At 11:30 today I go to the Sante Fe Grill for my goodbye luncheon. Ironically Ann is in Sante Fe working, and I wish she were here because I’m no good at these things. She helped me through a similar luncheon just after we met in 1996 in Los Alamos, when I left my job mapping hazardous waste samples for ICF Kaiser Engineers to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
I do my best to accept the gifts and parting wishes gracefully. Everyone is gracious and exceedingly good to me, as they’ve been all along. Jay Hodge gives me a whole career’s worth of gag gifts, including a case of toilet paper, each with relish. Annette Bergman bestowes six jars of good oil upon me, and I tell my story of begging for fat on the PCT. The crown gift is a large laminated elevation map of North America. Perhaps the best symbol, though, is this beer stein labeled with the division title, the two projects I worked on, and everyone’s name. I never would have imagined it when I came here for a six-month project with a carload of bare essentials, but I’ve been a part of the Nav Air Target Recognition division for over two years.