The other day I was in the checkout lane at the grocery store, doing my usual last-minute shopping for that night's dinner. Without glancing up, the cashier mumbled, “Hi-how-are-you?” as she bleeped a package of pasta over the scanner. I answered, “Great-how-are-you?” and fumbled to get my wallet out. Neither of us was really paying any attention to each other or to what we were doing; just another chore to check off the list for me, just another line of items on the conveyor belt to her.

I barely registered, out of the corner of my eye, someone bagging my groceries at the end of the register. “Hi-how-are-you?” I shot in his direction.

“I am so very, very fine,” he said. That caught my attention. I looked over and saw a young man with mental retardation quickly and efficiently placing each item in the bag with great care. I complimented him on doing such a great job — it's harder than it looks to get everything packed in there right — and asked him how he had learned to bag groceries so well. He said his teacher had told him to pretend he was putting a little bit of himself into each bag along with the groceries, then to pack the items in so everything is comfortable in there. Then he gave me the biggest grin I've ever seen.

This year's RCMA keynote speaker, Keith Harrell, was right, I thought, as I put away the broccoli and milk. It's all in the attitude, and my grocery bagger has a bucketful.

I remember when I first I sat down before a brand new computer at my brand new job as editor of Religious Conference Manager magazine three years ago, and wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into. Deadlines were whizzing by like semis on the highway, and there was a slew of new systems and software to master — not to mention a new industry to learn about. It was a little overwhelming. Then I had the opportunity to speak with some of you about your work, and I went to RCMA conferences and learned a whole lot more. RCMA Executive Director DeWayne Woodring was endlessly patient in correcting my faux pas, and RCMA tutorial leaders and columnists clued me in on items like attrition and citywide housing concerns. I was given so much, and I was determined to try to give back in more than equal measure.

“The real satisfaction is not in what you end up with, but in how much of yourself you've left behind.”

As I get ready to hand my RCM blue pencil over to my very capable colleague, Larry Keltto, I realize that my grocery bagger has just reminded me of something I've known all along: When the work is done, the real satisfaction is not in what you end up with, but in how much of yourself you've left behind.

As much as I look forward to my new position with RCM's sister publications Association Meetings and Medical Meetings, and all the new rewards and challenges it no doubt will entail, I know that part of me will always be with RCM, and with you.