There are few better examples of the weirdness of workaday life than the office leaving card.
Nowhere else does the fantasy of emotional attachment and camaraderie curdle into the reality of indifference so strongly as the feeling you get when Tyone from three pods over dumps a novelty sized greeting card on your desk and instructs you to write a blurbette of memoriam for Trish from Emails.
On the one hand, you have shared a bit of carpet with Trish for…how long is it? On the other hand you, well, know really nothing about her.
Is she the one with the cardigans? No, she is the one who has the kid that got suspended for biting that dog…Is she?.
You also aren’t sure if either of them relate to her because you don’t really know her.
Nothing sums this issue like the most common inscription in a leaving card: Best wishes.
Think about it. It sounds like it means a lot but it actually means nothing. It implies, on the surface, that you want someone’s wishes to come true. Not their horrible ones though, like if they wish their husband would die or that all Chinese people die in a plague. No, their good, or ‘best’ ones. Best, we assume, refers to the most wholesome wishes or the wishes that offer benefit but do not have any horrible externalities. Like the plague.
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily mean that at all.
If we wanted someones non-murderous and amazing wishes to come true we would write “I hope your best wishes come true. But not the one about your husband dying or the genocide one.”
No, best wishes doesn’t really imply which wishes or whose wishes. Writing ‘Best wishes’ could just as easily imply that the persons leaving is your, or one of your, best wishes.
This is probably why no-one, ever, has actually said “best wishes”. It is solely for cards. Emotionally noncommittal ones at that.
However, much like everything else mundane, stupid and emotionally confusing you can have fun with it.
The leaving card can be a theatre for you to create mischief and, at the same time, riff on the whole concept of leaving cards.
You, dear weblog reader, can put the whole leaving card system on trial.
Be vaguely and non-specifically threatening
Refer to a strange shared experience you never had
Excitable nonsense unrelated to anything written hella big
Something long, tedious and boring no-one will ever read to the end of
Something that will lead your other colleagues to ask way more questions.
These are just a few suggestions, riff on it.