The Target diaries: The official 'End of Life' letter

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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.

I quickened my casual stride to stand beside my work colleague and friend. One of her hands clung to her husband's and the other rubbed gently on their young son's tiny fingers. I could sense that she had something to tell me. 

She began her reveal by explaining she had read through her official letter from Target Canada and that it was a difficult document to interpret. I too had received the two-sided communiqué on Target letterhead, along with an insert from the barristers and solicitors and another two-sided paper answering 11 frequently asked questions. I read the bundle out loud to my husband and together we formulated a life-after-Target plan.

I listened to my comrade explain that the liquidators could be possibly taking over our store at the end of January 2015 and some employees could be working until the middle of May. Neither she nor her husband could believe that they'd had the rug pulled from under them. I agreed that either of us could get a severance notice any day. I learnt later that week she had returned home to her "Separation Date" notice.

"I feel like one of our store products that's approaching its end-of-life," I said.

In the context of manufacturing and product life-cycles, EOL is the final stage of a product's existence. Immediately, I felt a pang of hurt stab my heart -- not for me but for her and her husband and their toddler. Her husband looked at me and expressed his anger at the situation with one powerful cuss word.

I nodded my head as the young man apologized for his aggression. I understood their private dilemma. It is true that a great many people live paycheque to paycheque; he and his wife use their income to pay the rent, buy food, pay vehicle insurance and purchase clothes for themselves and their baby. I could sense the frustration pouring out of the man's face and hands as he blew his cheeks out and gripped the shopping cart until he was white knuckled. He walked away with his little son seated in the pushcart.

I reached for my friend's hand and squeezed it into mine. She gave me an endearing smile. We made tentative plans to meet up for coffee one day. I thought that I might not see her for a long while. It is common knowledge that for her, like many others in her predicament, looking for a job is a job. And once she gained new employment her life would rotate around the routine of preparing herself and her baby for a trip first to the child's day care then to her work place. I hoped that her husband's Workers' Compensation application would come through.

I left her at the front door, walked across the floor and up the stairs to the employee-gathering place. The racks of small, bright red lockers gleamed under the fluorescent lights. The Human Resources employees were concentrating on their computer screens. One lifted her head and said good morning. I replied in kind. I shoved my belongings into a cubbyhole and strolled toward the lunchroom. The narrow hallway has several displays mounted on the wall. The most significant is the employee appreciation bulletin board. Colleagues are encouraged to leave notes of praise for one another and everyone can read their well-wishes.

The two tables in the lunchroom are filled with food: cookies, crackers, chips, peanuts and chocolate treats. In one of the refrigerators, there are meats, various kinds of bread and cheese, to be shared by the staff. The chatter amongst the employees, that day, was relatively upbeat. A few had sad faces and tears in their eyes. Once and a while a burst of contagious laughter would fill the room.

In single file, we punched in and went to our workstations, encouraging one another to stay strong.

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

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