Hugging yourself into a corner

I work in an office with a marginally high turnover rate. That means that every few months a valued team-member leaves the company, leading to requisite farewell lunches, emails, and, eventually the Final Goodbye. That last part can get tricky.

Here’s the scene: The soon-to-be ex-employee is just about to leave. They are surrounded by co-workers of various levels of familiarity. Then there are hugs. He gets a hug, then she gets a hug. It’s all very warm-hearted and congenial. Then they get to that one person with whom they are “friends” but is also someone they’d rather not hug. A look of panic ensues. They realize that they have hugged themselves into a corner. Okay, I admit it, it’s me. I am rather physically appalling, just sort of lumpy and grotesque. Unhuggably grotesque.

Some are able to handle the situation with aplomb: to forestall any greater physical contact, they sacrifice a hand, opting for a high five or a handshake. Others aren’t so lucky. They either back off, which makes them feel bad for making things “weird,” or they go for it with the kind of expression on their face similar to the one they’d have if they’d just swallowed a bug. And that is horrible.

For the good of the ex-coworker, and for the good of the group, it is important for the unhuggable person be a decent human being. Their role in this situation is to take a step back and say, “Eh, I’m not really a hugger.” Yes, this will still make things weird, but that’s okay because it’s the weirdo who’s making things weird, and thus the unspoken rules of the social situation remain in place.

But just to be safe, try to avoid hugging yourself into a corner. Either harden your heart, and learn to laugh and say “Oh, hell no,” without feeling bad about it. If you can’t do that, at least scan the area for icky people before you start dispensing goodbye hugs. Your arms will thank you.

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Hugging yourself into a corner

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