Shuffling Cards at Work: Deal Me Out
In a recent scientific survey, all Americans said they would rather be attacked by a rabid badger than sign greeting cards at work. Granted, the sampling size of the survey was a bit small (me and Max, my coworker and racquetball partner), but I think the results represent a fair assessment of the situation.
Every week, I am inundated with cards for every conceivable occasion: retirement, birthday, sympathy, get-well, acquittal. Last week, I signed a card for someone's second cousin's godmother's pug for graduating obedience school (valedictorian no less!).
I never know what to write on the accursed cards, either. Most of the time, I don't know the person (or animal) that well, if at all. Usually, I play it safe with the standard phrases: "Wish you well," "My condolences, "or" Good luck with that." Once, when I discovered a card on my desk one morning, I quickly scribbled "Congratulations" and passed it on. That afternoon, Lance from sales came to my office, jerked me out of my seat with a firm handshake, and pulled me close for a spine-crushing embrace.
"Thanks man," he whispered in my ear. "You're the only one that knows how I really feel." Later, I discovered I'd signed a sympathy card acknowledging the passing of his mother-in-law.
Some people have no problem writing heartfelt passages. One disgruntled coworker wrote on the retirement card for one of our managers:
"Having reached the twilight of your mortal existence, please accept my congratulatory sentiments as you prepare to leave this ennui-inducing hellhole and make your way to paradise and your seaside condo. I remember well our initial acquaintance--sitting in orientation one score and five years ago, two young, creative lads lactating ambition and motivation galore, until all was slowly suckled from us by this godforsaken bureaucracy, a bureaucracy that nursed relentlessly, leaving our teats of aspiration depleted and withered, never to plump anew. Anyway, good luck and watch out for hurricanes."
The disgruntled worker was also a bitter, failed novelist.
If I know the person well, I may add an encouraging personal note such as I did on a recent get-well card for my friend and racquetball partner, Max:
"Sorry about the mauling. Don’t worry; my Aunt Melvina suffered a similar fate with a raccoon. She regained most of her mobility and her scars are barely visible in low light. Hang in there; I'll reserve a court for us."
Max had landed in the intensive care unit after simply sticking his hand in his mailbox, retrieving a package of Gevalia coffee, and flinging it at a rabid badger weaving across his front lawn.
I visited Max in the hospital (to deliver his card and conduct my survey). Though he was completely bandaged, in traction, and unable to speak, I could see in his eyes he was enjoying his respite from having to deal with the cards at the office. Thus, I am confident in the accuracy of my survey’s results.