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Retirement Luncheon
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The retirement luncheon in my honor was held at a nearby restaurant with a reputation (well-deserved) for excellent food, nice ambiance and great service. I was touched by the fact that my coworkers and friends had, in fact, planned an official send-off.

I don't recommend the restaurant's banquet room for anyone else's celebration, however. The four bare walls without windows, the tables with tablecloths and flatware, no centerpieces, the hollow, echoing sound from the microphone, and most of all the overcooked, dried out buffet foods left a lot to be desired.

Each person got up, in turn, and said a few words. Some had an axe to grind, some were truly appreciative. I've known many of these people for nearly 30 years and their comments and recollections brought back quite vividly those first awful 10 years when I worked under a boss who wanted me to snitch, to write other people's college papers, to falsify data that would bring us more money.

But I hung on, because it was clearly the type of job that suited me down to my toes, and there were people I enjoyed working with: Batty, Walt, Spoon, Braden, Medina. When your skills are challenged and enhanced and your co-workers are compatible, well, then, you can endure a lot.

Of course, being the kind of person who lives much more in the present, I had pretty much forgotten about that part of our collective past until person after person rose to speak of it, remembering me as a teacher and a person who does not suffer fools gladly. Well, that's about right.

Their perceptions that I had done my boss's bidding bothered me, though. Because I had kept my opposition from breaking out into open warfare, they saw me as her patsy. She said that she'd make sure I was never promoted upward, and she succeeded.

It's an ages-old problem: if you don't speak up about wrongdoing, you are tarred with the same brush.

It didn't help that she used me as her chauffeur, dragging me to high level meetings downtown (where I hadn't been invited and wasn't welcome), so that I could drive her there and she be seen as important enough that she didn't have to drive herself. It was embarrassing.

But all that changed when I went out into the field and I could truly enjoy my job. "Soto" wasn't something I brooded over, but I guess other people did.

The years since have been good ones and I never looked back. Until this luncheon. Amazing what people will remember and how much they want to say it, as though it had stuck in their minds all this time.

It is the end of an age for me. Ready to move on.

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