Wikipedia lists several different ways for a person to become a "non-person."
I'd like to add one.
Give extended notice at your current job before embarking on your new employment.
I'm smack dab in the middle of my three-week notice period at USDA. On Sept. 2, I will begin my new job as a writer-editor, media relations, podcaster at the National Institues of Health.
Just up the road from Washington, D.C., on Wisconsin Avenue, out there in the boonies of Bethesda, my new boss and co-workers are readying my office space, getting the equipment together that I will need to podcast news about clinical trials...
Here on Independence Avenue, I have "ceased to be."
Oh, people still SEE me in the hallway. They smile. They ask questions like, "How many days left, Bill?" They say dumb things like, "Finally got sick of the place, eh?" Or, "Running you off, are they?" Or, "Cafeteria food finally get to you?"
But at the bottom of it all... I'm a ghost. I no longer exist. I'm not part of the "big picture."
I have nothing to do, really, except mark time -- listening to classical music on my PC -- writing blog entries. Other than my regularly scheduled stuff like the Weekly Activity Report (Tuesday) and the occasional Hot Issues Briefing for the Secretary... I'm technically unemployed. Still making that nice GS-13 salary, mind you. But no new projects. Nothing to do.
One of my bosses, a political appointee, said she might talk to some of her higher-ups to see if there were any rush projects they wanted me to do before departing. I suppose that's a compliment. Nothing came of it.
That makes sense, I guess. Why start something that someone else will have to finish? But still...
It wasn't like this when I worked in radio. Most of the time, you didn't even know you were looking for a new job until the program director or station manager called you into the office (usually on a Friday, after your show). Then, he or she would explain that you had been "an EXEMPLARY employee and everyone here just LOVED you, but the station had decided it wanted to go in another direction, and they're terribly sorry because it's nothing YOU did (the business counterpart to the old break-up line, "It's not you, it's ME...") but we just need to make some changes and, gosh, we wish you the best of luck and please feel free to use us as a reference, and, oh, by the way, we'll need your keys."
And while all that was going on, someone was taking all your personal items and putting them in a box to hand to you on your way out the door. As far as the listeners knew, you were "pursuing other opportunities."
Then, on the VERY rare occasion when you WOULD give notice... it was the same thing, only not so nice.
"I see. So, you no longer want to work here. Is that it? Well, let's not wait two weeks. Why don't you just give me your keys and get the hell out of here so we can put someone on the air who DOES want to work here?"
See, program directors and general managers live in fear that a departing employee will say something BAD about the station after giving notice. And they're usually correct.
After awhile, you just stop giving notice. You do your last show, you go find the GM or PD, you flip them your keys and say something clever like, "See ya." Oh, they piss and moan, and they badmouth you on the air... but they weren't gonna give YOU notice... so why should YOU afford THEM a courtesy they wouldn't afford to YOU?
That, of course (and thankfully), is not how things are done in the Fed -- where practically everyone is looking for his or her next job from the moment they begin their new one.
I officially landed my new gig at NIH on Aug. 7 and told my boss the next day. We'll have a little farewell lunch a week from tomorrow.
Between now and then, I will continue to waste electricity and oxygen.
Causes Bill Schmalfeldt Supports
Parkinson's Disease Research
National Parkinson's Foundation
The Michael J. Fox Foundation