I started my first job full-time job in early 1985, and left it 17 years later after agreeing to spend a year employed in Des Moines, Iowa. My last day, a Friday, was a difficult one: I was leaving long-time friends, a business I'd helped build and the place I met and fell in love with my wife.
It was emotional. Really emotional.
I left the going away party at my office at 3:00 pm, jumped into my 1996 Ford Taurus and headed home. I was going to spend the weekend packing, and then drive to Des Moines on Monday. After driving through the downtown area for a few miles, I decided the Taurus needed an oil change before the trip. So, I pulled quickly into the Jiffy Lube.
The oil change took less than 10 minutes (as advertised!), but I noticed the guys working on the car were laughing really hard, then looking at me with strange grins on their faces. When I stepped up to the counter to pay, I asked the manager -- who was still laughing -- what was so funny.
"We got a kick outta your license plate," he said.
"What do you mean?" I asked. His comment made no sense.
"Your license plate. We think it's funny."
"I don't know what you're talking about," I replied. So he lead me back to the oil-changing area, where guys were still standing behind my Taurus, laughing. There, all shiny and bright where my old license plate used to be, was this (although it was a WV plate, not a NY plate):
Suddenly, I realized why my friend Cara Hedrick slipped out of my going away party for a few moments that afternoon. She put it on, hoping I'd drive 1,500 miles and half-way across the country without knowing.
Man, I have some great friends!