November 25, 1998
Goodbyes


The goodbyes have begun.


Yesterday Kathy stopped me in the hallway to give me a hug.  She's leaving today for vacation and won't be here for Monday's big Farewell Scene. Before she moved to Customer Service, Kathy used to do my job  --  the front desk thing  -- and she helped train me when I came on board. ("Put paper in the fax machine before you leave on Fridays, and don't eat the egg salad out of the vending machine," she told me.)  So there has been a *bond* between us, right from the start.

"It's been great working with you, Kath," I said sincerely.

"Yeah ... well ... just don't forget to come up for air once in awhile, down there in California," she said, and then she gathered up her stuff and walked out the door and she was gone, just like that, and I watched her walk away and thought "I'll probably never see this person again." And then I went and checked the paper in the fax machine, even though it was only Tuesday.

Last night I rode the leaky/creaky TriMet bus home for the very last time. Tonight *Someone* and I are going out to dinner after work, and then on Monday  --  my official last day at The Knife Factory  --  David will be here to pick me up.  So this was the final cold bumpy bus ride home. I sat in my customary seat (second row back, left side next to the window), gripping my customary little bag of groceries (six eggs, a quart of milk and a single tangerine), chatting with Bus Driver Guy whilst he navigated us through the dark slippery streets, past the hospital and the grade school and the St. Vincent de Paul store.

"So, you're leaving us, huh?" he said, and I told him that yes, this was my final bus ride, and he said "Well ... we're gonna miss you."

I looked around the bus. Beer Can Hat Guy was asleep. Sullen Teenagers #1 and #2 were in the very back, strapped obliviously into Walkmans. I doubted that they were gonna miss me very much. But I said "Thanks," and when he dropped me off a few minutes later  --  in the middle of the hill, so I wouldn't have to clomp up or down the street in high heels  --  I gave him a hug and said "It's been really great knowing you, Stuart."

He handed me a couple of all-day passes ("Your kids can use these this weekend," he said a little gruffly). I got off the bus and waved goodbye to him, and he nodded and steered the bus back down the hill, and I thought "I'm probably never going to see this person again."

And I tucked the bus passes into my coat pocket and began walking down the little crooked alley, towards the Tree House.

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