I attended a leaving ‘do’ last night.
I hadn’t originally intended to go. The promise of food persuaded me. In the end, the wine made up for the rather sorry looking vegetable crisps.
Leaving ‘do’s are the worst kind of work event. They normally occur in an unloved corner of an office building. You dont necessarily want to go but often feel as though you ought to. When you’re there, you don’t know why you’ve gone. And when you leave you wish you hadn’t gone in the first place.
In fairness, it does rather depend on the person leaving, I find.
I’ve attended a sufficient poorly attended parties of my own to know that you’ve got to be made of pretty tough stuff to even contemplate having one, let alone attending it.
The best solution is to tacitly agree to someone else arranging it for you. The only thing then you’ve got to worry about is how many people turn up. If no-one does, you can always blame it on the organiser.
But if there’s a whiff of your event manager potentially not coming up with the goods, that’s normally the cue to jump in with hobnail boots, announcing a date and promising a good time to be had by all. The weeks – or days, if you’ve been especially unlikely – that follow will see the inevitable moments of self-doubt plague you. Be warned.
If you’re lucky, the event will be over quite quickly.
If you’re liked people will arrive promptly. They might even do their hair or apply their lipstick. If you’ve done good, someone who everyone respects will stand up and make a speech. People will titter. The wine will warm at the same rate the sentiments do. Presents will be offered. The recipient will gush. Somewhere between the opening address and the grateful thanks, the audience will experience and undeniably poignant feeling they won’t want and almost certainly wouldn’t want to discard either. We’re suckers like that.
We don’t want them to go. It seems really wrong. They’re being taken from us. And yet we wish them well, envy their relative new found freedom. They’ll tend rosebushes in the afternoon sun and drink cloudy lemonade served on a garden table on an immaculately mown lawn.
Our eyes will widen at their surprisingly glamorous past. We applaud their accomplishments, smiling knowingly at the in-jokes.
We’ll marvel at their popularity. How did they achieve all of this? How did they end up being as successful as they have been? What was their secret? And look at all these important people who’ve come along. I had no idea they knew him. Gosh.
No-one will say anything, but everyone will be thinking the same thing: how on earth will we do without them?
As the applause peters out, the hubub will diminish. The room will clear.
And, as they pick up their bags and coats, one question will be uppermost in their minds …
What will my leaving ‘do’ be like? And when will I have to start thinking about it?