Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Does how we say good-bye make us better pet owners?

So yah, the fricken turkey gift basket.

Because of budget cuts, there almost wasn’t one for the marketing committee to give away. But after much debate, the Marketing Head decided to make a cut in another area: office supplies.


This year, the turkey toss-up was between a male employee, Steve, and female employee, Kathy, who have dedicated their lives to saving cats. Not as a cat-saving duo but in their own respective corners of southeastern Connecticut. The committee didn’t spend much time vacillating between the two. Steve, a middle-aged man who lost both his father and his wife in the last two months, was the clear winner.

What we did spend time on was the wording of the congratulatory card. Let’s listen in:

Co-worker #1: “We should keep it simple. Like, wishing you a happy holiday.”

Co-worker #2: “No, no. We should say, we hope you have a happy holiday.”

Co-worker #3: “Is that even possible? The man is grieving.”

Co-worker #2: “Fine. In this time of loss, we still hope you have a nice holiday.”

Marketing Head: “Closer, but no.”

Co-worker #2: “Take time this holiday to reflect on happier times?”

Co-worker #3: “Now is the time to think about happier times?”

Marketing Head: “Let’s not talk him off the ledge, people.”

Co-worker #3: “I heard he has 17 cats in his house. Are we sure he’ll even cook the turkey?”

Co-worker #2: “Take pause to reflect?”

Co-worker #1: “I heard it was only 11. How about, enjoy your turkey?”

Co-worker #2: “Wishing you the best?”

Co-worker #1: “From us to you, with warm holiday wishes?”

Marketing Head: “People. The man is now alone with his cats. A card might not be enough. What we need is someone to say something in the spirit of warmth. What we need is a personal touch. Co-worker #1 and Mrs. Mullet, you will give him the basket and say something warm from the committee."

Co-worker #2: “What about the card?”

Marketing Head: “No card. We mailed him two condolence cards. That’s enough postage.”

Co-worker #3: “But the card is in the gift basket.”

Marketing Head: “That’s besides the point. The man has gotten enough cards from us.”

So it was. Last Tuesday, after I ate my 5,987,678 salad, my co-worker and I wheeled the gift basket on a mail trolley down to Steve’s office.

Not only did he not want our "charity", he didn’t want to hear our warm wishes. Steve told us flat out that he joined a support group for grieving spouses, and that no one had any business feeling sorry for themselves, including him.

He told us that he buried his wife—he didn’t divorce her—and that after 18 years of marriage, he and his wife should be considered a success story. Tears were unnecessary. People should be happy for him.

Then he tried to tell us a story about his favorite cat, Fang.

Co-worker #1: “So you don’t want the gift basket?”


As we wheeled the gift basket back to the boardroom, I had a Carrie Bradshaw moment. Did Steve have a point? Is seeing your spouse in a casket preferable to seeing him/her in the court room? If something happened to Chuck, would I take solace in the fact that we’d been separated by the universe, not by marital discord?

My initial thought was no, feeling like a marital success doesn’t ease the pain of losing someone you love. Still, I kind of admire Steve's outlook. After spending almost 20 years with someone, seeing your time together as an achievement, and not something lost, is kind of sweet.

Unless he was sick as all hell with her. That also could explain the ease of his acceptance.

What do you think?


VandyJ said...

Well fun with giving, hmmm? I don't know which I would prefer--divorce or death. At least with death you don't have to see them over and over--which leads to the idea that maybe he was sick of her. Not the happiest thought.

The Mother said...

I think everyone grieves in different ways, and we have no right to intervene or judge.

Pricilla said...

I think I am glad I don't work in your office....

You should have told Steve he could cook the turkey for his 17 cats.

I do agree it is better to celebrate the life lived than mourn the life no longer here.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

I think, CLEARLY, Steve has not moved through the 5 stages of grief. He's stuck somewhere between the "Latch onto other furry mammals for comfort" stage and the "show everyone how fun it is to be alone" stage.

If I'd been in front of that turkey cart, I'd be all, "Who said your marriage was a failure? We sure didn't! We just thought you might like a damn turkey. So when my spouse dies and I can't pull it together after just one month, please don't tell me how happy you are for me, mmkay? And by the way, can you use a lint brush on your cardigan, please? It's about to cough up a hairball."

But, I've been out of the workforce for a few years so maybe my office etiquette is rusty.

Annelisa said...

First of all, why didn't one of the folks in your office cook the turkey and invite Steve and everyone over for a bit of socialising...that would've saved on the question of the turkey and would've provided everyone with a little extra.

The card? Don't think it would have hurt to wish the guy a happy time...so, what if nobody does...it's gonna be a miserable time without his wife, a little wish for happiness surely wouldn't have gone amiss!

And (sorry, full of opinions on this post :-) )where his lack of openly grieving is concerned...he wouldn't be going to grief councelling if he was able to deal with it himself. Surely that tells you something.

Wishing you and yours peace, harmony and happiness x

Jeanne said...

Why in the world did they think it was a good idea to give a guy with no family a bird that would feed an army?

I bet he would have loved a gift card to Applebee's, or a nice TV dinner.

(Or am I projecting?)

Mrs. Tuna said...

Maybe Steve is eating his cats....

Mama Badger said...

He could have at least said, "Thanks, but no thanks." No need to be rude. Me thinks Steve is in denial. But to each their own, I guess.

Lindy said...

Obviously being parents - I would "hope" for divorce and not death.

Bird Shit and Baby Caca said...

he has a great outlook and at least he's seeking support. btw, I would never be able to deal w/ 1 cat let alone 11!

Sparkling said...

Umm I want to know what happened to the turkey basket???????

FoN said...

Everything after 'no' I read in the voice of Sarah Jessica Parker. Can you do a Darth Vader one next?

I hope I out live Brian just 'cause I want to win.

Frogs in my formula said...

Nothing about Mulletville Corp makes sense. We should have given Steve a bottle of tequila and some cans of tuna. Kathy got the giftbasket. Sadly, I think she would have been happier with canned tuna as well.

Who's Brian??

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Honestly, I think that I'd rather be separated by death. I don't think he was sick of her at all. I think he was glad to not lose her with a sense of hatred and hurt, but instead lose her because of a tragedy.

Keely said...

lol. I think everybody grieves differently and some people don't want anything that might be perceived as 'sympathy'. I think that particular turkey gift-basket tradition in your office is horrendous, personally. Talk about stigmatizing. "Oh! There goes Steve. I heard he got the turkey last year, because he's poor/divorced/was in a disfiguring car accident".

Otter Thomas said...

However he grieves is his personal deal I guess. I'm glad I didn't have your delivery job though. That would have been very awkward.

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