Thursday, May 27, 2010

Run away! Run away!

Confession: despite my sentimental (and genuinely heartfelt) post about the wonderful farewell party thrown by my colleagues at NORAD and USNORTHCOM and about how good the military is at saying goodbye, I myself am a wuss when it comes to saying goodbye.

It's shameful, really. And it's all because I just feel awkward. All my social skills (at least, as much as I do have) seem to vanish.

I never know whether to shake hands or hug (especially when it comes to the guys). And I feel bad if I want to hug some people, but don't want to hug others, so I just opt for no hugs, but then someone holds his or her arms out for a hug just as I put my hand out for a shake, and she or he pulls both arms back just as I change my proffered right hand for a two-arm hug ... Awkward.

And I feel really uncomfortable when people say nice things about me - it's like that feeling you get when you're walking past someone who you just KNOW is watching you, and suddenly, you can't walk smoothly - your feet are two inches too long, your hips are all stiff. You feel like you're a two-leg amputee using your body weight to fling each prosthetic leg forward in turn. THAT's how I feel when people speak well of me. Just profoundly self-conscious.

Probably something pathologically neurotic about that. I'll ask my psychoanalyst.

So, when it comes to the final act of Saying Goodbye, I behave like the knights from Monty Python and the Holy Grail when faced by the man-eating rabbit of Caer Bannog (sp?): I run away. (Can't you just hear whatshisname yelling, "Run away! Run away!" as they scramble over the rocks, leaving decapitated knights behind them?)

And that's what happened today. I worked my last day in the Public Affairs office. I gave hand-over briefings, I sent papers to be shredded, I cleared out my drawers and cabinets, I moved all my electronic files to a shared location, I burned a CD of my old e-mails. And then I was done.

Since I no longer had any badges or security identification, a colleague walked me to the exit. As we were leaving the office, she asked, "Did you want to say goodbye to anyone?"

GAAAH! Of COURSE that's the Right Thing To Do. The Right Thing To Do is to walk by each of the divisions in the office, pop my head in and call a cheerful, "Well, it's been great, guys. Take care. Don't forget to shred those papers." Exchange a final handshake or hug (you see where my problem is). Is that what I did? Nope. Here's what I did.

I stood near the exit to the office and called out a cheerful and loud, "Well, goodbye! I'm leaving!" I received a chorus of goodbyes in return. Phew. We escaped into the corridor.

But one brave soul scrambled after us and called, "Wait!" It was Kyle - a colleague who is possibly even more introverted than I am. It really was good to see her, and it was actually nice to have a sort of private hug goodbye with her. We've come through some challenges together.

So now I'm kind of wishing I'd taken the five minutes, made the rounds, suffered the hug/shake dilemmas, and done The Right Thing. But, ah well. They know I've really enjoyed my time there and that I'll miss them. Right? Hope so.


  1. Saying good-bye is indeed difficult, and much practice hasn't made me any better at it. All I can say is, thank-you Monty Python!

  2. Wow! This sounds like me exactly. I didn't really say good-bye to anyone at school. I really wanted to tell them how great they've all been, that they've really been like a family to me, and that I know that I've grown so much in my 3 years there because of them (certain people more than others), but I didn't want to go through the awkwardness of the things they'd say... and the hugs! (I am not a hugger... this is something I've discovered... but most Southerners are). So I packed up my room and slipped out the door knowing I'd be in touch with anyone important...


What did you think? Any comments?

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...