People started to wonder where the guest of honour was at 5:30. When 6 o’clock rolled around they began to make jokes at his expense. They said, “Oh, that Gord. He’d be late to his own funeral,” and “Wouldn’t it be funny if he blew off his own retirement party?” At 7 p.m. they actually started to worry.
“Has anyone tried his mobile phone?” someone inquired.
“I did ten minutes ago. No answer,” said Jeff, his now former cubicle mate.
“Did you try his wife’s phone?” someone else then asked.
“I don’t think anyone here has her number, but I can try their home number,” replied Jeff.
While Jeff put a call through to Gord and Barbara Sutherland’s house, the other guests stood around wondering if management would let them divide and then take home all the food that had been catered for the event. Some also sarcastically offered to take Gord’s retirement gift – a gold watch.
“Hey everyone! I just tried their house. No answer there either,” Jeff announced. “I could take a spin by their place and see if they’re there. It’s only about a five minute drive. Maybe their car has a dead battery, or something.”
Everyone agreed that was a good idea, just in case something bad had happened to Gord and his wife. Fifteen minutes later Jeff was back with news no one expected.
It’s really weird. There’s a ‘sold’ sign on their front lawn, and when I peaked in their windows I didn’t see anything inside. No furniture, no drapes, nothing. The place has been cleaned out. Their cars were gone, too.”
That’s because Gord and Barbara Sutherland had crossed the border into Michigan an hour ago and were now on their way to Florida where their new condo was awaiting their arrival. Gord Sutherland had indeed blown off his own retirement party.
Unlike so many other retirees, Gord didn’t feel a tug of sentimentality during his final days at Peakway Packaging, his place of employment for the pasty thirty-five years. He was not going to miss the place, or the co-workers and clients who drove him crazy for so many years. And he certainly didn’t need a gold watch. He already had a watch of his own. Not that he’d be needing it once he and his wife arrived in Key West. They were now free to do things according to their own schedule.
“So long Peakway Packaging,” Gord said as he drove along the I-94. “Take your gold watch and those pita wraps you always order for your lame parties and stick ’em where the sun doesn’t shine.”
That, of course, would be nowhere near Key West.