Yes, the retirement party was worthwhile. The person we were honoring is one of those gems in life that those working under her weep at her departure. She was nurturing, innovative and smart and a very close friend.
BUT I was also under social obligation to stop by my old department up several floors.
My final years I worked for the "guv'ment" in the Washington, D.C. area. It was a service oriented job rather than research, and I was in a group where I sort of remained on the outside. I had to bring in my own budget, and most of those I provided service to were not in the office, the building, or even the town. So I did not work closely with those colleagues in the offices around me. At times there was jealousy (surprise!) at my ability to have a little more independence with a budget.
But also, some days I really felt I was working in an asylum in my immediate department. There were a handful of colleagues that were hardworking, professional and with whom I had a very collegial relationship. Most of them moved on before me. There were others that had serious personal problems. #1 was emotionally unstable. Some days she was friendly and some days she would bite your head off for no particular reason. #2 was very competitive about her program and secretive. I did win her over toward the end and she and I worked on a project or two successfully. #3 (the retiring program supervisor) was good at the job and did hold the unit together, but when she got bored she liked to play mind games with her staff and watch the chaos. #5 (the new program supervisor) was treading water until his retirement and had no desire to manage anyone when he came on board and he hid in his office. #6 the office secretary was everybody's mother. She had a million of her own life problems (money, live-in lover, divorcing son, etc.) but she always wanted to solve everyone's calamities rather than do her job. She was out sick a LOT. #7 also had serious mental problems. She was cute and sweet, but behind the scenes she was frequently attaching herself to any new project and hung on for dear life trying to pretend she was making a contribution. Once a contractor got in a shouting match with her across from my cubicle because she kept messing with his project. She spent time telling tales on others and blowing things out of proportion. She had a panic attack in one meeting and created a rift between another person and I that was totally unexpected until I saw how she liked to drive wedges. She and another contractor had an ongoing feud which took up time in too many staff meetings. When a position opened up for a promotion for her where she had criticized every prior candidate, she backed down and didn't take it, to no one's surprise. For a full year I tried to develop a relationship with her and then just ignored her as best I could when I realized how dangerous she was. #8 was in the cubicle near mine and I had to get her permission to use any of our major equipment such as the giant laser printer. She was strict, demanded genuflecting, gave instructional lectures always and the only way I could get anything out of her was to praise the hell out of her....which I did. #9 was the cleaning girl who stole food from our lunches in the kitchen. Some days, you would be missing your lunch.
Everyone else was pretty normal and hardworking if a bit territorial which is not unusual in decades of tight government budgets. I have maintained a close relationship we a few of these folks and we have even spent days hiking and boating after my retirement. The night before this retirement celebration all the dysfunctional stuff I had had to deal with while trying to do my job came rushing back like a nightmare and that was the energy in the post below.
I regret that my final years were not spent in a place where people worked together with professional competitiveness but courtesy, where people had common goals, where there was some trust and sense of teamwork. But, alas, I earned my money the hard way.