My life collapsed when the redundancy letter arrived. The office had been full of rumours. The line manager had a ‘confidential’ Friday afternoon meeting and asked for ‘total loyalty’. She intimated our jobs were safe and it was important not to talk about the information which came to our department.
One of the sales-team told me to look for another job ‘You’ll be trouble if you leave it too long. Sale are plummeting; the products are old and too expensive. I’m leaving to become a driver, same money fewer problems’.
The worst thing was I did not listen to Mike. I’d known him for years, a reliable and hardworking employee. He’d never been the top salesman; he’d been with us for years. Plenty of salesmen had come and gone; he was a company Oracle: Have a problem? Ask good old Mike, he knew everyone, remembered every contract.
While reading the letter I thought about Mike’s words. I had not listened to the message, had I done so, my feeling would not have been wounded. Upset turned to anger, with other realisations. The notice was typed by someone known to me and management had had the letters typed in a different department so we’d keep on working at our best. I really felt betrayed, people I thought I could trust, had let me down.
Fourteen years of work, one month’s notice and a few thousand pounds offer. I should have listened to Mike, although not to leave the firm, as I would have to have stayed to collect the ‘pay off’. The reason I should have listend to Mike was the lies and betrayal by someone I considered more than a collegue:
On Monday morning, I spoke to the line manager ‘You lied to everyone in the office. Demanding loyalty and betraying every one of us’. I understood her action, I’m not a fool, but it still hurt. I had to ask ‘Are you being made redundant?’ I knew the answer. I also knew that if I spoke to my doctor, he’d sign me off sick for the rest of the month. I left on Thursday, after phoning in ill and sending in a copy of the sick note. I took my redundancy and reviewed the future.
A decision to forward pay six months mortgage with some of the redundancy payment gave me breathing space. My brother had returned from working in Germany, so he was left to look after my small home. I bought some hiking clothes and a rucksack. At Kings Cross, I purchased a one-way ticket to Newcastle. Arriving late afternoon gave me enough time to find a secondhand bicycle, and after an overnight stay in a small hotel, my journey began.
Lindesfarne is a special place. You cycle over to the island and understand the tide can strand the visitor from the mainland. I had no intention of returning that day. Camping is not allowed on the Holy Island. I had cheese, bread, and water in my rucksack and miles of beaches to hide. A lightweight waterproof sleeping bag would keep me warm. There was every intention of breaking the rules for four nights. On the fifth, I booked into a pub back on the mainland for bed and breakfast. The shower was sublime my clothes dried overnight in the room.
It is surprising how much ground you can cover on an old bike with a few possessions. I travelled along the North-East Coast for over six weeks. Beaches or barns during the week with my sleeping bag. I’d always spend a night or two at bed and breakfast for a bath and to wash my clothes.
I lived on bread, honey, fruit, cheese, occasional cooked meat and water. Enjoying an occasional glass of red and cooked pasta for a treat. After two weeks my weight began to fall, and vitality and energy grew. Water consumption was more than three litres each day. Over the six weeks, I turned my life around. No phone or communication with friends or old colleagues. The only connection was a postcard to my brother every four days; these were to be a record of the experience. (incidentally: he kept them and still treasures them to this day). He says the cards are a record of a transformation.
The question you must ask is what did I do during these weeks? The answer is nothing, other than reading a book and learn about a world I’d never seen. The beaches of North East England can be desolate landscapes. Spend enough time in isolated places, and the mind enters into constant meditation. Yes, you are correct, an English beach is never far from a source of food or water. However, the sand-scapes were as deserts to someone who worked and lived in a great metropolis.
At the station, the bike was put into a storage rack. In the rucksack, a clean well used sleeping bag, the book and padlock and chain used to secure the cycle overnights. The rucksack was tied to the bike frame with a note: ‘All that is needed to transform a life, help yourself’.
On the platform at Kings Cross, my brother awaits. ‘I have never seen you look so well’. Nearly eighteen years later my weight is still the same. I walk to and from work. Spend very little money and have paid off the mortgage and own my home. The weeks in the North – East transformed my life. A few humans know nothing is needed to be content and happy, it is easy to be secure when the requirements are few.
Everyone makes a choice. Every episode has an outcome. The redundancy is seen as the best moment of my life, without it I would not have cycled along the coast. Or read the book: Vernon Howard’s – Secrets for Higher Success.