Saturday, May 31, 2014

I like the hail part better.

As I mentioned last week, it's the beginning of "hail and farewell" season. Really just the farewell part which always comes first. And I hate that part. You would think that being an experienced Foreign Service Officer that by now I would be good at them. But I'm not. I stink at farewells. My coping method of choice is to pretend that they are not happening. This works pretty well, actually, because so far, I've served twice at one post and went back TDY to the other one, so I've been able to see a lot of people again whom I said farewell to before. Also, there is FSI where all FSOs end up eventually and I always run into someone at the cafeteria. And finally, there is facebook so I can at least see photos of my friends' cats. This is Grumpy Cat, not owned by any of my friends, but you get the idea.

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.


Yep. That is a black bear hanging out in someone's backyard in Florida--literally. Makes me very glad I don't have a hammock. Or woods. It would take a lot of work for a bear to break into our yard, get into the garage, and then drag out the chairs to lounge in. I know this because it is apparently beyond the  capacity of the children to find the chairs, so I'm certain the bear would have a tough time. And also there is The Dog. She would so take on that bear. That's her backyard and there is not a cat or a bird or a baby that is allowed in it. So I'm guessing no bears, either.


  1. Our farewells here in Lome tend to involve lots of speeches by the LES, since there just aren't that many Americans here. We just tend to have too many--we'll have the person's personal party, the official goodbye in the Embassy, AND a happy hour at the Marine House. (Not to mention that the staff of a bigger section will also tend to do something.) Too much.

  2. I guess I shouldn't complain then because it would be much, much harder to pretend I'm not leaving at more than one party.