Pretty busy day at work today, but I'm writing a bit here all the same.
I even took a brief break around 10 a.m. to help set up the conference room for today's "Town Hall" meeting, followed by a provided lunch -- the reason I am posting a bit later than usual today. Setup today was far faster than usual though, because the conference tables had already been broken down and stored in the storage room across the hallway. Other volunteers did that yesterday in preparation for the retirement party for our CFO, Randy Lee.
He's worked for PCC a record 46 years. It will take some time for anyone to beat that. It means he started in 1971. Our company had been officially "Puget Consumers Co-op" only ten years at the time.
These anniversary parties and retirement parties always feature people telling stories from way back when. Usually these stories go back ten, twenty, only occasionally thirty years. This one was unique: it went back four and a half decades. We heard stuff none of us had ever heard before. When Tracy resigned as CEO, Randy stepped in as acting CEO for a while. Who knew that was the fourth time Randy had done that, in all of our history? I certainly didn't, and surely most of the rest of the office staff didn't either.
Randy talked about what it was like being on the Board in the early days. Goldie, who used to be our Nutrition Educator, came; I last saw her on the bus during my Birth Week a year and a half ago; she told me she still had the picture on her phone, which was kind of touching. She kept speaking up during the "tell stories about Randy" portion of the evening -- almost too much.
In any case, the affection for Randy in this organization is massive, and it was very much demonstrated at that party. His calm, steady leadership has truly been unparalleled. People who can't stand each other still love him. Layton, one of a few Store Directors who came, mentioned how Randy never has a negative thing to say about anybody. This is very true. It made me think about what a party like this for me would be like after I worked here four and a half decades. I am widely loved here, but I assure you, "He never has a negative thing to say about anybody" is not something anyone's going to be saying about me. Randy doesn't do this as any kind of put-on either. He's just genuinely that kind of guy. He gets along with any and all people. Tracy was a hugely divisive figure in our company but he and Randy were genuine buds. I'm sure Randy was one of the people -- unlike many people in my department -- who was deeply saddened by the news of Tracy's passing.
Randy even chatted with me for a few minutes. He mentioned another party that had been thrown for him, years ago, where people wrote notes on little paper vests. I guess I said something snarky like, "I just thought you'd like one more vest." I don't remember that at all, but as I said to him, it sounds like something I would say.
The standard retirement, going-away gift these days is a large wooden salad bowl. For Randy, it was filled with notes people were asked to write, about his impact and what he means to them. This time I actually took pictures of the note I left for him. I made it a bit more of an elaborate design this time, since I used an old PCC Customer Comment flier.
The party started at 5:00, so I worked until then instead of the usual 4:30, as there was no sense in going home first. I spent the first ten or fifteen minutes kind of walking around aimlessly through the slowly building crowd. I decided to wait at least until 5:30 to start getting food since that's when I usually eat dinner.
Aimee, our new-ish Office Manager, walked past me at one point and said, "I'm not good at these things. I need a drink!" They actually had a bar set up, and at first I avoided it because it appeared to have only beer and wine. But later when I was talking to Mary from IT, she said the wine she was drinking was semi-sweet and I might like it.
"I guess I'll try some of that wine then," I said. And she immediately said, "Yes! Come on." And then, once at the booze table, I discovered they did have hard cider after all. It was just a different brand than at the last party. It was a bit better, too. I had two small cups of it. As I said to Scott later, "I'm not about to pass up free booze." And he said, "I don’t blame you!"
Anyway, it was yet another office staff meeting this afternoon -- the "Town Hall" at 11:00 followed by a lunch provided. They had a sandwich-making station, which worked very well for me. I was taking veggie ham off the "vegan meat" platter, almost suspicious of it because it looked too real. Cate, the CEO, saw me taking it and said, "Are you vegetarian, Matthew? I didn't know that." I'm not sure how useful that information will be to her in the future particularly, but now she does!
I sat on the long table inside the dining room at first, but air conditioning was blowing right on me and making me chilly. So, I followed some others and ate outside -- the first time I was even able to all week. It's much cloudier today, and there's still a little bit of smoke, but the smoke is much improved today. At this rate it should finally be gone completely tomorrow. Let's hope.
I was mentioning to Nancy T, the Director of HR who sat at my table outside, that moving to this office location has been, for me, easily the most exciting thing to happen in the fifteen years I've worked here. What we talked about at the Town Hall meeting I can't say anything about until next week. But it qualifies as the second-most exciting thing to happen as long as I've worked here. It's going to be awesome and lots of fun. Internally, it's been truly impressive -- especially after the presentation we got at the meeting today.
As an aside: Randy was back for this meeting today. He was very appreciative of all those notes left for him in the salad bowl. He said he and his wife were up until 1 a.m. last night reading them all.
I still have quite a bit of work to get done though so I guess I'll post this so I can get to that and actually get out of here in time to meet with Laney and our old chorus friend Debi for Happy Hour this evening.