When I got to work this afternoon, there was man sitting at the bar that I recognized. Al used to talk to him every weekend there — they’d sit together, and John would tell Alex about his wife, who was ill, and about his huge family. John was coming back through town today, many months after the loss of his wife, heading north to see his 6 kids, 28 grandkids, and 14 great-grandkids. And yes, I remember the numbers. You don’t forget when someone tells you something like that. When I spoke to him, he said “Hey, I remember you.” Our daytime bartender said “See, John? I told you nothing had changed around here.”
Later, I asked my boss when would be a good time for me to have a party to commemorate my leaving Charlottesvegas and dear old McGs. He replied: “In a few years?”
I told him tonight was my tenth-to-last shift (because yes, I counted today). “Don’t talk to me,” he said.
You know, it’s hard to leave a place like that. A place where people aren’t afraid to tell you that it won’t be the same without you. A place where your customers will ask about you, weeks after you’ve moved, not because they forgot you left, but because they really want to know how you’re doing — and because they know your former co-workers will know. A place where you’re family. A place you’ve made home.
It is hard. It’s harder than I expected.