A very upbeat goodbye…

July 22, 2013, 11:28 PM

You may have gotten a hint from the notes in the July 14 photo feature, but this past Friday, July 19, was my last day working at Food & Water Watch.

On my last day, we were having an ice cream social in my honor.  I wanted to make it a celebration of me rather than an emotional goodbye, so I made a slideshow of photos to go through and talk about with the folks gathered.  Many had never seen these photos before, and I was sure that the photos would garner some laughs and rekindle fond memories.

On the evening before my last day, though, I was a bit nervous.  I was somewhat uptight about how my emotional state would be when I finally said goodbye.  I didn’t want to cry on my last day, but I was really afraid that I might.  I even went to far as to post this Facebook status at 1:44 in the morning:

Thinking about my last day at Food & Water Watch on Friday. Wondering how the mood will be when I finally say goodbye, and thinking about it in terms of the ending theme for an episode of Today’s Special. I think it could go one of three ways:

1) A very upbeat end to the day. That would warrant the regular ending theme.

2) A more emotional ending that might have me in tears at the end of it. That kind of end would call for the flute theme that was used in “Butterflies”, “Babies”, “Wishes”, and “Phil’s Visit”.

3) Considering that I have a slideshow with old photos planned, it might be a celebration of days past with mixed emotions of laughter and sadness. For that, I would lean towards the ending theme used in “Memories”, the series’ last episode, which was a continuation of that episode’s final song.

We’ll see how it plays out on Friday, but I’m rooting for the day to warrant the regular ending theme.

I think I’m perhaps the only one who would compare leaving a job to the end credits for Today’s Special.  But hey, it’s part of what makes me special.  And for those not familiar with the tunes, this is the regular ending theme, this is the slow flute theme, and this is the ending theme from “Memories”.

My concerns about not wanting to be in tears at the end of things were well-founded, too.  On my last day at CFW in August 2001, I came very close to tears.  Likewise at the end of the year in 2002 in Potomac Hall.  Close, but I kept the waterworks off.  Food & Water Watch was the longest I’d ever been anywhere, and so who knew how I would react.

But it turned out to be all right.  When it came time for the ice cream social, I had the slideshow ready to go, and everyone enjoyed it.  I even did an encore round of it by popular request, since some people missed parts of it the first time around.  It’s always good to know that there are people out there who think fondly of you.  A coworker took a picture of me during the presentation of the slideshow:

Doing the slideshow
Photo: Jill Pape

There I am.  And there I am.  Note the use of the classic squares background from the website in the slideshow.  I did this on purpose.  I had the squares from June 2008 to September 2012.  So for a little more than four of the six years that I was at Food & Water Watch, the website was in squares.  And since everyone knew about and loved Schumin Web, it made sense to put it into the slideshow.

I think that the slideshow was the absolute right thing to do.  It’s well documented that I don’t particularly like public recognition.  So I took the bull by the horns and tooted my own horn.  It kept things light and upbeat.  However, I wasn’t prepared for what would happen when I finally left for good.  I had left the office for what I thought was the last time quietly, and then laid my stuff next to the men’s room door while I made use of the facilities.  I came out of the restroom, and my stuff was missing.  Turns out that someone had put my stuff back inside the office.  I went in to get it, and then I was surprised about what I saw:

What I was met with when I emerged
Photo: Walker Foley

Going clockwise from left, closest to the camera, you have Meredith, Alex Patton, Jorge, Emily (in the distance), me, Alex Beauchamp, and then Tim.  You may remember these folks from the tubing trip in 2009.

And then here’s a close-up of my reaction:

A close-up of my reaction at the door
Photo: Meredith Begin

Yes, I was met by six of my coworkers outside, ready to get photos of my leaving the office for the last time.  I was both touched and amused by this.  It really made me feel special, but at the same time, I found it quite funny to get this sort of attention.  But it really showed that these were people who loved and respected me, and who would genuinely miss me when I was gone.

Then from there we went out bar hopping to celebrate.  First stop was Drafting Table on 14th Street, which was a pretty decent place to go.  We ordered some food and had some drinks there, however, we didn’t stay too long because their air conditioning couldn’t keep up with the heat.  If it said anything about what the conditions were at Drafting Table, despite the heat index of 100+ degrees outside, it felt better outside than inside, specifically because there was a breeze outside, but the air wasn’t moving at all inside Drafting Table.  However, I did discover what fried pickles taste like while there.  That was an interesting taste, but not one that I would say, “Wow, I’ve got to get that again!” over.

After that, we moved up the street to El Centro D.F., and headed up to the roof deck.  I got a margarita, and we also got another photo:

At El Centro D.F.
Photo: Walker Foley

Left to right, we have Beauchamp, Tim, Jorge, Patton, me, Meredith, and then Walker.  Zach, another (by now former) coworker of mine was also here, though not in the photo, as was Katy, whom you may remember from a few polar bear plunges, and Jill.

Then after this, we headed up the street and then went down U Street, where we ended up at Solly’s.  There, we got an order of poutine, which I got to try for the first time.  I had never tried french fries with gravy and cheese curds before, and it was defintely an interesting flavor combination.  It wasn’t bad, however, noting how many calories poutine packs, it will probably be some time before I try it again.  But that’s one thing to cross off the bucket list, I suppose.  I also got another margarita.  Not bad.

The most amusing moment at Solly’s was when we all did a lemon drop shot.  As I understand it, you’re supposed to lick the sugar off the rim of the glass, take the shot, and then suck on the slice of lemon.  I’ve never been one for doing shots, but just this one, right?  I definitely ended up (unintentionally) amusing everyone with the way I took the shot.  Everyone else did it just fine, but I have never been that fond of the taste of hard liquor, and so after I did the shot, I made some sort of face for about ten seconds before recovering.  Everyone got a kick out of that.

We also played a game called Big Buck World while we were there.  I played first, and you could tell I don’t hunt.  I had the butt of the gun under my arm, and was aiming it upward.  They give you a realistic-looking controller, and I don’t even pretend like I’m firing a gun.  I didn’t do too badly, though, once I got the hang of it.  And then after your three rounds firing at deer, you shot at ducks.  And as someone who was a child during the 1980s, it was like Duck Hunt all over again.  Seriously, I was halfway expecting the dog from Duck Hunt to come out and laugh at me.

Then Patton and Beauchamp played it:

Patton and Beauchamp play

Let’s just say that those guys did way better than me.  But a fun time was had by all, so all was well.

Then after we finished with the game, we got a group photo:

Photo: Jill Pape

I don’t know why I have my eyes closed here.  My guess, based on the big smile, is that someone must have said something very funny.

This was also around the time where fatigue was starting to set in.  I managed to space my drinks out enough to where I never really got all that drunk.  However, fatigue will rob you of your coordination just like alcohol will.  And by this time, I was starting to get tired.  Apparently a few others were, too, as we left Solly’s and headed over to The Greek Spot, which is a little hole-in-the-wall Greek restaurant at approximately 11th and U.  Going in, I spotted this:

Edwards 270A-SPO pull station with GE branding

This is an Edwards 270A-SPO pull station with GE branding.  Had never seen the General Electric logo on fire alarm equipment before.  It’s not the normal Edwards logo (the “E” on a shield), but this isn’t the first time I’ve seen someone else’s logo on an Edwards pull station by any means.  Walker also got a photo of it (with really good detail on the break rod).

The Greek Spot was a great cool-down activity, but a few folks still wanted to hit another bar.  I, however, needed to call it a night, because I was dead tired by this point.  However, before we parted company, and noting my Facebook status from the night before, people asked me which ending theme that I would put on my last day at Food & Water Watch.  Without hesitation, I said that it was the regular end credits theme – just the way I wanted it.  I later followed that up with a Facebook status:

What a great night out with my (now former) coworkers! And the best part: no tears! This was the regular end credits theme all the way.

A perfect evening.  A lot of fun, and no tears.  I will certainly miss the folks that I’ve worked with for so many years, but the time had come for me to move on to the next stage in my career, and move on is what I shall do.

Postscript: Also, on an unrelated note, July 23 marks ten years since the launch of the Journal and the Life and Times section on Schumin Web. It all started with this entry a decade ago. Here's to another ten wonderful years...