockey like the old times. I’ll make sure to make an event and we will find a good park to meet at. Take care. Matt

  3. Killer says:

    Wow. This was extremely touching. I miss you 😦 I constantly find myself looking over to DA and wishing you were there making your justin beiber jokes. It really was a family and I miss it all the time. You and your laugh made my day ❤ and nothing can replace that.

  4. Peter Berry says:

    Shayne. Thanks for reminding me how long I’ve been working at BB, you stupid shit.

  5. Amy Ramirez says:

    What a touching article Shayne. You are one of the most caring individuals I know, with one of the biggest hearts. I miss our talks..both serious and funny. I will always be grateful to you for befriending me when I was new and for always finding a way to make me laugh. Peter’s comment killed me! While we are reminiscing here.. I’ll also throw out there that I miss Peter’s cookies!

    Take care Shayne,

    Wishing you all the best this year!

    P.S. I’m accepting patients at Algonquin College. The fee is only $45 for 3 hours of dental tool torture. Let me know when you want to book! 😉

    Xoxo “AMZ”

  6. ottawaedge says:

    Well, according to my dentist I need a cavity filled . . .

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