Cards for Coworkers

John Hancock's signatureWhenever something happens to someone at work – they get hired, they get married, they get sick, their child graduates, their parent dies, they retire, whatever – someone buys a card, passes it around, and everyone has to sign it.

This annoys me. I don’t like cards in the first place, and I certainly don’t see the need for 30+ people to all write variations of the same theme. Examples:

  • We’ll miss you!
  • You’ll be missed!
  • We miss you already!
  • Won’t be the same without you!
  • Please don’t go!
  • Blah blah blah!

For years I’ve tried to be creative and original, but now I just don’t care. It’s not that I like my coworkers any less – I just don’t see any value in these cards.

As you might expect, with most of my coworkers, this argument doesn’t hold water. So, I came up with a new card signing strategy.

I noticed that, after half or whatever of the staff have signed the card, pretty much everything you could say has already been said. Subsequent coworkers always read the previous comments and react, “oh, so-and-so already said what I was going to say.” (As if this matters.)

But it occurred to me that when the person of honor reads the card, they have no idea who signed first or last. So since the signing order doesn’t matter, I try to make sure whatever I write will be read first. That way, even if I steal the most sentimental message already written in the card, the person reading the card will read mine first, and then when they see the other one, they’ll think, “oh, person #2 just copied that.”

Tactics for primary visibility:

  • Write in large letters
  • Write in a bright and/or unusual color
  • Write your message in the top-center of the card
  • Include a little artistic squiggly design or wavy underlines or flowers doodle next to what you write
  • Of course, make sure your name is large and legible

This strategy requires a fine balancing act. You need to wait until most other people have signed the card, so you have the most material to chose from. However, the longer you wait, the less space you’ll have for a large letters, and the more chance all the prime spots will be taken.

But again, if you sign too early, someone could pull this trick on you so that their message is the first one the person will read. You can’t let that happen – you’ve worked far too hard appearing to be sincere.

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