21 November 2006

The awkwardness of other people's closure

Just attended a "good bye and good luck" party at work. The thing is, the guest of honor didn't want a party. She just wanted to quietly slip away and move on to her next chapter/job. No matter. She's of a level in the organization that she's made a lot of decisions and affected a lot of people. They wanted a party. And so it goes. And so I trooped over to do my part in ignoring her wishes.

As these things go, it was as good as it gets. A good turn out, from a variety of quarters. Plenty of food, drink, decorations, a cake with her picture. Even a paper crown which she obligingly wore briefly. A couple speeches and presentation of parting gifts.

Still there's this awkwardness. The guest of honor is spotlighted (isolated) and everyone faces her, already asserting that she's now in a different place... no longer part of the "us". People say all the appropriate pleasantries ("I'm happy for you but sad for us...", "Gosh, we're gonna miss you at those meetings but I know you won't miss them!", "We'll have to stay in touch!"), meanwhile scoping the table to figure out how to angle close enough to snag some shrimp off the platter.

I guess it's all part of the rite of closure but I dunno. And it wasn't quite a scene out of "Office Space." Still, this is the office. Not family. Not friends. There oughtta be another way to say goodbye that's not dragged out. A quick "See ya!" for people who don't like to be the center of attention.

Humans. Go figure.

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