When the smoke gets in my eyes…

Last evening, I went to a bar for the first time in well over a year. It was a celebration of the retirement of my co-worker, Karen. This woman is a hoot – she’s 62 and is now going to embark on a new career – that of an anti-war protestor! While I would probably never participate in an organized protest, I respect my former colleague for being passionate enough to take a stance.

I seldom drink, my tolerance to alcohol much lower than it was in my college days. (Somehow, over time, my hollow legs have become solid!) I typically find myself feeling drunk after consuming just a few sips of a drink. Friday night, in the span of just a few hours, I had swilled 3 gin and tonics. And they were good.

Too good.

Surprisingly, I awoke this morning feeling fine. Actually, too fine. Most Saturdays I awake feeling like I’ve been hit by a speeding bus. I blame work. The stress starts Monday morning and builds to a shrill crescendo by Friday afternoon. Rinse. Repeat.

But today, I feel good. Maybe it’s because I enjoyed the company of the folks at the bar last evening. The group consisted of my immediate colleagues, sans the ones who cause the stress and a few of the pantywipes who insisted that they had to go home to their wives/husbands and children. These were MY people… All of us are passionate about our work (even though it will never herald a cure for cancer or AIDS or even the national debt), care about the welfare of eachother (and fear for the day management decides to let one of us go in the name of ‘cost savings’ which we all KNOW means BONUS at year-end for them) and truly worry about the future of the company that we’ve all stood by through thick and thin. It was a great vent-fest. And as the saying goes, what comes out at the bar, stays at the bar!

So they’ll be no gossip.

Which is OK. I wouldn’t want my snarky comments to get repeated. Although I do secretly suspect that one of the managers there took back the juiciest of the comments and told his boss…

But, who cares?

Sure the truth hurts – and it might leave us unemployed. But there are worse things than that. Really – getting away from the poisonous atmosphere at work would probably do us ALL a great deal of good. Some of us just need the push to our backsides to take the plunge into finding a new job. Or Father Time does it for you and you’re suddenly thrust into a new world of unemployment after punching the clock for almost 50 years…

So here’s to Karen on the eve of your new life:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

(Traditional Irish Blessing; origin unknown,
although some attribute it to St. Patrick.)

Best of luck always, dear friend. We’ll miss you every day.