I know there are only good intentions behind the office greeting card — usually given at birthdays, or when an employee parts ways with the company — but listen, throughout history, some pretty ghastly things have been done by those with truly good intentions.
If you aren’t too familiar with the card recipient, you’re required to generate some generic statement that might, on its face, say, “Best of luck in your future endeavors!” but really may as well say, “I’m not too familiar with you, card recipient...”
However, if you know and like the person pretty well, that’s worse. The better you know them, the more you like them, the worse it gets, because soon, your quarter-sized corner of the card looms like an impossible task, a challenge to squeeze at least four dozen thoughts and feelings into no more than two, HR-appropriate sentences. See, maybe I’m overthinking this, but you don’t want to be the guy who takes up too much real estate on the card, either. To make matters worse, sometimes the card overseer hovers while you try to drum up a sentiment. It’s all too much!
When asked to sign a farewell card for Crescent-News reporter Lisa Nicely — Friday marked the close of her colorful 17-year career here — I panicked. No two, HR-appropriate sentences in the world could ever do. I don’t remember what I wrote on the card, maybe, “Best of luck in your future endeavors!” All I remember is, for a writer, it was an inexcusably poor written expression of my feelings. A better, but similarly quarter-sized option would have been:
LISA, DON’T LEAVE MEEEEE!
Yet, I felt that failed to properly celebrate my friend and long-time cubicle neighbor for entering this promising new phase of her life. Also, it’s a sentiment best accompanied by a dramatic physical manifestation of groveling — kneeling, rolling about, arms outstretched in her direction, that sort of thing — that is tough to convey using only the written word (though I did just try...).
In February, I wrote that I’d failed to fully acknowledge the closure and subsequent demolition of the Clinton Street bridge, and the impact it would have on my life and mood, until the very day it closed. I had similarly spared myself any and all Lisa-related sadness by doing the same thing, until I read her “farewell” column in our Thursday edition.
The problem with her farewell column was, Lisa Nicely can’t adequately ... celebrate herself, you know? I mean, she could, and I believe she would be justified in doing so, but she would never, because she is exceedingly humble.
Perhaps you’ve seen her out and about, trudging through the six-county area, arms full o’ the news. Were I charged with hiring a reporter, I would require that person to have roughly 48% of Lisa’s drive. Had they more than that, I would worry about them, perhaps try to offer them multivitamins or encourage meditation (BYO incense, Lisa, let’s do this).
Lisa talked about her long relationship with community journalism in her own column; you can read that there. But there’s something I need to add, and I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far into the column without spitting it out:
I have never seen Lisa Nicely be mean to, or about, anyone, ever, and I don’t understand it. I mean, I’m sure she’d insist it happens, but she has practiced an impressive amount of community journalism directly next to me over the years and...nope, nothing yet.
You will be missed Lisa, by many, and probably more than you know. Take your vitamins!