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Closing up shop

I spent today clearing out my desk, writing farewell emails to my coworkers, shredding old documents and packing my personal gear into a backpack to take home with me. There is still a grocery bag full of papers destined for the shredder under my desk, and for some reason my brain's picked that as the symbolic "not coming back" act for me. Forget the out-processing checklist, badge turn-in, or any other minutia associated with leaving your current place of employment. The act of shredding is a very visual and physical reminder of everything that's accrued in the bag that won't be around anymore after today.

But I'll tell you one thing that will be a very visual and physical reminder that I'm no longer in the military: my hairstyle. You'd be surprised at how difficult it is to decide on how you want your hair to be cut after a decade of saying "Number one on the sides, a number eight on top, and taper in the back." You can see from the picture of the first haircut I got on Day 1 of military training below that I looked like an extra from the opening scene from Full Metal Jacket...and not by choice.

The only time I've ever had my head shaved.

As part of my farewell tour, I stopped by one of my favorite restaurants, a little Chinese place called Jin Jin in Fort Walton Beach. It was a rainy day, so only one of the five tables was occupied. The owner struck up a conversation with me, just like he does roughly every other time I go in there. He opened Jin Jin in 2001, and I started eating there in 2002. That's a ten-year gastronomical relationship! His kid's in middle school now, and I've basically watched him grown up, playing at his dad's restaurant. Sadly, I don't know either the owner's name or the kid's name, even after all that time. So, I've go to work on improving that interpersonal interaction. But the fortune cookie did make me think that I've got the right idea:
"Example is not the main thing in influencing others.
It is the only thing."

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