Awkward moments are the absolute worst during the end of any type of relationship. My last post reviewed my feelings on ending a relationship with one employer, but it is the personal portion, between myself and the coworkers I am leaving behind that really hurts. That hurt was eased, or deepened today, depending upon how you look at it.

It was a team pot-luck and there was some amazing food brought in by my coworkers. I brought in a Phat Pie, Pillsbury style, that was devoured. Other dishes were pulled curry chicken, fried curry chicken nuggets, mac'n'cheese with ham, vegetarian beans (which still makes me laugh, even though i know it is just beans with no meat products included), chocolate fudge and too many other tasty delicacies for my brain to remember.

The party wasn’t just for me, but also for Connie who is leaving on the same day. It was a really nice gesture from people I’ve worked with for a very long time now. Some of them too long. :) The best part was getting to just stop the frantic pace at which we all move to just pause and think about the team as a whole and not the fragmented pieces we will all be when the project ends next year.

After the food, people kept calling for me to make a speech. While I usually enjoy being front and center, the thought of speaking to all these people who had been my friends for so long just seemed wrong. So, sensing my discomfort at the thought of some half-way rehearsed, long-winded, dusty and dry monologue, they all decided to roast me good, telling the best ‘Ted Stories’ they could remember.

Danny told the team how I had come about receiving my nickname, PAT. It seems that back when Danny and I first started working together closely in 2002, he and Patrick thought that many of the comments I made were a bit snarky. After some days of hearing these comments, they came up with the nickname of PAT, meaning Punk Ass Ted. Much laughter was to be had over that story.

April told of how, on her first days in the project, she heard this voice echoing from the testing lab, discussing cell phone plans and psycho-stalker ex-girlfriends. She heard this continue for some time, the subjects remaining relatively fixed, hoping that she would not have to work with that obnoxious guy. Yes, I am that guy, and she was not thrilled at having to work with me after I was introduced to her as the lead BA for the area in which she would be creating training material.

Paula spoke up, explaining that since she had heard the news I was leaving, she had been signing all her emails to me with 'Thank YAH’, meaning You Ass Hole. Its wonderful being loved.

Kim relayed the story of how she had messed with my mind for months after she started on the project. She had heard the same stories as April had heard, about my ex-girlfriends not the cell phone plans, and thought it might be a fun time to play a prank on me. For weeks, she would take a Hershey’s Kiss from another coworker’s office and place that piece of candy on my laptop when I was out of the office. This went on for some time, escalating on the Friday before Easter of 2004. She had purchased a small, plastic Easter Egg, filled it with a small stuffed rabbit, lots of candy and then left it hanging by a string on my office door. Needless to say, this freaked me out more than a little, considering the number of stalker ex-girlfriends I actually do have. To make matters worse, I had heard that another coworker, a woman my age, had brought in Easter Eggs for several members of the team. Thinking it was her, and not wanting to be involved with a coworker, I ran to Karen for advice. In my frantic state, Karen gave up the goods that it was Kim messing with me and not the other coworker.

At this point, everyone was having WAY too much fun at the expense of yours truly, so I had to speak up for myself. I explained that one of the psycho ex’s had recently attempted to procure a job in our department and the last thing I wanted was to work with that woman. While some people felt a bit sorry for me at that point, Danny was unimpressed.

Danny proceeded to tell everyone that I had just demonstrated one of the key reasons I got the PAT nickname. In his opinion, I can lie or explain away just about anything so that somehow I always come out looking and smelling like a rose. I can’t say that he’s necessarily wrong in this opinion.

Kim picked back up at this point, telling how I had paid her back for her prank, covering her office walls, chair, desk, cabinet and computer in post-it notes, right as I was leaving for 5 days of vacation. Eventually those post-it notes did find their way back to me, covering the inside of my office a few months later. Half of them got passed back once again, this time shoved underneath Kim’s office door after she had left work one evening. After that, the cease-fire went into effect, forever halting the escalating prank war between two superpowers such as we.

Shelda piped up, entering her best Ted Story. It seems that sometime during 2002, when we were all just moving down to the team, I ended up owing her some small amount of money, no more than a few dollars. For some reason neither of us can remember, I decided to pay her back with pennies, all pushed under her door after she had left for work. Her surprise upon returning to work the next day was a pile of change littering her carpet.

I believe the last story was another one from April. During my September France trip the year before, she, Lisa and Manoj had left me a yard full of 'For Sale’, roofing and miscellaneous other signs. They thought that I had spent so much time in France that year, 10 weeks at that point, that what I really needed was to just sell my house and move there. So kind of them.

However, the story did not end there. From there, I explained that I had gotten April back soon after that, with post-it notes once again my weapon of choice. Since I was not present for her discovery of the prank, April retold the story. It seems that she had been developing a killer migraine most of the day, totally unbeknownst to me. As I had left work that day, I spelled out “Gotcha! HAHA!” on the windows all the way around her Durango. What I had neglected to check first was the weather report. By the time April left for the day, there was a full downpour of rain, sticking those notes even tighter to her windows. Connie, on the way to her vehicle, suggested April leave quickly as her headache wasn’t going to get any better once she saw her vehicle. The notes shredded into little pieces as April worked at removing the soaked things from her windows. Another prank well done.

By this time, the low-hanging fruit of the stories were being picked clean. The lunch hour was nearing its end and we all had work that needed to be done. Slowly we all deposited our used plates and forks in the trash, reopened our laptops and started typing away. But for a short time, we were all just friends reminding one another why we were there and what was really important in our lives.