I don't feel any different so far. I suspect it will start sinking in after a week, when I realize I'm not just on vacation, I don't have to go back to work! Or as Cousin Shane put it, I won't have the "anvil of a job" hanging over my head.
Yesterday, I had a nice chat with Dr. K., our pathologist in charge of Micro. He's such a nice guy and said some very nice things. He said he asked my manager if she thought I might want to continue working as a teacher--be involved in training, etc.--and she said no, probably not. When I talked to my manager about it, she laughed and said she was pretty sure I just wanted to be done. She was right! I also had my evaluation with my manager, so I'll get a retroactive raise of 3%, and as my manager said, every little bit helps! We both had a chuckle when we got to the part for goals for the coming year. She said, "I think this is the first evaluation I've done where I didn't have to enter any goals!" She also said some very sweet things, and said that she is so happy for me.
When I got in that morning, she had posted a thing to celebrate not my retirement, but my transition from an exceptional tech to a master gardener. Ha ha! It was so cute and so sweet. She brought in a carrot cake, so that was a nice tie-in! So I did pretty good all day long, just a few verklempt moments. Teresa and I had a fun chat doing Vitek setup, and some good laughs, and that was just what I needed. Then Jillian came in at 3 PM, and she was totally crying! She wasn't just teary-eyed, she had tears running down her cheeks...and that was that. I didn't break down sobbing or anything, but never managed to pull myself together again. Everyone was so sweet and so kind--there were many hugs, and tears, and I'll never forget all the kind things people said. I got some cute cards with wonderful things written inside, and we had some laughs, too. My supervisor said, "It doesn't usually work this way, that someone leaves and everyone is in tears!" I said, "I bet most people who leave aren't in tears, either!" Jeez, what a great bunch of people, and what an excellent department. Dr. K. asked me what I thought of the department in general, and I said it's excellent...I told him that I've worked in other labs, good labs, but when I got here, I was blown away by the quality and the opportunity for learning. I've seen so many positive malaria smears (lots of missionaries in the area) and such a wide variety of organisms, parasites, and other creepy-crawlies, that I know I've learned more in the past 10 years than I did in the previous 15. It's also a challenge, and I said that if you can make it in this Micro department, you can make it anywhere. We're the New York City of Micro labs! Ha!
So I cleaned out my locker and I was off. What an odd feeling to walk out of the building and realize it was the last time I'd be doing that, at least as an employee. Excuse me...ex-employee! After the fond farewells, I had yet another in the parking lot. I turned in my parking tag to one of the security guards--he is such a nice guy, and we always exchanged greetings, whether he was there in the morning, or when I left. I said it was my last day, and he asked if I was going somewhere else. I said nope, just retiring, and he wished me luck. I shook his hand and thanked him for always having a smile for me, and that it always made my day. He said, "Thank YOU. You were one of the few who always waved and said hi, and I really appreciate that." The entire day was a wonderful reminder that "in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." I'm so glad my parents raised me that way, and I'm so grateful that I left what I believe was a "positive footprint." To continue this little lovefest, here are a few more pictures. We'll start off with a critter.
Here is our resident tapeworm. I don't recall if he was a beef or pork tapeworm, but he was a beauty. It's rare to get an entire tapeworm like this. Usually you just get segments, or proglottids. They can get pretty long, 3 feet or more. You get this from eating infected meat...thank God for the USDA inspectors!
Like I said, this is a rarity, and one of the cool things I've gotten to see here that I never saw anywhere else. I've also seen one case of cysticercosis (also related to tapeworms, but caused by ingesting a different stage of its life cycle), which is extremely rare in this country. (I believe that the patient was a Bosnian farmer who had moved here.)
What a great place for learning!
Moving on to my human friends....
This is Aubrey. She started out as a lab assistant while she was going to school, and after getting her degree and doing her clinicals, she is now a technologist. (A categorical, but we don't hold that against her. She'll get that joke!) Aubrey is such a hard worker and quick learner, and while WE all know it, I don't think she's quite figured out yet just how smart, pretty, and strong she is. But she's young, and I have confidence in her that she'll eventually see in herself what I saw in her as soon as I got to know her better.
Aubrey always laughed at my silly jokes, too, so that was one more reason to like her. :)
Here is Sarah, who has no problem having her picture taken! Sarah was also one of our students, and I'm glad she stuck around, because she's very good at what she does. She's also a fellow "shorty," so we grumbled about how the place discriminates against short people. For whatever reason, she loves "The Brady Bunch," so we'd talk about our favorite episodes, and I loaned her my book Growing Up Brady by Barry Williams (Greg Brady). Isn't it odd sometimes at the different interests people have? It's surprising how you end up connecting with someone...the Brady Bunch?! Ha!
Sarah doesn't look old enough to have 2 kids, but she recently had a little boy. Her stories about her daughter and new baby are always interesting and hilarious!
Speaking of Gregs, here's Greg again. I know I've already written about him, but he was not pleased with his previous picture, so I think he'll like this one better. (There's a story behind the first picture, but it involves a tragedy, so I won't go into it here.)
One thing I didn't mention about Greg is how I get such a kick out of his laugh. I don't know if you can legitimately call it a "chortle," but it's close. It's just a very genuine laugh, and it always makes me laugh harder. Our conversations often take a weird turn, and we had one of those yesterday. We went from talking about celebrating with champagne to how awful champagne hangovers are to tiny gnomes knocking on your shrunken brain with ball-peen hammers. And we both agreed that "ball-peen" is a funny word, and fun to say.
There are others who I didn't get a picture of, whether due to time constraints or different shifts. I'm happy to have worked with you all, and I'll miss everyone!
Ken and Sheeba and I are enjoying a quiet, rainy morning. I hope it's an enjoyable day in your neighorhood!