October 22, 2018

That Really Bunches My Panties…by Brendon Marks



At company going-away parties, retirement parties or even when the employee who’s leaving isn’t well-liked enough to qualify for a party, and spends the last week on the job going from office to office saying good-bye to everyone who doesn’t see him coming, the last thing said is, “Let’s keep in touch.” Since I hate to make promises I don’t intend to keep, I need some ground rules. An instruction manual would be even better. What exactly does “keeping in touch,” mean?

What is the minimum level of contact that fulfills the obligation of that phrase?

A Christmas card? Lunch once a month? A phone call once a week?

Or can you satisfy your conscience by connecting on a spiritual plane, like thinking of this person when you’re fixing some mess that he or she left behind when they bailed?

Do negative thoughts count for as many points as positive ones?

I need answers to these questions. Not only do I need to know what my level of obligation is to those who have left; I need to know what to expect from my co-workers when I leave the company. Is just knowing that I will be blamed for something in every staff meeting up until the time the next person leaves enough?

Who has to make first contact? Is it the “leaver” or the “leavee,” and how soon after? Maybe the card that everyone signs automatically transfers the responsibility to the “leaver.” There must be some established protocol. I’m sure that others have wondered. Did they write a rule book? I can’t be the first.

What is the time limit for “keeping in touch?” Does it vary depending on how well you knew the person, how close your names are in the alphabet, desk proximity, or some other obscure formula?

With the burgeoning popularity of the Internet, it’s much easier to “keep in touch.” Most e-mail systems allow you to set up distribution lists of names of all the people with whom you promised to “keep in touch.” Then once a week, or month, (or whatever) you can type a generic “keep in touch” letter and check off all those obligations with a single click on the “Send” button. Should you have two lists, one for those who may be interested in the minor boring details of your life and another for those who aren’t?

What if they just delete your “keep in touch” letter without reading it? Do you get credit for a “touch attempt?” Which brings up another point. Whose job is it to keep track of all this?

And how do you know when to stop? Some people will tell you to “knock it off already,” but most won’t. Do you just keep sending e-mails until they are returned because the e-mail address has been changed?

Obviously there is a lot more to this “keep in touch” nonsense than I can fathom. I can’t believe that someone would say “Let’s keep in touch” and not mean it, but I suppose it’s possible. I’ll do more research and get back to you.

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