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?