Leaving Sussex (best colleagues ever)6 min read
For a new chapter to begin, an old chapter must come to an end…. but what an ending it was!
This blog post summarises the absolute mayhem, joy, and bizarre hilarity that was my final week working at the University of Sussex. It was one of the most unexpectedly creative (and/or disturbing) events that you could ever hope to participate in, thanks to the best team of colleagues you could ever wish to work with.
Some of this may seem weird to the passing reader but…. trust me, it’s all highly personal and deeply appropriate (and still makes me well up slightly when I think about it).
My colleagues described it as the “Festival of Leaving” and it was a truly spectacular festival (eat your heart out, Glastonbury – you need to up your game!).
So… without further ado – here’s what went down in my last week working in university administration.
Monday – the Festival Begins with a Crime Scene
When I arrived at work on Monday morning, our office had received a makeover.
I don’t even make that level of effort for Christmas – there were lights, makeshift bunting, a crime scene across my desk – it was quite a sight to behold. The crime scene relates to a self-appointed “anti-corruption” unit we set up within the uni to investigate dodgy goings-on.
After unceremoniously cutting through the crime scene tape, I was left to get on with some work*
*well, at least half-pretending to do some work even though I had already checked out mentally by that point!
Tuesday – Team Breakfast
The second day of the festival was a little more toned down, with a highly productive “working” breakfast at the Student Union bar. The guy who took our breakfast orders was either struggling with maths, or thought we were serious over-eaters, as three people somehow ended up with four breakfasts and five hot drinks.
When our excessive piles of food arrived, there were some dubious “vegetarian” sausages which we politely asked him to double-check (see the meme below).
We rounded off brekky with a traditional “squeeze your boobs together” photo opportunity.
Wednesday – The Tiernan project
The mid-point in the week carried on the momentum wonderfully with something of a… ahem… creative arts initiative dubbed “The Tiernan Project”.
It went like this: each staff member in our office was given a slip of paper with one of my features written on it (e.g. left ear). We then had a few minutes to produce a reasonable facsimile of that body part in whatever manner they felt appropriate.
Some of the body parts were totally accurate while others were more…. err…. avant garde.
Once we had finished, the individual drawings were compiled into a full picture of my face, torso and…. hat.
I was so impressed with the masterful artwork that I decided to use this as my official work profile picture (which has yet to be taken down, so you might still be able to see the live version online, but I saved a screenshot below for posterity).
Thursday – Find the Matt Bingo
When Thursday came around, I thought there could be no possible way to top the oddities of the week so far…. how wrong I was!
Based loosely on a game I devised to embarrass a senior colleague, we took part in an office hunt for various pictures of my face – which were all cunningly hidden in awkward places around our workplace.
There were nine photos in total, which each had a title, and everyone received a bingo card to mark down where they had found each picture. I’ll let readers match up the titles to the images, but the full list was:
- Hitler Matt (a.k.a. Dictator Matt)
- Red Matt (a.k.a. Tipsy Matt)
- Hookah Matt (a.k.a. Pot Matt)
- Renaissance Matt (a.k.a. 17th Century Matt, a.k.a. Musketeer Matt)
- Barnham Matt
- Flat Cap Matt
- Vampire Matt
- James Blunt Matt
- Photo Frame Matt
The hunt was thrilling, with a suitable amount of competitive behaviour and score-checking throughout the day. When someone found a new picture and overtook another colleague, there was plenty of smugness and gloating which spurred us on to find more!
Some poor bastards actually had meetings and stuff, which cut into their hunting time, although a few dedicated individuals spent the majority of the day turning the office over to find those last missing photos.
It all got a bit much for me, so I took a couple of small rests on the office floor to recover from all the excitement. I am pleased to say that I proved myself to have the least work to do that day and found all nine photos before my colleagues (with only minor hints from a totally impartial organiser). I mean…. who hides photos inside a set of window blinds!?! Truly devious!!!
Friday – Last Day Shit
Then came the finale…. my last day…. which was of course a pile of shit.
As another callback to previous working memories, my desk was decorated with some fantastically-lifelike turds on my desk. To explain, a couple of years earlier while working in a different office, the plumbing in the ceiling malfunctioned spectacularly and caused actual poop and wee wee to rain over our desks. Yep. That was a thing that really happened.
The arrangement placed on my desk for my final day was perhaps less smelly (and certainly less hazardous to health) but it still made my eyes water. To top it off, there were some appropriate photos covering my computer, along with balloons which conveyed my colleagues’ thoughts on the matter.
We then had a delicious lunch at the student bar, and enjoyed some choice photo opportunities around the campus (playing as receptionist, student protester, and the mandatory graduate-photo-on-the-Sussex-sign).
The afternoon proceeded with a version of “This Is Your Life” expertly hosted by my incredible line manager (with a powerpoint presentation expertly crafted by my tech-savvy colleague Esme). It was an emotional rollercoaster, with quotes and photos supplied by dozens of friends across the 4.5 years of my life well-spent at Sussex.
Thank you to everyone who contributed, and I’m not ashamed to say that I nearly burst into tears at several points during the show. To distract myself from all the feels, we had a quick traditional game of Hovedbasket in the Sussex House Committee Room.
After work, we went out for faaaaaaaar too many drinks in some of our favourite Brighton drinking establishments. I won’t post pictures of the night to protect the dignity of everyone involved (myself especially), suffice it to say that we were given a wonderful send-off.
Seriously, I could not ask for a better/weirder/funnier group of colleagues, who I will miss dearly. I almost want to get re-hired, just so I can leave again and see what they come up with!*
*almost, but not quite enough
What a week!