Just say goodbye, already…
For about ten minutes yesterday, working in the office was more difficult than usual. Nothing to do with impending deadlines or oodles of gossip, it was a little stranger than that; we kept getting assaulted by waves of applause for someone who had escaped the clutches of Local Government and were going through their last day here.
Now, I like giving people a good send off as much as Michael Aspel in his This Is Your Life pomp, but when that entails at least six rounds of applause it’s all getting a bit much. Each peal of hand clapping must have been interrupted by speeches from different people, and must have involved what sounded like half the floor (who were all around the corner, so we couldn’t spy on them easily).
Nobody is liked that much by that many people in their own right, so I assume it must have been someone important that people wanted to be seen to be supporting. However, I strongly suspect that we may be seeing the start of a new type of competition in the workplace – the big send off.
In the past a leaving lunch was arranged, perhaps followed by a speech from their boss, one from the person leaving and a slightly embarrassed moment when you hand over the gift, which isn’t worth nearly as much as everyone thought it would be. Now it seems that unless you have at least two ranks of people watching you, an Oscar-worthy speech (complete with tears) and can command a gift fit for kings, your send-off is not good enough.
Last week, Friday night descended into a world of drunkenness and debauchery not seen since the times of Rome, when a few very well liked colleagues shared a venue for their own leaving party. They are not just leaving the Council but are leaving the country for good, so it really was the last time most of us would see them and was deserving of a big send off. They were happy about leaving, and we were genuinely pleased to see them moving on to pastures new and exciting.
However, most other remaining staff are feeling less good about leaving, and often aren’t doing so through choice, so want to make less of a big deal about the whole thing. A quiet exit, cardboard box in hand and small card in pocket would be more than enough.
And as more and more people do leave what is this going to mean for the leaving do? What will it mean for those rounds of applause – will they get more lacklustre as they are so oft-repeated and with fewer people left, dwindling from raucous applause down to a polite clap before the dreaded slow-clap of Women’s Institute fame? What happens when you are the last person left – do you give yourself a secret card and a nice speech before patting yourself on the back and stealing a stapler?
I for one have decided that anything they can do round the corner, I can do better. When my turn comes I’m going to take a leaf out of the North Korean football team’s books and hire actors to stand around and clap for me – I might even request a little wailing and a single tear rolling down the cheek. All I need to do is find somewhere that sells jetpacks and I can really leave in style…