Back in December my boss announced he’d be retiring on February 1st. The heavens opened up, a dove descended, and the hallelujah chorus played throughout the land. Then halfway through January he decided to extend it to March 1st. I tried not to get my (non-existent) panties in a bunch and extended my bliss countdown by another 30 days.
Here at the Psych Ward we have a longstanding tradition of throwing pathetic retirement parties. The fact my boss shunned me for 22 days after I was in a car accident, left me less than thrilled to plan a party for him, but if it meant I’d never see him again, I was totally game.
I chose an outdoorsy theme since the guy’s a Thoreau wanna-be who quotes Thich Nhat Hanh while offering tips on composting. Mostly I wanted to justify using rocks and dirt as decoration while hanging a banner that said “Take a Hike.”
After months of toil, the day finally came. It was his last morning. He stopped by my office.
“Hey, will you be in here for a while?”
I looked down at my feet, which were growing roots into the office carpet.
He handed me an envelope.
“Someone from HR is dropping by. Will you give this to them?”
Within 30 seconds of his exit I’d opened the envelope. It was a formal statement to our corporate office. Postponing his retirement indefinitely.
I was Frodo, standing before Mount Doom, not going to make it. Someone’s going to have to carry me or else this all ends in lava and devastation.
I’d put actual effort into this party– using actual kitchen things to create actual food things.
I couldn’t believe I’d gone through all this effort and the guy wasn’t even leaving. Thankfully the universe paved the way for a cruel and awkward punishment when Barry– a short guy from the kitchen– announced he was there “to sing a song.”
Several of my fellow party planners shook their head in horror and the guy’s supervisor was called over.
“No, Barry. There isn’t time for singing. We have a full agenda.”
But Barry was bright eyed and eager as an American Idol contestant. There was no way he was letting this go. Instead of listening to his supervisor he darted away from us and over to my boss.
“I was asked to sing you a song,” he said in a hushed voice. “Do you want to hear it?”
My boss had his ‘Namaste’ face on and was pretending to be of the people so he tilted his head graciously.
“Yes, I would love to hear your song.”
The rest of us stared in horror as Barry balanced an ancient desktop computer onto the metal ledge of a disused cafeteria counter. He waited for Microsoft Office to update then logged onto YouTube and selected an 80’s power ballad that was half Japanese, half English.
The end of the song was met with an awkward cacophony of unenthusiastic applause. Barry bowed deeply and the rest of us stared at each other with “what do we do now” eyes.
I watched The Goat Man, sitting in the corner with a serene look on his face. No one despises my boss more than this guy, and he’d clearly come to the party so he could have the immense satisfaction of knowing he’d never see the guy again.
Jokes on him.
When the corporate Head Honchos finally showed up—90 minutes late—they went through the fake ceremony of presenting my boss with a plaque and an award certificate. The Goat Man stood up to take a photo with his iPhone, obviously wanting to commemorate the magical moment. And then my boss’s boss shattered all hope.
“We have an exciting little plan for you,” she said to the room of glazed over eyes.
Everyone blinked. My boss mumbled something about how he’d just been planning on sending an e-mail.
“You’re actually going to get to keep him around a little longer,” she announced with a flourish worthy of The Hunger Games.
The room erupted in cheers. A codependent assistant started sobbing. The Goat Man stood up from his table and stormed out of the room. I met his eye as he passed and we exchanged a look of common despair. For once, we were aligned in our mutual loathing.
When it finally came time for us to clean up the non-retirement party and head home I approached my boss.
“I wanted to let you know… it’s been really fantastic working with you for the last 3 years.”
I paused, allowing both of us to relish in the absolute bullshit of the statement.
“…and I’ll see you on Monday.”
*drops mic, runs off stage*
What’s the most awkward party you’ve ever attended? Has someone ever done something you specifically told them NOT to? Who is the worst boss you’ve ever had?
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