Last night was work's annual Christmas party. We typically either go to someone's home (my former boss's house usually) or a restaurant every few years. It coincided with my last day so while I typically don't like going out to restaurants in a big group or staying out way past my bedtime or driving home in the rainy dark skies or parking in Crossroads mall the weekend before Christmas, I decided it may be the last time I see some of these wonderful friends so I went. This decision was cemented when almost every single teacher asked during the week, "You're going Friday right?"
I'll be honest, I'm the expect nothing be surprised at everything kind of person. We passed out the numbers for the dirty santa game. You know that one right? The game where everyone brings a gift (our $ amount was between 15 and 20) and puts it on a table. Those that participate get a number. Then 1 at a time we either pick a gift from the table or steal a gift that has already been chosen. So the numbers were being written and passed out. My friend and now former school Administrator tapped on her glass to get everyone's attention much to the surprise of my now former boss. K stood up and said, "As you guys know, this is Jennifer's last day ...." I must have turned 3 shades of red.
Then she proceeded to tell one of her favorite things about me. Her story included my kindness and compassion in picking up one of our staff members who couldn't drive. I did this drive almost daily (which added a good 15 minutes to my already long commute and times that by 2). I got up early, drove to her house and waited for her to come out. Sometimes it would take longer than I would like. I would get anxious about getting to work late (because I was a key holder and opened the building). Finally she would arrive with her boisterous personality and we'd be on our way. Then at the end of our shifts, I would take her home. Near the end, there were about 3 of us that did this so that I wasn't the only one picking her up and taking her home. This is the lady that passed away suddenly a few years ago. I loved Pam. She was the true definition of the spirit of love.
My boss asked that everyone share their favorite "Jennifer story." Some were thank yous for being me. Some people told stories that made me laugh so hard that I snorted. I almost knew each story before they were told. I'd see the person and go, "Oh I know what you're going to say." We'd laugh and then the story would be shared. Some were things that only the two of us knew and others were things that almost everyone at the table knew.
One such story that only about 1/2 of the table knew (and I to be frank had completely forgotten about) was the time we had an after school event. We invited the parents to come and join us for some festivities. Well I was in charge of teaching and marketing our tutorial programs so during these festivities, I tried to make myself seen as much as possible. Well on this particular event I decided (and don't ask what gets into me -- I really don't know) to wear this vest. Well this wasn't just any vest, it was a vest with organs on the outside of it. You know where the kids can pull off the organs and then put them back on? So I walked around (with one of those slide whistles) walking up to almost every parent asking if they'd like to donate money for a raffle to have a free week of lessons and every time someone donated I'd say phrases that included the body parts on the vest like 000 I'm so glad your hearts in the right place and blow the slide whistle. One time I even said, "This vest doesn't have a gallbladder, but that's okay I don't either." Haa!
Then there was the story about one of my favorite collegues. A while back, she was in the kitchen cooking when the stove started a fire. She was a little spooked and I was too, but I was laughing and calling for help. We got the fire stopped and then every day for a week I put youtube videos on her FB wall that had something to do with a fire (We didn't start the fire, Great Balls of Fire, Hey baby light my fire, etc.). That was one that few people knew about.
My friend A said it best, "You're the kind of person that you want to kill one minute and hug the next." I've got a very unique personality (especially at work) that leaves people shaking their heads and saying, "Only Jennifer." This friend actually picked the gift that I brought so she asked if I would write in it something nice. So I took it and wrote, "You wanted me to write something nice. 'something nice' " and then I wrote a little more (but can't remember what that was).
I was given a dozen red roses (insert tears) and a card that everyone signed. Now if this doesn't tell you about me, my first reaction was, "I can't believe no one signed the crack" which elicited the response, "Only Jennifer." A coworker gave me a beautiful snowman ornament. She asked my boss what I really loved. My boss told her snowmen. They know me so well. Everyone wrote such nice things. It's so nice to hear how much you're loved and appreciated. I may have been embarrassed, but it's a night I won't forget for a long time. I have never felt more loved from a group of people than I did last night.
And the dirty santa gift I stole -- cause i'm an instigator like that -- a pair of socks, a candle and a target gift card! What's funny is that when the person chose it originally I said, "Might as well hand it over Tennessee cause I'm taking that home tonight." But then I had to wait for my number to be called and it happened while Tennessee was in the bathroom! I stole it anyways! I knew she wouldn't *really* be mad since it was me ;)