15 years post-Lexmark

15 years post-Lexmark

When I began my first adult job, I thought there was a good chance I'd retire from there. Three years later, while I was actively looking elsewhere, my boss offered me the opportunity to represent the department on a special project, getting me out of tech support and off the dreaded phone. Two years later, the shine was gone completely, but I was stubborn about keeping going. Another two years after that and I knew the end was near. It took another six months to line up a new job, but after seven and a half years, it was time to move on.

Double the time I spent there in the future, and we arrive at today, 15 years after I quit my first job. My current employer is the fourth total, and each one keeps getting better than the last. Was that first job terrible? Not really, but it did have a few terrible moments in there.

2005 Performance Review

Boss: I don't really have any idea what you do, but everyone thinks you do a great job, so you're getting the highest score in my department.

2006 Performance Review

New Boss: If I had known you were doing work this good, I'd have given you a much higher rating.

Some stories in life are just too ridiculous to make up; the one above fits that category perfectly, especially if you knew I did the exact same high caliber work both years. Still, my favorite has to be the reaction of that first boss when I told them I was leaving the company.

Boss: Why are you leaving?
Me: I told you 6 months ago that I was burnt out and wanted a change. You told me to go back to my office and just do my job.
Boss: Ok, I hear you. I tell you what, if you stay thru July, I'll get you a job somewhere else in the company.
Me: You are retiring in June. You can't do anything for me in July.

I don't want to make it sound like it was all bad; far from that, there were some times when it was amazing. To this day, I have many close friends with whom I chat regularly. Nearly every one of us have moved on to something else, either by our choice or not, but we really bonded during our years at the corner of Newtown & New Circle.

It is the people that came away from there with me, who made the biggest mark, and continue to make one thru the current day. Dolores, Mark, G. Scott, Mike, Michael, Karen, April, David, Trey, Brian, Shelda, Shun, Manoj, Kamal, Kevin, Kevin Basil, Jonathan, Daniel, Jeremy, Ron, Lisa, Guillaume, Muriel, Sandrine, Michel, Balaji, Ramesh, Amy, Dan, Charlie, Kim, Kris, Chris, John, Lyle, Robert, Rob, Joel, Barry, Michael, Ed, Everett, Ed, Stephanie, Tim, Manminth, Jill, Jenny, Bill, Joe, Jennifer, Jason, Eric and many, many more; each one of you brought much joy into my life.

But back to that final day. It was mid-afternoon and I found myself putting the finishing touches on a set of documentation for the people who were taking over my work. For some reason, the entire team seemed to be hungry for popcorn that day because people just kept popping bags in the break room, just a couple doors down from my office.

Eventually, all the documents were written and reviewed. It was still a few hours until 5pm, but I was done and it was time. One last walk thru the hallways, saying good-bye to many people who had made the years worth it. We had shared many a good memory, and even after I was gone, we would go on over the last 15 years to have a few more. It was sad, but a long overdue parting.

My friends followed me out of the building, which was no small thing, as it was a two minute walk, past pallets of broken down printers awaiting their day in the recycling truck. I felt loved, at least, until I got to the parking lot and figured out why the crowd had come along for the send-off.

The team had a great laugh at what they had done to my truck, and how they had pulled it off. My truck had been left unlocked when we returned from lunch, allowing the entire cab to be covered in sticky notes and filled with balloons. The bed of the truck had been filled with all that popcorn I had heard being popped earlier, then the whole vehicle had been wrapped in many rolls of plastic cling wrap. I don't remember how long it took me to remove it all (the popcorn left a 20 mile long trail all the way to my house), but I laughed the entire time. It was a fantastic final prank, and they got me good. I couldn't be more proud of the effort that was put into that send-off.

Here is to all of you who made that first job so memorable. To all of you who helped me grow up. To all of you whose presence made the bad times bearable. To all of you who made the great times even greater. I miss you all.