I’m leaving my job soon. Not because I want to, but because it’s time.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where the average price of a house is like 890 million dollars, and after nine years of consistently making just a tad less than that, it’s time to leave The Bubble.
I’ve been reflecting on what it’s like to say goodbye to a job I love and a place I’ve worked at for so many years. And, because I’m me, I likened it to what baseball players must experience when they decide to leave the game.
Like a retiring ballplayer, I don’t want to stop playing the game, but it’s time.
While five years at my job is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the long careers of people like Derek Jeter or David Ortiz, it’s still bittersweet to walk away from this place I love.
So as I approach my final days, I wonder: What if I went out like a retiring baseball player? Here’s what that might look like.
Step 1: Give an inappropriate amount of notice to truly milk the farewell
The concept of the farewell tour has been around for some time, but only recently did it become the spectacle we’ve come to expect. Former Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones announced in March 2012 that the season would be his last. He was the first player to receive gifts from each opposing team during his final year. This started the tradition of extravagant farewell tours, and we have now seen this play out with Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and David Ortiz, each giving more notice than the last.
In November 2015, David Ortiz announced that he would retire at the end of the 2016 season. That gave fans and other players almost a year to lavish him with presents, compliments, and offers to name first-born children after him. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. I gave a little over two months notice and already have many lunches, happy hours, and going away parties on the books. No regrets, except maybe I should’ve given myself more time.
Now if you, dear reader, intend to pull this off at your place of employment, first confirm that you are perceived as a high performer, and maybe even an inspiration. Only a select few are worthy of the true farewell tour. Are you beloved like Jeter or are you merely tolerated like some 39-year-old journeyman whose absence prompts people to say things like, “Where’s that one guy? Is he still on the bus? Oh, he retired? Oh, he retired last year?”
Step 2: Two words: highlight reel
Every farewell tour worth its salt features heartwarming videos of the guest of honor. Probably because it’s nice for people to remember when Jeter could field a ground ball without needing an ice pack and a post-game massage. I kid, I kid.
Sadly, my office is not equipped with a jumbotron to display my moments of glory, which is unfortunate because who doesn’t want to see a video of someone furiously responding to emails, swearing at Excel, making bad jokes, and telling people no. I hope they use a Journey song for the background music.
Step 3: Disavow being a distraction, but start a gift registry
You don’t want to be a distraction, but you announced your retirement several months in advance. That statement is as incongruent as your responses to compliments and gifts should be. When other departments insist on a moment of silence in your honor at the beginning of meetings, act sheepish but super into it. When they shower you with large and extravagant gifts, protest but hold your hand to your heart and shed a single tear.
If I’ve learned anything from baseball farewell tours, it’s that you should start a gift registry to optimize your chances of actually getting cool stuff. Remember that the Houston Astros gave Big Papi a cowboy hat and the Tampa Bay Rays gave Mariano Rivera a really effed-up looking sand sculpture. Chipper Jones received third base from three teams. (Just gonna sidestep that double entendre like the mature person I am.) My point is, a little careful planning will help you avoid duplicates or a terrifying effigy of yourself.
Step 4: Give back to the people
You’ve received heaps of gifts and praise, so it’s only fair to give back. Maybe set up a table outside the break room and sign autographs during lunch? A respectful hat tip as you exit rooms also goes a long way. If people applaud as you walk back into your office, take your curtain call. You’ve earned it.
Step 5: Get a #hashtag
All the greats have a nifty hashtag these days. Jeter had #RE2PECT. I like it. It’s short and snappy, and he’s one of the few professional athletes to have enjoyed a long career without embarrassing himself or his family to the point of personal collapse. I’m thinking that my hashtag should be #J1ll, for Jill’s #1, but I’m open to suggestions.
It’s best if someone else comes up with your hashtag because otherwise you’ll sound like that one friend who has been trying to get everyone to call him by a stupid nickname that’s never gonna happen. As the old saying goes, “If someone else toots your horn, it sounds twice as loud.”
As my time here winds down, I am savoring the remainder of my own farewell tour, but I’m also happy to not have to rent an extra U-Haul to transport random items like cowboy hats, surfboards, rocking chairs made out of broken bats, and the like. Yeah, on second thoughts, I’ll forgo a baseball-style farewell tour and just enjoy happy hour with colleagues who have become friends.
Goodbye Bay Area, it’s time for me to retire from the game.