I was at someone’s leaving do last night.
I’ve only been in this job a little while so I don’t know him very well, but a works leaving do is a thing everyone goes to regardless of who it is or how well they know them. You turn up and have a drink and laugh about people you work with who are currently out of earshot at the other side of the bar, and then at some point you get 30 seconds with the actual person who’s leaving so you can say things like “good luck” and “it’s been really great working with you”. You know how it is.
At about 11, not long before he left, I bumped into Jon (who is leaving) and got 30 seconds with him before he was whisked away by someone else. “Good luck”, I said. “It’s been really great working with you”.
The normal thing at this point is for the person who is leaving to say something like “yeah, you too” and “I’ll probably see you again at someone else’s leaving do before long”, and then you laugh heartily, and then your 30 seconds are up.
That’s why I was very surprised when Jon went completely off script and said “keep writing those Mr Smith books, they’re fucking hilarious. You’ll have to send me the next one if you do any more.”
I didn’t have a reply ready for this highly improbable situation, so I floundered for a moment without knowing what to say, and then my 30 seconds were up and he was whisked away to another little group of people, waving and enthusiastically thumbs-upping me as he went. Presumably it was their turn to say “good luck” and “it’s been really great working with you”.
I doubt any of them had ever read the adventures of Mr Smith. But then, I didn’t think Jon had, so maybe they had. Maybe everyone has. I don’t really know what to expect any more.