I hired some really good people during my 35-year career in the Federal government. I usually knew 10 minutes into the interview whether someone would work out or not. I was seldom wrong.
I watched some of those people surpass me in grade and in responsibility. But I could never feel anything but proud.
Even today I keep up with several of my ex-employees. One meets up with me every year when he comes to town to run in the Marine marathon. Another, who still works in the office from which I retired, keeps me updated on what’s going on and meets me occasionally for lunch.
But today I had lunch with someone who came to work for me around 1975 and another of our colleagues. The three of us worked in an office that did international work in third world countries. He retired last year and has no regrets. He traded in government bureaucracy for hot yoga, non-profit volunteer work, and healthy cooking.
We were treated to Indian lentil soup and a Chinese stir-fry that rivaled anything we could have eaten in a restaurant, served with a wonderful cabernet sauvignon.
The three of us never shut up as we shared stories and activities and plans. No one has any plans to go back to work because we have all found plenty to keep us busy. The only sobering discussion was of other former colleagues who haven’t fared so well. One died. Another had a serious stroke. And a third is suffering from the side-effects of radiation to treat throat cancer.
Our next lunchtime get-together will be at my house in February as everyone gets ready to chop. We’re going to make Thai food.
I have recently been reminded of so many people who are really genuine friends. I feel extremely lucky to have crossed paths with people like these who remain important to me.