Last Sunday’s post was about retiring and I originally had planned to include the retirement reception hosted by my office. But it was such an “over the top” extravaganza that I decided it needed its own post for me to do it justice. As I told them, I’m not easily impressed but I was impressively overwhelmed by their send off.
Since Vegas is my second home, that was the reception theme. The room and tables were appropriately decorated. (And of course I took a few props as… “sue-bee-neers.”
Debbie, the Most Exalted Coordinator of the event, is a good baker. She baked a special Philippine treat for me and also one of my favorites: peanut brittle. And she also presented me with another favorite: a homemade fruitcake.
During the reception, a “Life of Steve’ slide show ran continuously. Even the slide show had a Vegas theme.
Normally, these retirement slide shows focus on work life. But I had shown some co-workers a webpage from my high school alumni website which included a photo from my “big hair” college days and that website page was passed on to the slide show creator to harvest. So I was as surprised as everyone else that the slide show included the photo as well as other photos from my “youth.”
Then, it was time for the “war stories.” Co-workers, former co-workers and consultants (some of whom had e-mailed the stories since they could not attend) regaled the audience with tales going back as far as when I started in 1993. At least twice, I provided an illuminating “prequel” to the story.
After the stories, it was time for presentations. My boss presented me an impressive “30 years service” plaque. It’s going up at the entrance to my computer room so I’ll see it every day.
What really surprised me were a T-shirt and beer mug emblazoned with a “Know Your Rights” poster that is on all our infrastructure project sites. Our federally funded projects require construction contractors to pay their workers “prevailing wages” determined by the U.S. Department of Labor. The poster summarizes that requirement.
For the 20 years I was in the program, I trained all the new project managers in the “prevailing wages” requirements. So the poster was modified to identify me as the “Most Exalted High Potentate” of this program component. I’ve already worn that T-shirt! (My name and exalted status are centered in black below all the blue text.)
There were lots of other goodies, including an M & M dispenser that a co-worker “retired” with me.
I also received all sorts of mementos of the reception. The slide show presentation (electronic and “hard” copy of each slide printed out and placed in a photo album) as well as dozens of reception photos. So I can relive the day whenever my memory needs a little help.
I wondered if my retirement would sink in during the reception but it didn’t happen. It did seem a bit surreal though because I’d attended many other retirement receptions but this one was mine. Even walking out the door the last day, knowing I’d never return as an employee, didn’t have any particular effect.
Maybe it was because I had already retired “psychologically” and this was just the “formality.” Even after 30 years, I’ll miss the “action” even if I don’t miss the job. And I’ll miss the camaraderie, although I do plan on lunch with my cohorts when possible.
After 30 years, it was time to say goodbye…Vegas- style!