The tradition in the Foreign Service is to have a farewell party and give a eulogy about everyone leaving. Seriously, it is rather funereal and a little horrifying to have to listen to people trying to say nice things about everyone especially when you know that one of the people they are lauding is a despicable human being and everyone is happy she is leaving or that another one cheated on his wife with someone else present at the farewell and caused a huge scandal or that a third is leaving the service bitter after not being promoted for the umpteenth time. No, that last one is not me. But you get the idea. What I hadn't realized so clearly until recently is how undiplomatic this whole process is.
You see, what FSOs forget is that there is a large portion of State Department employees who never move. Local staff, whom we rely on to stay at a post and help us run things, make connections with local officials, and interpret for us when we're giving an important briefing--they stay put. And the same with Civil Servants here in DC. Every year they see new people come in and every year they say good-bye to more and listen to the long horrible speeches which gloss over the truth and act like we FSOs are all some kind of saviors and nothing worked before we parachuted in and how will the office ever survive once we leave? Except that there are very talented people who come and stay and do the same work as we do and don't get gushed over every couple of years. This needs a remedy. I'll start with a pledge to never hold a stupid farewell party with awful speeches. Who's with me?
Farewell parties are not better than a brownie, but then neither is finding a bear in your hammock.