It's my party and I won't go if I don't want to
August 13, 2011 3:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm leaving work under less than ideal circumstances, and I don't want a going-away party.

There was a round of layoffs at work, and I was the first in my area to be laid off. I wasn't the last hired, so I'm angry to be the first to go. After the lay off my company considered me for Job B, which I wanted. My company gave Job B to someone else, and offered me Job C with our sister company. I don't really want Job C, but the alternative is unemployment.

Considering the economy I'm happy to have Job C, but I'm not really happy about leaving my current job, and I'm not really happy to be going to Job C. I don't want to sit around at party with my current coworkers and hear empty platitudes, I just want to leave. Unfortunately, our secretary is a busybody who likes planning parties and has been pestering me to attend my going-away party.

I just want to leave my current job without a party because I don't think my circumstances are a reason to celebrate. How do I do that?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You'll be working at a sister company.
You might be seeing these people again.
Where is the upside in having your co-workers remember you
as the petulant guy who wouldn't attend his own party?
posted by the Real Dan at 3:28 PM on August 13, 2011 [20 favorites]

Unless you're so distressed that you're going to be having problems holding back rage or tears which would cause you to lose face, go to the stupid party and tough it out.

You will still be working for this company and your last impression will be as important as the first one. Don't blow it.
posted by tel3path at 3:32 PM on August 13, 2011 [5 favorites]

Seriously: This could be the reason you got laid off. Never underestimate the power of work social events. Really consider your plan of attack.

posted by Murray M at 3:32 PM on August 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

Interestingly, I'm also leaving my work and I'm not interested in a party because I don't like parties.

However, view this as an opportunity to say goodbye to everyone at one time (rather than going around to everyone's desks) in which you're not stuck talking to anyone for too long.
posted by k8t at 3:33 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

The times I've had to dissuade someone from throwing me a party, I just flat-out told the planner, politely but firmly, that I really don't want a party, it would make me incredibly uncomfortable, so please don't plan one. Don't be coy, don't beat around the bush, don't leave any room for misinterpretation. Because you don't want her to think you're just being modest, and get the idea that a surprise party would be "just the thing!"

When I've done this I could tell that the potential planner was a bit taken aback and maybe a little hurt, but they did back down. If you think the busybody is the sort to have her way no matter what you say, maybe a discussion with your boss is in order so that he/she can make sure people know that your leaving is to be kept low-key and discreet.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:34 PM on August 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

I agee that you should, if at all possible and especially if there is a chance of working with your company on projects, or moving back there again, deal with it and go to a short party. Would this be anything more than a half hour in a conference room, or an hour at a local restaurant?

If you can't do that: Make yourself scarce as soon as you can after the work day is over, starting as soon as you can (Monday.). Let anyone who wants to throw a party know that you are very busy not only doing what you can on your own time to learn Job C, but also learning how to fit in and hit the ground running at Sister Company, even if that's not true. Plus maybe a plausible family issue that just arose (and won't be remembered) in an unfortunate happenstance.

Offer your new (work) contact information to the party planners and tell them you'd love to be invited to any get together a few weeks down the line in order to reconnect with the "old crew". Attend or excuse yourself as you wish at that time.

If the party is to be held during business hours, simply make your thoughts known to your boss, but not in a way that makes it seem like your company owes you for accepting Job C. Fall back to the learning a new job and company culture issues plus your family/personal event that just sprung up and have the boss 86 the party.
posted by Science! at 3:39 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Someone got laid off at our company and (apparently) didn't want a party. We arranged something for him, not much, just some brownies and a card really. He took an early lunch and never came back. Seemed to work for him. Of course, everyone thinks of him as that jerk who ditched us and never said goodbye. And when we started hiring back people we'd laid off, he wasn't considered. But he didn't have to eat brownies and make small talk, so I guess it was a partial victory for him.

Not saying you should have to go to the party, just saying that you should be aware of what will happen if you blow it off for whatever reason, in whatever way.
posted by Garm at 3:47 PM on August 13, 2011 [24 favorites]

Hey - you still have a job! Celebrate that!
posted by mleigh at 4:06 PM on August 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

Did you every think this busy-body secretary plans any possible party because she know people like a break in the routine and free sugar?

I hate any kind of office party, especially the after hours kind, and this has been a minority opinion everywhere I work. Unless you can legitimately argue that child-care costs make the party impossible, suck it up
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:19 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

With these office busybody types sometimes you're better off conspiring with them, giving them something to do. So maybe take her aside and tell her how much you'd love a card signed by everyone or whatever, but not the party at the pub.
posted by jamesonandwater at 5:11 PM on August 13, 2011

Not going is going to send a message that you are unhappy and dislike these people. You don't have to go, but there's no way to not go and do so well. Just suck it up.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:59 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

We had a coworker leave under unusual circumstances and that person spoke to our boss, who emailed everyone to expressly state that there were to be no parties or cards or farewells. Maybe if you don't want to go, you can speak to your almost-ex-boss and ask them to send a memo.
posted by tracicle at 6:20 PM on August 13, 2011

These things are social obligations, like how you send thank-you notes to everyone who gives you gifts at your wedding. No, you don't have to do it, but you might very well run into someone like my (beloved, kind, wonderful) late great-aunt Peggy, who was still upset about not getting her thank-you note from my father's second marriage ten years later. Upset enough to gripe at the kid who was nine years old during the event in question, exactly two seconds after saying "oh, and how is your father doing these days, my dear, you know I always did like him so very much?"

I find, alas, that busybody secretaries are more likely to be that kind of person than the average person is. And the cardinal rule of success in the business world is to never, ever, ever piss off a secretary.

Think of it as an investment in the future, or payment for past transgressions, or an opportunity for free cake and gift cards. Alternatively, please don't say you weren't warned in advance.
posted by SMPA at 7:24 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not going, emailing bosses, taking the secretary aside to tell her you don't want it -- these things are all conspicuous and will make you a fodder for office gossip and jokes once you're gone. The world is small and it sounds like your organization is even smaller, what with you going to work in a sister company. Understand, nobody really cares about your departure or the party - for them it's ten minutes away from the desk, and some cake, never to be thought of again - but for you to make a big deal about it will be grist for the office mill forever. Just go.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:33 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm not a fan of the leaving party either. Luckily, I've been respected by my colleagues and bosses when I've said that I want to leave quietly and in some cases I've not even been completely open about my last working day so that I could "escape" quietly. I've been very touched by some of the kind and very low key fair well wishes that I've received.

Though I feel your pain I have to agree with others that in this case you really do just need to suck it up. You could speak with the person organizing it and let them know the sort of simple going away event that you would appreciate. It would take stress of your colleagues as well as many of them are probably in the same boat as you and probably want to keep the "do" short and sweet.

Perhaps you could convince the secretary to do something at a break on your last day - tea and cake in the afternoon before you bail.

I recall my mother calling in sick on her last day of work after putting in over 30 years with the organization. She refused any sort of retirement event or going away lunch/dinner whatever. I admit I found it very difficult. I was very proud of her accomplishments and it left me, the rest of our family and her colleagues feeling very empty. We recognized though that she wanted it that way and was likely stressed by the many changes that laid ahead of her.

You're not retiring and you will still be seen by some. You may want to start looking at your options if you don't like Job C but for now you still need to fit in - it's a bit of a game - it pays the bills - you are not alone.
posted by YukonQuirm at 9:40 PM on August 13, 2011

I tend to hate these things as well, but consider this: it probably isn't really your party. It is for them. Suck it up, let them have their cake and their last memory of their working relationship with you be a dull party, rather than you disappearing after lunchtime.
posted by gjc at 7:30 AM on August 14, 2011

I was laid off a few years back, and I didn't have a leaving party: it was difficult enough for me as it was without having everyone commiserating with me. But I made it quite clear from the start that I didn't want one, and people respected that. Instead, I did my job up to the end, then left work early without a fuss on the last day and sent a timed email to go out after I had gone, thanking everyone. I then had some drinks with people I wanted to keep in touch with the week after when I was on a better emotional footing about it.

I guess it is probably too late for that, so I would go with the majority verdict here and go along to the party, grit your teeth, eat cake and get through it. The party really isn't about you, it is about them, so respect that and tell them you'll be fine, that these things happen and that life goes on. Because, believe me, it does...
posted by baggers at 7:54 AM on August 14, 2011

Tell her you're really uncomfortable about having any sort of event because you feel so self-conscious at parties, esp. if you have to be the center or attention, and if she really, really wants to plan something, could she make it quite short and simple.
posted by theora55 at 11:54 AM on August 14, 2011

I don't think they're having a party to celebrate, I think they're having a party because they *like* you and want to do something a bit more fun/social the last time you're all together, and actually acknowledge that you won't be with them anymore. Seeing it in the spirit it was intended may help.
posted by lifethatihavenotlivedyet at 1:25 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cancel the party, invite everyone to a happy hour after work instead. Much more relaxed and self-selecting against non-annoying coworkers, and you can also invite your own friends or s.o. or whoever. You can leave whenever you want and nobody can blame you for being a wet blanket.
posted by yarly at 7:36 PM on August 14, 2011

Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
I've decided to go to my party, and just let the secretary know when my last day is so she can pick a date. I think the Real Dan, SakuraK, and lifethatihavenotlivedyet provided the best answers. Thanks for the help.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:11 AM on August 15, 2011

I think you can just tell the busybody directly that you do not like a party. But you offer to buy cookies and a note to say goodbye that way. Maybe people in your company do not care about having the awkward party for you anyway. So a easier arrangement can be good for everybody.
posted by akomom at 1:18 PM on August 19, 2011

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