Matchmaker, matchmaker or Cutting the (safety) rope

Fat news on the paid work front: I officially have none. Bye bye, shalom, au revoir, arrivederci, tata, sayonara, adios, ciao, so long Ontario Government.

I’m almost not a civil servant anymore. (Not that I’ve always been civil, but I was a dedicated servant for over 20 years.) Will the people of Ontario feel the loss? If they haven’t noticed my absence over the past two years, I suspect not. But I’d like to think I made the tiniest difference mucking about in women’s equality, not-for-profit internet projects, patient safety and maternal child health. Who wouldn’t?

I feel better calling myself a writer than a bureaucrat so I will try not to compare developing legislation for hospital reporting of infection rates with writing about my naked proclivities, and why Lena Dunham and I are so alike. Making a difference can take many forms, right?

I got a package last week. Just in time for Hannukah. It didn’t come with shiny wrapping or bows but it may as well have. I’ve been severed. And while it feels a bit these days like it’s my head from my body, it translates as being paid to leave the Ontario Public Service. My request.

I sat for over a year on the voluntary exit list waiting for someone else to get laid off so I could take their place and they could have my old job. It seemed like a win-win sure-thing given the Premier had made public commitments to reducing the size of our bureaucracy. (Sure it’s emotionally complicated when good personal things come from global economic disasters, but I figured I’d reinvest in the economy by using a chunk of my package for therapy to process that.)

Meantime, nothing happened. Months passed and my match made in heaven didn’t materialize. I asked for another year’s leave without pay and was told that the Government was not in the business of providing safety nets. So I was to shit or get off the pot. (A strange expression. Don’t we usually shit and get off the pot? And If we’re sitting there, it’s usually because we’re having a hard time – rarely because we’re hanging out, taking advantage of the comfort, reading War and Peace and wanting to finish before getting up.)

I was on the verge of announcing my return to work, determined that quitting and getting a severance payment equal to a cheap watch or a gift certificate that if I was lucky would get me six pairs of Jockey underpants at Sears, seemed insulting and financially imprudent.

I sent an e-mail to my director to that effect, without mentioning the underpants, and two days later the phone rang. HR calling to say they’d found a match. I wanted to break into song from Fiddler on the Roof, but instead I started crying. “Merry Christmas” she said. “Or Happy Hannukah, but close enough.” (I thought I lived in a world where Aviva Hannah Rubin read as Jewish but her name was Indira McDougall so I suppose it’s better to keep our assumptions generic and stick with Ho Ho Ho.) I wanted to kiss her anyway. She’d brought the news I’d been waiting over a year to hear.

So here I am. Standing on the edge of the cliff, looking out/down/up at my new precarious, un-insured life, feeling a bissel trepidatious.

Those of you who know me, and anyone who has read the bulk of this blog can almost claim that honour, know that an under(over)-current of anxiety is my drug of choice, so this brilliant news is edged in the shiny glow of fresh stress.

Aside from the to-do list for my Hannukah party, and this blog post, I’ve written almost nothing in weeks.  Please don’t take away my new job title. It’s all I have now.

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