Into the Wild Pooh Yonder
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December 17, 2004
  Ewww...Sergeant Paul, you have something stuck on your boot...what did you step in?
Colonel Davis speaks highly of me, as they do with all retirees. I hate ceremonies! I'm gritting my teeth to get through this part. Gizmo licks my boot for comfort.>>>
Most of my last month was spent at home, playing with my website. I ignored the implications of leaving my world I'd grown accustomed to for the past twenty years. December 3rd was my last work day. I brought my bicycle to work and rode around Langley Air Force Base at lunch, just one last time. Out of 200 people in my building, most of whom knew me, only about twenty knew I was retiring. One thing I really enjoyed was that after this, when I came to work I could sit with the new person, Theresa, and train her as little or as much as I wanted. No one bothered me, because I was outprocessing. It didn't feel like work; it felt like I was taking care of my friends, even though I was sneaking away.
Twenty years of risking my life for my country, and it's all worth it, now that I have this vinyl/plastic paperweight--thanks, U.S.>>>
Mmmm...watching Mike do that makes me wish I had a drink>>>
I didn't know you were going to pierce my nipple...that feels gooooood>>>Above, Don Brunk giggles as I explain the phone call he used to trick me into coming. Don was a really great guy; my entire office was. I sometimes referred to him as Captain Drunk. I just thought of it one day when a caller mispronounced his name. He wasn't a drinker, by the way.
One afternoon, while I was playing on my computer and enjoying a few beers, Don phoned me to ask if I could show up on the 17th to meet with the boss. I said okay. After further dialog I realized he wanted to have a get-together with some of the other people we worked with to 'say goodbye'. Damn! He wanted a retirement ceremony, even though I specifically told everyone I wanted nothing. But Don was so nice, and I hated to let him down. I agreed on one condition; retirees bring family/friends to their ceremonies, and since I wasn't about to stand there all by myself, I'd bring my only family; Gizmo. I phoned Don and made my demands. He chuckled and said he figured I'd say that. It was aproved. I wore my ugly glasses because I refused to take it seriously. These are the people I worked with, talked to, ate lunch with, laughed with, cried with, okay...strike that last one. There's no crying in Air Force. I did cry with Gizmo; he was that kind of a friend.
Major Michael Raynoha (not pictured--he was the photographer) headed our section, a bit of a nerd-looking guy (I sometimes called him Ray-know-it-all), but he was great to work with. Sometimes we'd do lunch and discuss relationships since he and I were the only single guys in the office and tended to like the same women, which soon began to annoy me. He was great to poke fun at. Once I was working very hard, and we had a visitor standing behind me. I overheard him tell the visitor,"I'll give this to Sergeant Paul and he'll get back with you as soon as..." and he dropped a paper next to my right elbow as I was typing. Without looking up, I pushed the piece of paper off my desk, into the garbage can beneath it, and kept typing away. He snickered a little and pulled it out.

Below: Gizmo, properly tagged with his security badge. He whimpered a little while I was standing at attention so I just nudged him with my boot to shut him up.

all these people...all these people come to honor me...ruff...ruff...hey I can see up her pants>>> I don't think anything in that crystal will get me back to Kansas>>>
we're so thrilled to be here, so happy we could whistle zippety doo dah out of our>>> L-R: Captain Roselewski and Major Thomas Cantrell. Tom was my boss for the first year I worked in the AEF Center, then moved next door, but we worked with him still. He reminded me of a James Bond villian--that guy who throws his hat. Tom was odd. He flew to China and hiked around the countryside, getting into fights with the locals. Once we were talking about hunting and he said,"I'd like to mount a cat". I didn't know if he was lonely or just wanted a display, but I really liked Tom. Very cool, very intelligent, very competent,
very confident, and very funny in his own dry way. If I ever sneak away to China, I'd want him with me.
Next to Tom is Don Alexander, now a Chief Master Sergeant, who was my immediate supervisor. He looks just like the principal from "Ferris Buehler's Day Off". He was pretty cocky and when he first moved into our office I thought I needed to tone him down a little so he wouldn't get in trouble with Major
We're so glad we were able to find a replacement for you.  When does Gizmo start?>>>Raynoha. But it worked out well. He loaned me a television after the movers had taken my things.

Next to Don (skip the guy behind him), with the gray hair, Joe Fountain. Joe had a warped sense of humor, similar to mine, and he wrote sick poetry too. He had one piece called,"Do You Want To Touch My Butt?" which I often threatened to read at my retirement ceremony, if I had one. When we talked, it seemed we kept trying to make each other laugh, no matter how sick the conversation became, and Don liked to watch us, so eventually Captain Brunk had to tell us to be careful.

The blonde lady next to him is Kelly Riske. She worked next door with Major Cantrell. She and I spoke on the phone daily, many times a day, because she was our point of contact at Air Combat Command. We were buds...although she may dispute that. Next to her was Theresa Jefferson, my replacement. Before she arrived, her nickname was Weezie, as in Louise Jefferson from the Jeffersons TV show. At the time we didn't know her race, so as soon as she showed up, we quickly stamped out that nickname. I helped train Theresa but other than that, I know very little about her. I also told people I was being replaced by a monkey, before I met Theresa...another joke I had to stop immediately.
After this "get together" Don, Don, Michael (not pictured), Joe, Kelly and I went out for Sushi and we laughed and laughed. Sometimes I really miss those guys.