The Target diaries: Short and sweet ending

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Canada is facing the biggest private-sector closure in recent history, and 17,600 Target workers will soon be out of a job. An employee of Target Canada is documenting the last days of work at the store during its liquidation.

My final workday at Target Canada is a short four-hour shift. It begins with an announcement by the Leader On Duty that our particular store will seal its doors on April 2 and all stores across our great nation close on April 12. I hear a few of the gathered workers mutter their relief while others sigh with grief over the end of their time at this once-respected work place.

Many of us have become friends, some best friends, who share family events and personal tales with one another. We have mother and son, father and daughter and married couples all working together under the same roof. Birth dates are posted on the calendar at the guest services area and greetings are shared openly and enthusiastically. Some of the workers bring their young children into the store and introduce them to their colleagues. It is a workplace family.

After only two years, the Target family is expected to disperse, but the clever invention of social media allows many of the workers to stay connected. My experience at the department store is unique because it was the first time I had gotten to know my co-workers on a personal level. In my former work as a computer programmer, conversation among the workers was not encouraged; I was isolated in my task back then. Now, on my last day of employment at Target, I enjoy the sweet sensations of love and empathy. I receive hugs and words of encouragement from my colleagues and a few from the guests who have become familiar with our plight.

Losing a job, surprisingly, has its perks. On thing I learned from having family, friends, and co-workers around me was how to recognize and act with courage as I left my job. Although the red carpet was pulled from under me, my balance was sustained by familiar clichés like this one:

"Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today." – Thomas Jefferson.

Conversations in the break room force some of us to think about our next step in life and how to activate our positive attitudes today. I am not surprised at how many folks do not plan to return to the retail industry.

On my way out through the sliding doors that last day, I waved back enthusiastically at my newfound friends and family, swing my red Target satchel over my shoulder and put on a happy face. I am humming Mary Hopkin's song, "Those Were The Days."

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