‘Goodbye, Michael’

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Wendy Hodge

By Wendy Hodge

There was an Office marathon last night on the Comedy Channel, as there often is. Insomnia was plaguing me again, and so I played a game I frequently play in the wee hours of the morning – I fondly refer to it as “How Many Lines of This Episode of The Office Can I Quote Verbatim?”

Sometimes I do this with my eyes closed (just to show off to myself), but then I miss the comedic genius of Steve Carrell’s expressions and the perfection that is a classic ‘Jim Halpert look’ tossed in the direction of the camera.

Just as I was about to doze, one of the best episodes of the entire series started – ‘Goodbye, Michael.’ If you’re a fan of The Office, you have the same love/hate relationship with this episode as I do. If you’re not a fan, I beg of you… please watch the entire series. Be patient with the first season. Let it grow on you, and I promise that by the time you reach Season 7, Episode 22 your heart will be just as invested as those of us who truly love this show and you will weep when Michael leaves. His staff thinks he is leaving the next day, but he’s scheduled a flight a day early. They don’t realize the whole day is his own private goodbye to everyone and everything he loves about The Office.

I lay there last night, with Elvis breathing in my ear, reciting Michael’s last “That’s what she said.” And this morning, I’m sitting at my desk, knowing that today is my very own last day at the office. It’s supposed to be tomorrow, the day that I clock out for the last time. But I’ve decided that I just can’t do a whole day of goodbyes. Nobody knows it yet, but today is my own ‘Goodbye, Michael’ day.

A goodbye looming over your head has the power to make routine, mundane things seem bittersweet. I find myself silently reciting a chorus of “This is the last time I….” It’s the last time I ask my co-workers how their weekend was; the last time I eat lunch at this table; and the last time I put this headset on and get ready to answer Monday morning phone calls. It’s the last time Misty gives me a call list with my name written in blue highlighter with hearts dancing in the corner of the page. And in a few hours, it will be the last time I hang up my headset and clock out.

There will be no more early mornings huddled around the latest Scentsy delivery, inhaling while we ooh and ahh. No more fits of giggles that make it impossible to talk on the phone. No more yawns and stretches and “Is this day ever gonna end?!” No more Friday afternoon Sno Biz runs. No more catered meals and Dunkin Donuts from drug reps.

There is so much that I will miss. And so much that I have to be thankful for.

I will miss the sweet British lady who calls to verify her appointment in those lilting London tones.  I will miss the themed costumes for Halloween – zombies, mermaids, and Game of Thrones. I will miss the way we’ve all learned to communicate with our eyes from behind our masks. (It’s amazing how much you can convey with an arched eyebrow or a wink.)

I will miss hearing Kristen in her office, sometimes laughing and sometimes venting, but always ending up smiling and laughing. She is smart and rock steady in a crisis.

I will miss Laura…. Sweet, soft-spoken Laura. She is one of the kindest people I know. She puts up with so much from unhappy patients, but she does it with grace and a smile.

I will miss Nae. She is new here. She’ll be the one to move to my desk and sit in my chair. She’ll pick up where I left off, and she will do a fabulous job. She is quiet but funny, and I wish I’d had a chance to know her longer.

I will miss William – the youngest guy in the office. He is witty and fun and loves ‘The Office’ almost as much as I do. He speaks the language of sarcasm beautifully and always makes me laugh.

I will miss Misty. So much. She is warm and generous. Her laugh is as big as mine, and she is a morning person like me. I will miss that laugh. I will miss the way she would place a mountain of work on my desk, smile and pat the stack while actually saying the words “pat pat.” I will miss the way her eyes light up when Wilton’s catered breakfast arrives. I will miss her colored sticky notes and rainbow highlighters. I will miss arriving at work to find the back door propped open and smoke hanging heavy in the kitchen because Misty likes her bacon “dark.”

Mostly, I will miss her words. She speaks Southern, but so fast that I can’t always keep up. I have a scrapbook with all my “Misty sayings” saved along with pictures of her in her Eeyore costume and with the bucket on her head from Sno Biz. There are selfies with filters and selfies from our office night out at Wild Wing Café. There’s the poster her girls made to welcome me when I stayed with them last year. And there are thank you notes and notes meant to encourage me when the world gets hectic.

Now I’ve packed my vase full of seashells, my sapphire blue handmade bowl that held my paper clips, and the picture of me and Tim on a late night boat ride. It’s time to clock out and tell them all “See you tomorrow!” when what I’m really saying is, “Goodbye. Thank you all for everything. I will miss you.”

I’m so glad we’ve had this time together.

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