Step 2 in the “2 Steps to Civvy-dom” program (that actually has a few more little steps to go)
Wowsers! What a day! 12 June 2012 – the day the RAF confirmed that they were happy to let me go! Those of you who have read my previous posts will know that earlier this year the latest round of the Armed Forces Redundancy Program was announced and the Photographic trade was well and truly in the firing line, with an initial requirement for 25 photographers to go.
Initially I (who if you cut me through the middle I would have “RAF” written through me like a stick of rock) hadn’t even contemplated that there could be a life outside of the RAF this side of 2027 (the year I WAS due to leave the RAF). But once they announced it, the idea of volunteering for Compulsory Redundancy grew on me and I applied. For many reasons really, most of which I won’t go into here as I’ve waffled on about them enough in earlier posts https://rafphotog.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/should-i-stay-or-should-i-go-now/ and https://rafphotog.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/step-1-in-the-2-steps-to-civvy-dom-program/
So that all brought me to this morning, around 8.05, pretty much as early as my boss was allowed to call me into her office and hand me the cream envelope and let me read the contents. I’d pre-warned her that there was likely to be tears and to have tissues on hand, and I’d brought some of my own. I’ve got this reputation, I think from when I was teaching, that I’m a tough old bird, and people sometimes are surprised when they see me cry. But the truth is that I’m a soppy, emotional cow, with the breaking strain of a soggy kit-kat when something hits me. Pathetic really!
Back to this cream envelope, it was pretty thick with a wad of paper in there, and when I opened it and read the important sentence, which they’d put in bold that says “you have been selected for compulsory redundancy” the waterworks started! Not because I was gutted to get it, but more that it signified the end of what has been an awesome career. But also tears of happiness as I’ll be actually able to live with my husband, something that I think some “normal” couples who get to come home to their significant other on a daily basis, might not appreciate. If you’re lucky enough to see them every day, you are so, so lucky – and in a few month’s time, I will be too!!!! Yaaay!!!
Once I’d got over it and signed the acceptance letter I headed back round to the Photo Section where I work to tell the guys that unfortunately (or maybe fortunately – they might be glad to see the back of me!) they’re going to be getting a new sergeant sometime in the near future. I’m gutted for them really, they’ve just had to get used to me and then I’m off, but I’ve enjoyed working with them, they’re a good bunch and whoever replaces me will have a good section there.
The next step was to call Mr Photog, who, over the past few months, has done a great job of hiding just how desperate he was for me to get the redundancy, because he know how much I love being an RAF photog. I could hear the joy in his voice, so happy that he finally gets his wife home with him, and no longer at risk of going back out to Afghanistan, which was his biggest fear. We’re both also pleased that now I finally know where I stand, we can start planning our future, and start at looking at bigger houses, to replace the small flat we have near his work, for us and the boys to live in full time.
Then there were more tears when I phoned my parents. My dad was in the RAF himself, and they both knew how much my career meant to me, but they also know how much my husband means to me, so they totally understand all the mixed emotions I’ve been having to deal with. But they too were chuffed as it means no more operational tours and no more hours of motorway driving for me and Mr Photog.
Soon all the phone calls started, from others who had applied, to find out who had got what, so soon the word was around that less people got it in the photographic trade than first thought, so at least there was some positive news. Facebook has been going crazy this evening! Overall across the RAF there was a larger percentage of those who applied, than those who didn’t that got it. I think more than 70% of the personnel who got redundancy had applied, much better than the last round of redundancies a year ago.
After a morning of letting it all sink in I went along to a Resettlement Brief, to find out all the important information, like what courses are available to help me train for promotion to civvy, what assistance is there with getting on, paying for and getting to said courses, and the most important this, how much leave will I be entitled to??? In theory, with all the leave allocated for training courses, what’s left of my annual leave, and the additional leave allocated before termination (sounds so final!!) it looks like my last day in uniform could be somewhere around September/October time, with my exit date being 11th December 2012.
Wow. I’ve only got a few months of tying my hair in a bun and putting on the funky blue/grey gear and bovver boots, and having to wear headdress on a daily basis. No more saluting. No more getting gassed in the “respirator Testing Facility”. No more worrying about my dodgy knee not coping with the fitness test.
Plans for the future? Well, no concrete ideas yet, just a few things I’m considering, the main one being maybe go to university for a 1 year full time Film/TV production course that I’ve got my eye on, followed by either trying to get into the broadcast business, or teaching – either photography or video, not sure yet. I’m lucky in that I’ve got options, and I’ve also got a wonderful husband who will support me in whatever I choose to do.
Whatever I do, the future is definitely bright, the future is no longer blue – but I think it might be pink J