Friday, April 08, 2005

A Tradition

I designated today “Purchasing Graduation Day.” My department will soon disband, most of us being laid off. But we celebrated in a traditional way: a long, leisurely lunch at “Domaine Chandon’s" outstanding restaurant.

To accommodate a conference call that Janice needed to participate in, we would drive to Robert Mondavi Winery. While Janice was using a conference room for the call, the rest of us would enjoy sampling some of the winery’s reserve wines in the “To Kalon Room”. The staff there always takes special care of us, freely pouring whatever we wish to taste. I will miss their kindness.

There was only one wine I wished to try: the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, a wine heralded as one of the winery’s best in many years. Joyce, Tim, Mark and I sat by the fire, savoring our wine and quietly chatting.

We moved on to "Domaine Chandon", where Stephen joined us. For lunch, Joyce brought a bottle of 1997 Chateau St. Jean “Cinq Cepages”, another very special wine, and I contributed a 1997 Mondavi Reserve Cabernet. Of course, Domaine always begins a meal by pouring their outstanding sparkling wine (“champagne”). In our experience, they never charge for this (though it may simply be a gesture for those in the industry.) So, we were well-lubricated for a warm and enjoyable afternoon.

The service was noticeably better this year. (Last year, I had some concerns.) Our server was quite animated and expert. This went a long way towards setting me at ease.

No profound speeches this year (not that I would know how to make a profound speech.) Just a simple “thank you” to a wonderful team. We had been through a tumultuous time, but throughout it all, they had never failed in setting a very high standard in our company.

As happens in a great restaurant, we immediately began passing plates around, so everyone could sample each other’s selections. I didn’t even think to bring a camera today, which I later regretted.

Another part of the tradition, rain began falling during our lunch. It wouldn’t be the same without it softening the pastoral oak-studded landscape.

I picked up the $600 tab, for the last time. But I would not consider “expensing” this. These people add so much to my life. Were it not for their knowledge, experience and effort, my job would be considerably more difficult.

Driving home this afternoon, I was incredibly tired. (No doubt the wine and stormy weather contributed.) Had to pass on a Samantha Stollenwerk concert I had hoped to attend in San Francisco tonight.

Home and went right to bed

Gasoline has reached $2.70 per gallon, ten times my earliest recollection of gas prices, in 1963 or thereabouts.

No comments: