You sparked a memory for me.
I had been working at San Diego Scale for a couple of years. It's a small company, and business ebbs and flows. When it gets really busy, schedules back up like a clogged drain; the work is just specialized enough that it takes about a year for a new hire without previous experience to be able to work in the field alone unsupervised, as most of us do.
A co-worker dropped a bombshell: He was checking into rehab for cocaine addiction.
Even though he was a good worker, his employment with us ended that afternoon. This was in the middle of our busy season. My boss, Larry, held a company meeting and told the 2 of us field guys remaining that he wouldn't be able to bring another tech onboard and up to speed fast enough, and the next 6 months were going to be rough going. Of course, there would be a lot of overtime, and we would have to try to keep from loosing customers.
A year later, I happened to be driving Larry to the airport for an early morning flight.
As I pulled away from his house, we started talking about making it through a tough period. Larry was taking a week off to go to New York, a favorite spot for him. He noted that my vacations were about seeing my Parents and Siblings, and asked about it. "That's all my family does, is visit with each other," I said. He said, "That's an obligation, not a vacation.
If you were to imagine a vacation where you went where YOU wanted to go, where would it be?" It's important to note here that we were both single at the time.
After a pause, I told him that I had never been to Washington, D.C. What I was interested in was to see as much of the Smithsonian's Museums as I could. I guessed it would require at least a week.
A month later, I was returning to the office at the end of the workday to submit my reports. I glanced at the scheduling board to prepare for the next day's assignments and scrawled over that day's notations for me was: "SEE L.O.
That cryptic note was a summons to the Boss's Office.
It was curt, and usually meant that a MISTAKE had been discovered.
The last time I had been summoned to Larry's office like that, I had received a violation notice from the County Department of Weights and Measures for placing an inaccurate scale into service.
I knocked on his door, and went inside. Wordlessly, he handed me an envelope. I tried to keep from trembling as I opened it.
Inside was a round-trip airline ticket to Washington, D.C., reservations for a week's stay at the Downtown Holiday Inn at Thomas Circle, and $100.
That was twenty years ago. I still work for Larry.
I want to go back and see the Smithsonian again.