Earlier this week, I attended a company dinner party styled as a roast of the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, whose jobs have ended in the wake of the just-completed merger. The evening was great fun as the team creatively pulled out all the stops.
It started off with a few girls and I doing a rendition of Gloria Gaynor's "I will Survive," complete with feather boa props, somewhat synchronized choreography and lyrics revised to suit the occasion. This was almost as much fun to develop and rehearse as it was to perform, so I was pleased to have been invited to join the ladies - all of whom I could previously claim more as acquaintances than friends. I kept waiting to get nervous to perform in front of an "audience," friendly as it might be, but I never did and we were well received by the crowd that evening.
The IT group presented a priceless Jib-Jab video with pictures of the CEO and CFO heads pasted onto a figure skating pairs team, prompting much hilarity about who was chosen to be the girl. Others put together speeches with gentle jabs at the quirks of our departing execs. One of the best jokes I heard in the evening poked fun of the fact that our famously politically-incorrect CFO inherited responsibility for the Human Resources function after a round of layoffs in the past year. The joke went: During a discussion of his new HR responsibilities, it happened to come up that [HR director] is lactose intolerant. [CFO] said, "Yeah, I don't know much about those Lactose people, but I don't like 'em either!" Ba-dump-cha! (Guess you had to be there.)
After many speeches both humorous and touching, the evening wrapped up with an all-join-in karaoke rendition of "Lean on Me." Silly, sentimental fool that I am, I got a bit maudlin. But I wasn't the only one. I have been repeatedly surprised at the depth of emotion shown by co-workers as we go through this transition. So very many are moving on... it feels a bit like approaching graduation at school.
Speaking of analogies to school... one of the things I have enjoyed most about working with this team is how inclusive the group is. We are a work-hard, play-hard bunch, and I appreciated being made to feel an integral part of the team in both endeavors. It was like being welcomed into the group of "cool kids" at school. Although I have always been blessed with a few close friends, and once you get to know me I am far from shy or quiet, I always felt ever-so-slightly uncool... a bit socially awkward in groups. Sometime in my late 20s I finally developed the self-confidence to accept myself and not worry so much about it anymore, but the atmosphere in this group meant I didn't have to worry about it at all.
I hate goodbyes; my usual strategy is to just not do them if at all possible. These past few weeks have felt like one long drawn out goodbye. But as I left the party this week, slipping out quietly to avoid said goodbyes, I considered that - as melancholy as this long goodbye has left me - it will be no different from leaving school. I have made good friends here and I have enjoyed working with acquaintances here; I'm sad it has come to an end. But true friends will stay a part of my life and acquaintances will pass into pleasant memory, and I will be left with my reflections on this time - feeling fortunate that I got to experience it at all. And that is by no means a bad thing.
There are things afoot that mean my own time here may be running out. I'm totally excited about the potential opportunity and will fill you in as things progress. Wish me luck!