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.