Exit strategies

This was my last week as an IBM employee. With my termination date just days away, it was time to wrap up my affairs and leave.
I had started cleaning out my desk late last week by going through my file folders and discarding most of the material there, with just a few documents set aside to take home. There were several plastic shopping bags in one drawer, so I began taking my stuff home one bag at a time. By Wednesday of this week, the shopping bags were all gone, so I used the paper box that I saved back in April to take home the last load, which included a couple of larger items (such as my Star Wars wall calendar and the sweater that had hung on the back of my office door). By Thursday morning, there was nothing left in my drawers but IBM’s office supplies, and nothing on the desktop except the computer hardware and my thermal mug, which would stay until the bitter end.
On Thursday, I took a shopping bag to work containing the duplicate docking station and power supply for my ThinkPad that I had used to work from home. These were IBM property, and I returned them. I spent the morning deleting my files from the ThinkPad and uninstalling applications, leaving it in as generic a state as possible for the next user. I also logged on to IBM’s asset management system and did an official asset transfer of the ThinkPad to my manager — he would be responsible for it after my departure.
Friday was my last day. (It was also the summer solstice, suggesting that the layoff was actually a ritual sacrifice of some sort.) I dressed for the occasion: black shoes and crew socks, black slacks with a black leather belt, and a black IBM E-Business logo polo shirt, topped off with a black IBM baseball cap with blue trim. At the office, I spent an hour or so doing a final cleanup of the ThinkPad, deleting all my e-mail and browser bookmarks, and uninstalling AOL Instant Messenger (the simplest way to remove my Buddy List from the machine). While I still had access to IBM’s internal employee directory, I wrote down the e-mail and phone numbers of anyone at IBM I might conceivably want to get in touch with. (Prior to last May, if I needed to contact an IBM employee, I just called Bob and had him look up the information. Can’t do that any more.)
The other members of my team had taken the day off or were working from home, and I had already said my goodbyes over the last several days anyway. There was nothing left to do but meet with Cliff (my manager) to complete the exit process. I locked my desk, locked (but left open) my office door, and went to Cliff’s office. I turned over my ThinkPad to him, along with my desk and office keys, the Diners Club card IBM had issued me (which I never used), and my badge. He had me sign a few documents, gave me copies, and then handed me checks for my severance pay and unused vacation pay. I went back to my office to pick up my briefcase and thermal mug, closed the door for the last time, and rejoined Cliff so that he could escort me out.
In the parking lot, he wished me luck, asked me to keep in touch, and shook my hand before we parted company. Cliff returned to his office to continue his day at work, and I drove away to begin the next phase of my career: unemployed ex-IBMer.

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