Wednesday was my last day at work, and I realized that I am terribly awkward when saying goodbyes.
This was unfortunate, because of course everyone wanted to say goodbye.
So here’s the different types of goodbyes that I experienced yesterday, and my reactions to them:
1. The we-didn’t-really-work-together-a-lot goodbye.
“Oh hey, this is your last day? Well, good luck overseas. I hope it is a lot of fun.”
This one is probably the best and easiest for me to respond to. It’s quick, it’s painless, and best of all it’s genuine. It’s pretty great because you just have that shared understanding of “I recognize we worked together, and I really do hope you have a good life, but I’m not about to go home and cry,” so you just say something polite and non-committal and move on with your day.
2. The we-only-had-a-formal-relationship-but-I-want-you-to-think-I’m-overly-emotional-about-it goodbye.
“We’re going to miss you so much!! But you’re going to have so much fun! This really is a life-changing experience! I’m so sad!!! We can’t replace you!!!!!”
This one is the least fun, because you kind of have to put on a pleasant poker-face and lie through your teeth. These people usually weren’t great to work with, or at best made no real impact on your time with the company, but when it comes time for you to leave they want everyone to know how sad they are about it. Especially you. And especially everyone else too.
So you say, “Um, yes, thank you. I will miss you too. But I’m really excited too.”
3. The I’m-going-to-act-like-I-was-your-mentor-when-actually-we-never-really-talked goodbye.
“You are going to make such an impact on this world. You are such a caring and honest person. Remember to be true to yourself.”
This is the longest conversation you have ever had with this person, and they’re clearly set on changing your life with their words. So your response comes out, “Yes, thank.”
4. The actual goodbye.
“Don’t leave me!”
“You’re a jerk!”
“So you’re coming back, right?”
They might say all of the above. Or none of it. You may not have the conversation at all. The thing is, you actually talked to and got to know this person. You are actually and legitimately going to miss seeing them on a regular basis. So you skip the fake-ness.
You just say, “yeah, I’ll see you later,” and you get their email address so you can send them pictures sporadically when you remember to.