A Warped Hansel and Gretel

Bread crumbs or popcorn? Personally, I think the later is a great deal tastier, but as has been said by many people, many times before, there is just no accounting for taste. I did my own impersonation of Hansel and Gretel last Friday, as I drove home after my last day as an employee of Lexmark.

Something about the pot luck should have tipped me off. Sitting around listening to people regale you with the ‘most memorable Ted stories’, most of which involved some sort of prank, should be enough to put you on edge. When people drag up memories of the ways in which you have harassed them, watch out! Your time is coming soon.

Friday was such a day of contrasts. So much time spent, saying good-bye to people I had seen five days a week for years on end. Many of them were closer and knew more about me than just about anyone on the planet. Many were happy for me, some were jealous and others were just glad to see me gone.

Walking around the buildings, taking one last tour through a place that had taken 2728 days of my life, from the first day on November 30, 1998 to the last on May 19, 2006, made me realize that I would be missing a lot when I left. It again always comes back to the relationships formed in the midst of all the chaos and strife. Bonds had been hammered into existence through years of pressure and fire, only now to be broken open by the turning of the wheel of time.

It was time for me to go. Staying, while a valid option, was just not something I could countenance further in this life. When it is a case of staying and dying a bit more each day or attempting to build a new, different life, I choose life every time.

These thoughts crept through my mind, shadowing my mini-tour of my secondary home. As I completed the rounds, the tears began to force their way to the front only to be stifled back in an effort to not make the departure any more difficult than it was already proving to be. I should have had more faith in my friends. I should have known that they would have me go out with a laugh and not a tear. I should not have been surprised, but was very grateful for that unexpected ending to my career at Lexmark.

Tammie’s question an hour before my departure, if I owned a truck, was the first clue I missed. Normally, that is the first step in someone wanting my help to move them from one residence to another. The second clue should have been the large number of people so concerned to walk me to the door and out to my vehicle. Since most of them were Indian, I just assumed some different cultural understanding of saying good-bye, with the dumb white folk just along for the ride.

My vehicle was not as it was when I had left it no more than two hours prior. It was still green, still had its wheels and looked like it would run just fine… once I cleaned off all the crap that covered it:

  • Post-it notes covering every available interior surface.
  • Ribbon encircling the steering wheel.
  • Balloons filling the cab.
  • A balloon attached to the driver’s side mirror.
  • Saran wrap encircling the entire vehicle.
  • 41 bags of microwave popcorn, popped, dumped into the bed.
Most of the department was either waiting out in the parking lot, hidden between the cars with their cameras in tow, or waiting for me to leave so they could run out and watch me attempt to extricate my motorized conveyance from its clear, plastic tomb.

Having been choking back tears only moments before, I now found myself giddy with joy that they would think that much of me to go to that kind of trouble for one last prank. I see that my legacy there will not be forgotten easily, nor my influence be lost. There are several pranksters eager to take up where I have ended my string of ever so slightly malicious endeavors.

The interior balloons ended up floating away, high up into the clouds, passing the needle of the television station antenna behind us. The Post-it notes found a new home in a gas station garbage can, as did the steering wheel ribbon. An enormous ball of Saran wrap became a decoration for the windshield of a conspirator’s vehicle.

But by far the best was the 20 mile trail of popcorn that followed me all the way from my old job to my home. Several coworkers feared, or maybe hoped, that if I did not clear it out before I left the property, I would be fined by a police officer. None saw me, but had they wished to find me, it was quite easy to follow the trail back to my home.

Small pieces of popcorn still adorn the bed of my truck, having been melted and adhered to the bed liner by way of a small rain shower and a lot of dew. The thought of taking a broom and removing them has occurred to me, but for some reason I just can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe one day soon, as the craziness of the new job begins to surround me, I will need an anchor, a light in the darkness, a way to find my way home. Maybe that congealed mess in the back of my truck will help me find that path I will be so desperate to locate.