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4:27pm on Monday, 1st February, 2010:

Leaving Presents


It was Dick Williams' leaving do at the university today, but I didn't attend.

This isn't because I don't like Dick, because I do — I've know him for years. He did his MSc when I was first starting out as a lecturer and I taught him on my Prolog course (in his words, "back in the days when I had hair"). The reason I didn't attend was not because of whose leaving do it was; rather, it's that I never attend any such get-togethers at the university, no matter whose they are. I never sign any cards nor contribute to leaving presents, either.

I used to, back when I was a lecturer in the 1980s, before I left to make a fortune in industry (which, to be fair, I did — just not for me). I would go to all these leaving events, sign all the cards and contribute towards all the leaving presents. Even though most people only contributed 50p, I used to contribute £1 (which was like £2 in today's money). I remember one occasion when a secretary (they were called secretaries back then) came round collecting for the present of another secretary who was leaving to have a baby after having only worked in the department for six months. She got £1 from me, too.

The reason I vividly remember contributing to this particular secretary's leaving present was that this was my own last day at the university. I didn't get a leaving do, nor a leaving present, nor even a card. I got a P45 from the accounts office, but that was it. I felt a bit let down, to be honest.

As a result, when I returned to work at the university 15 years later, I vowed not to attend any leaving do, nor sign any leaving card, not contribute to any leaving present, no matter whose it was. The late Bob Monkhouse used to say something like, "I always go to other people's funerals, because if I don't go to theirs, they won't come to mine". Well, I went to their funerals and they didn't come to mine, so now I don't go to theirs either.

What? Me? Bitter?

Referenced by Giving and Receiving.

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).