Monday started out innocently enough. I spent Sunday afternoon whipping up a batch of my favorite cookies (Chocolate Crinkles) for a cookie exchange and farewell party for a coworker Monday afternoon. January was ending on mixed notes for me. Unseasonably warm weather permeated the entire month and into the first few days of February. Yet, on the very last day of the month, I needed to ‘let go’ of a person who I have relied upon and shared more workdays with than any other person on this planet.
As I drove south from Crown Center Monday morning, the sunrise kept teasing me with highlights of pink and orange among the scattered wisps of clouds. I predicted I would miss the prettiest photo opportunities in the ten to fifteen minutes it takes me to drive to the Plaza. Some of the former glory shines through the photo (above) I took with my cell phone as I walked up the outside staircase of the parking garage.
During the noon hour, with the assistance of our department secretary, we decorated our conference room for the cookie exchange and farewell party. Most of the department and many others stopped by to wish Marge well in her retirement and her planned travels around the country to visit her far flung family. Many cookies were consumed and even a speech from our illustrious leader extolling Marge’s sixteen years with the company. We sent her home with several dozen cookies.
Tuesday dawned much the same as Monday did, and doubled as Marge’s final day of work. Our team (well, most of our team), including our manager, planned to take Marge out to lunch at Gram & Dun on the Country Club Plaza. I began to get nervous when our boss failed to show up for work that morning. He did eventually call me, as he was leaving his physician’s office and rushing to the pharmacy to purchase the prescriptions to ease his sinus infection or bronchitis (or both … I didn’t quite catch the entire diagnosis). He called asking me to take Marge to the restaurant, where he would meet us at noon. While Marge and I could have walked to the restaurant, it would have taken at least fifteen minutes to do so, and neither of us wanted to add an additional thirty minutes to our lunch hour, especially when we had so many things to juggle at work. I drove us over in the van.
We enjoyed a pleasant lunch, starting with the Shishito Peppers appetizer. Marge ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna salad with a side of butternut squash (which we all tried). I ordered the quail and our manager had their prime burger and the Brunswick stew. While we waited on our food, I presented Marge with my gift (a giraffe pin – see photo at left) and card as well as the Southwest Airlines gift cards and retirement card signed by coworkers. The food was good, the company better but the memory will be bittersweet for me.
Marge and I returned to the office while our manager rushed to an appointment on the Kansas side. The afternoon flew by and before I knew it my time had come to leave the office. Marge happened to be on the phone doing what she did best when I needed to leave, so I did not get to say much beyond ‘keep in touch’ and ‘goodbye.’
Wednesday brought a new month and a new dynamic at work. Our team had lost a third of its resources. The two of us left had to temporarily bear the burden of the missing third. Even though I went to bed early (around eight thirty Tuesday night), I work up a couple of hours later and tossed and turned the rest of the night. Stress and worry does that to me. Not the most auspicious way to start a day, especially one that could potentially explode with problems.
Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, my day imploded with each passing hour. I had every confidence I could wrestle any issues that arose, I just did not anticipate the avalanche that crashed down upon my desk. I worked through my lunch and several hours from home that evening. By ten o’clock, I passed out and thankfully got a full night’s sleep.
Oh, and as if I didn’t have enough to worry about at work, I received a disturbing call from a very congested coughing daughter asking me to find her an urgent care facility near her. I looked up some likely prospects within five miles of her apartment. She managed to get into her doctor and received a prescription for antibiotics to combat the bronchitis she contracted. The timing couldn’t have been worse since her graduate school auditions were scheduled for Friday.
Thursday morning became a mirror image of Wednesday, only worse. A system I administer (since late Fall 2011) decided to freak out and lock up. Calls to tech support went unanswered (or unresponded to) for nearly two hours, during which time I tried a few measures to kick the servers and services back into line. Desperate to get people back into the system, I restarted all the servers, even though I could find no errors in any of the usual logs. Miraculously (or not if you have any experience with this product), the system came back online and hummed happily along, oblivious to the havoc it left in it’s wake. At least the afternoon calmed down a bit and let me catchup on items from the previous day and projects that needed updating.
Thursday evening, Terry and I had a few errands to run, so we grabbed a quick dinner at a local sub shop. Just as I parked the van, I spied a spectacular sunset in progress and snapped a quick photo with my cell phone. A far cry from last year’s Groundhog Day blizzard if I don’t say so myself.
Friday morning, I woke up about fifteen minutes early (roughly 4:45 a.m.). Just as I was rubbing the sleep from my eyes and stretching, Terry came up to tell me he was heading to the hospital emergency room with chest pains. I followed him a few minutes later. I did the paperwork while the emergency room nurses and doctors ran a battery of tests. I sat with him, monitoring his vitals (which looked fairly normal to me) until six o’clock, when I left to pickup my vanpool riders for the commute into Kansas City (I recounted some of this in an earlier blog post). Thanks to an unseasonable thunderstorm that produced torrential downpours, the drive to work couldn’t have been more stressful. By the time I dropped off the last two riders, Terry had called to let me know the hospital was releasing him on his own recognizance to followup with his physician at his first opportunity.
Work at least settled into something a bit more normal (or at least not a flash flood of problems). I even escaped for a lunch at my favorite local sub shop, taking advantage of a free sandwich courtesy of my full punch card. I almost laughed out loud, though, when my order ‘number’ came up the Queen of Spades. What a way to cap off this week! I did really enjoy starting Archangel by Sharon Shinn, one of the two selections for February at the Beyond Reality book club. For more information about the group and the great books we read and discuss, stop by the one of the group moderator’s blogs: Far Beyond Reality.
I didn’t get any exercising done Friday. By the time I made it home Friday evening, after a quick side trip to the local liquor store for a bottle of wine, all I wanted to do was collapse. I scrounged up enough energy to chop some celery and onions to combine with sweet relish, albacore tuna and mayonaise for a couple of tuna salad sandwiches for supper.
I spent Saturday not thinking about work. I made two loaves of bread, one of which came out of the oven looking and smelling completely awesome. I immediately took a photo of my fabulous Honey Wheat bread with my cell phone and uploaded it via Twitpic to make everyone jealous. The first loaf of White Sandwich bread was still in the oven when my father stopped by for a surprise visit. While the bread cooled on the rack, we chatted away on various and sundry subjects. I sent him home with one loaf and one cookie (the last of the chocolate crinkles) about an hour and half later.
Since the weather had turned decidedly more wintery (or at least early springish), with a thick cloud cover and constant drizzle, I filled the crockpot with a savory beef stew. The aroma caused our mouths to water whenever we walked through the kitchen. By five o’clock, we each had a bowl of stew and a couple of freshly warmed Hawaiian honey wheat rolls.
We topped off the evening my braving the drizzle (which rapidly morphed into spitting snow) and driving to the Moose Lodge 1999 for the early V.D. show performed by Phyllis Killer. (V.D. meaning Valentine’s Day). Finding that particular lodge proved interesting. Have you ever seen a driveway that actually connects to an exit ramp from a highway? Yep, we drove right by it the first time. Well, it was sleeting and it was dark. After we turned around on 65th street, we found the large arrowed sign pointing the way back down the exit/entrance ramp to Turner Drive. Against all logic, I followed the sign and surprisingly, back along the curve towards the highway, I spied the driveway that literally falls off the backside of the curve embankment for the exit.
We sat through the first set of music, most of which I somewhat recognized (Terry knew more of them than I did) and one original song. We introduced ourselves to the bass player, who happens to be the husband of one of my vanpool drivers. We said our goodbyes (not wanting to stay out too late in case the weather turned even nastier) and headed back north, past the blazing Speedway lights (wasting electricity to celebrate the ‘grand opening’ of the Hollywood Casino I assume).
Never have I been so glad to put a week behind me. I will miss Marge sitting in the cube next to me, but I will not miss all the extra stress (in and out of work). I pray this next week (and all the ones that follow it) will continue to improve. I look forward to getting back together with Marge in early March for dinner and a jazz concert at the Unity Temple on the Plaza. I do plan to keep in touch with her, as much as she will allow me to.