A blue folder is being passed around the office. It has a card in it. I think it's safe, although self-centered, to assume that the card is for me.
Last week there was a surprise baby-shower thing for an expectant dad. (The due date is this Saturday, so dad-hood can begin any moment.) That was when it occurred to me that there was a heavy possibility that the people I work with would do that sort of thing to me. (To the best of my memory every other time there was a party for a person leaving the person leaving knew all about it.) Later that afternoon I went to one of the ladies who's always involved with the planning of parties, if not the one who starts them, and kindly asked her not to have a party for me.
"I don't want a party like that," I said. "I don't think I could handle it well."
"Well," she said, "we only just started talking about it. I think I'll be able to put a stop to it. Nothing's really been planned."
I took her word for it. "Thanks," I said.
"I know that it can be uncomfortable being put on the spot," she said.
"It's not really fun." She paused and sort of looked around at nothing. "How about a lunch out with just a few people?"
"That'd be okay."
"Then we can control who comes."
"It's not so much the who," I said, "but the how many." It was the best I could come up with to explain my phobia/anxiety/panic problem without really explaining anything at all.
And that, to the best of my knowledge, was that. Until I saw the blue folder and how it bypassed my desk. My desk happens to be situated pretty much in the rear center of things, so I think I see, and hear, a lot more than most people think I see, and hear. When it was placed on the desk next to mine I could see that the name crossed out on the staff list was three up from the bottom. Enough of these folders have been passed to me that I know where my name on the list is.
Go on, guess.
Yeah. My name's three up from the bottom.
A card. Okay, cool, I can handle a card. I don't really want a card, but I can handle it.
The thing is, when this office give out a card, it's rarely just a card. It's usually some sort of gift, too.
I hope it's not a gift.
I really don't want a gift.
I know that the card and possible gift are ways to thank me and say I'll be missed. I know this. However, the card and possible gift won't make me feel like my day-in day-out work has been appreciated.
You know what has made me feel like that? It was the times after my move was announced that the judges pulled me aside as I was dropping off my mail or heading back from the drinking fountain and telling me that they noticed how hard I worked and that they were glad that they had someone like me around to keep the paper flowing so they could more easily do their jobs.
Imagine that, people telling me something made me feel appreciated and useful. I especially like that it happened on an individual basis because that meant they wanted to say something, not that they felt/what they thought like they had to because others were saying it or that's the sort of thing one says at farewell parties.
Lunch is supposed to happen in ten minutes.
Me and three others.
Here we go.