Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Last Writing- Euphemistically

I mentioned that earlier this week we buried our friend Barbara. Barbara and her husband Charles determined long ago that they wanted very simple funerals, even setting a price limit. As the years past that cost ceiling became impossible to achieve because funerals, even modest ones are expensive. Anyway one thing Barbara did want was a very plain headstone- simply her name I think.

If you wander around cemeteries these days you'll see a lot of folks make different choices. Some tombstones have photographs on them...some even "talk." You can push a button and hear the dead person's pre-recorded wisdom or favorite tune. It's a little creepy, but I suppose whatever gets you through the night.

"We wish him/her well in their future endeavors."

That's how memos end, in some case that's the entire gist of memos, in my company when they are announcing that someone has been fired.

I'll be driving across town in a few minutes to attend a retirement party for a co-worker. I never really worked with her. She did some job no one ever really ever defined, but she was quiet, she had her own office, and no one asked too much about her duties because the one thing we were all certain of is that she was the person who handed out paychecks. Every two weeks she was everybody's best friend. Now after 22 years she's retiring.

This is the real life toll taken by direct deposit boys and girls.

I'm only kidding. I'm sure she's retiring of her own volition. Otherwise there wouldn't be a going away party. She'd be "disappeared by memo."

Before the days of email those memos would be posted on a bulletin board downstairs in my building. I came to call it the wall of blood. Each morning I'd come and check to see if there was a memo announcing that I was working with a new morning team. Occasionally that happened.

Anyway, this woman has worked at the company for 22 years; I'll have worked there 20 years in September. I don't think I'll ever retire though. I probably won't get the opportunity.

Most people in positions like mine leave less ceremoniously. It's the nature of the industry. Truthfully, staying at the same radio station for 20 years is not the industry norm by any standard. Most folks come to their senses after about three years and go find real jobs where you actually produce something of value or at the very least you don't have to wake up before the drunks are ordering two beers from the waitress knowing last call is only moments away.

Part of me sort of hopes that one day I'll be a doddering old newsman kept around either because no one is really sure who hired me or simply as low cost amusement for younger employees and I'll be able to keel over on the job. To the best of my knowledge we've never had any employees die at work. There have been a few close calls over the years, drug overdoses, heart attacks, panic attacks, full mental breakdowns, but no deaths. I'm in no hurry mind you, but it would be kind of cool for people to point to my little area while giving station tours and have them say, "See there...that's where Michael Main donated the liver pate."

Let me reinterate, I'm in no rush, but should I buy the pine condo...deanimate...shed the mortal reformatted by God...( okay I'll stop I promise)...If I were to face plant the meringue while on duty I would really like it if my tombstone was simple too. Maybe it could read:

Michael Main

"We wish him well in his future endeavors."