43 Blue Baloons

Our Last Day At Work

6:09 AM  I awake.

The slats on the window shades are already aglow with the early morning sun.  I reach out to the bedside table to retrieve my phone and check the time.  This subtle motion causes Sadie to lift her head off the floor.  I feel her Husky grey and brown eyes on me.  I feign sleep, willing her to go back to sleep.

6:32 AM  I awake again.

So much for feigning.  Bonnie is already up and getting ready.  I ponder whether to get up or go back to sleep.  Within five seconds, my groggy mind makes up itself and I’m out again.

7:45 AM  I awake yet again.

Bonnie has already left.  She has a new employee that is starting on this day.  She will set him up, introduce him to her team, and then transfer him to her replacement.  I read the news feed on my iPhone for a while.  I had turned off my daily alarm for good last night.  Monday to Friday at 6:30 AM.  Occasionally, I would forget to turn it off on holidays and I’d be roused from sleep unnecessarily.  I guess I won’t have to worry about this for a while.  Finally, I get up and make some breakfast and get ready for work.  I take my time.

9:01 AM  The commute

I step out to the porch of the house that we have been housesitting for the last week and a half.  The day is turning out to be beautiful.  I pet Sadie and then walk to my car.  It’s a good day to retire, I think to myself and instantly feel silly.  I start the car.

9:02 AM  My Laptop

I kill the engine and go back into the house to grab my laptop bag.  Of all the days, today I almost forget my laptop.

9:34 AM  Arriving at Work

I arrive at work and walk up the stairs to the sixth floor one last time.  I fire up the old HP laptop, say my morning prayer before typing in my password and then check my inbox.  No onslaught of emails.  It had pretty much trickled down to cc, and some well-wishers.  Bonnie has copied me on her farewell email.  She included a link to this blog.  I walk around and chat with the team, some about their Fourth of July weekend, and some, even on this day, we manage to get into some technical work discussion.

11:04 AM The Meeting

My manager stops by and informs me that he needs me to attend a meeting.  There is a production issue on the bill rates service and lucky me I get to do some real work.  We go to a conference room.  I walk in and the entire team is there, including some other folks on our floor.  There’s cake.  Happy Retirement, it says.  It’s a surprise.  I’m surprised.  I did not think they’d do it because we already had a farewell dinner the week before at a hibachi place.

11:50 AM Lunch

I head out to lunch with some Filipino co-workers.  They usually go out for lunch two to three times a week.  Occasionally, when I have no meetings during the lunch hour, I am able to join them.  It does get expensive and I tend to overeat but the food is really good.  Today they paid for my lunch.

1:15 PM Turnover

Back at my desk, I delete my browser history and other personal files from the laptop.  There’s a couple of mainframe programs that I discover I have to turn over to my replacement, so I go over those with him.

2:42 PM Checking off the last item

It appears that my to-do list has gone dry.  For almost fifteen years I’ve been maintaining this list and it had never been empty.  I look around me.  Chris is hammering away on his keyboard, oblivious to his surroundings.  Chandan is on a conference call, his headset draped over his noggin.  I guess it’s time to go.  I click on the Start button and it takes me a few seconds to find what I’m looking for.   Usually, I just undock and go.  But there it is now: Shutdown.  Today the word carries a lot more meaning than usual.  My mouse pointer hovers over it but my index finger refuses to push down.  I press Esc to dismiss the Start menu and do it all over again a couple of times.  It seems so final, and the worrier in me thinks I’m forgetting something.

“Just go, man,” I hear somebody say.  I look up and Chris is looking at me.  He’s always been vocal about technical design and he’s always spot-on with design principles.  Today he’s given me the nudge that I needed.  My finger hovered above the Shutdown, then clicked.

I walk by people’s desks, shaking hands, and saying goodbyes.  I try not to take too long.  Then I walk down the stairs and out of the building.

Bonnies Last Day

Later that day, Bonnie and I talk about her day.  She had a telepresence meeting with her India team. The telepresence room makes it feel like they were all in the same room, just across the table rather than halfway across the world.  The India  team had put together a program including a list of questions for Bonnie to answer such as “What was your favorite moment in India?” and “What was your most embarrassing?”  In the end, the India team held up a sign saying “Farewell we will miss you, Bonnie.”  Thankfully Gina brought tissues to use.  Bonnie loves that team.

Goodbye from India on my last day
43 Blue Balloons

In the afternoon Bonnie was called into another conference room.  As she approached, she saw that the door of the conference room was covered with blue paper.  Inside the room, her team and friends greeted her with 43 blue helium balloons.  They had prepared a slideshow that featured 43 different blue doors interspersed with quotes and videos from people who were working from the other office locations.  In the background, Five For Fighting’s 100 Years was playing.  

Goodbye from the USA on my last day

At the end, there was a surprise guest who called in.  It was Nancy, Bonnie’s former boss, and a dear friend.  She was the one who hired Bonnie and had taught Bonnie so much over the years.  Nancy went to the Philippines in 2001 to hire developers and one of them was me.  She likes to joke that she went to the Philippines and got Bonnie a husband.  

After work, Bonnie’s team took her out to dinner.

goodbye dinner on my last day of work
Overwhelmed and blessed by the friendships built over the years
Find your blue door

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