By Sean Coughlan
BBC News Magazine
France's football hero Zinedine Zidane ended his glorious career in spectacular style - getting a red card for headbutting an opponent in the World Cup final. How are you meant to leave the office in a way that won't be forgotten? Here are some ideas... and send us your suggestions.
A different kind of leaving card
1. Use your leaving speech to deliver a verbal Zidane-style headbutt. Affairs, expenses scams, inflated bonuses, wigs, how the place has gone to the dogs. Feel the room get colder than an eskimo's beer fridge as you give them your wit and wisdom.
2. Leave a challenge for your successor. When President Bush's staff took over the White House they complained that the Ws were missing from the computer keyboards (as in George W Bush) and that an office had been renamed Office of Strategerie.
3. If David Beckham can cry when he's leaving his job (as England captain) then so can I. Don't. Bad move. Nothing is going to fill an office with more horror than the prospect of Jeff from accounts showing emotion. It's not what open plan is about.
4. Leaving speech II. Talk at interminable length about your own glittering career - that time you really showed them who was boss over the faulty photocopier - and deliver rambling anecdotes about characters who left years ago. Just keep talking, it's your last day. What are they going to do? Sack you? You've listened to them for long enough. Look, I can just keep going...
OK for Becks, not at the office
5. Hand your identity dog tag to the craziest frother in the shopping centre and tell them where they can get free coffee and meet lots of new and hospitable friends.
6. The Mozambique chardonnay has all been drunk at the leaving party, they're playing the get-your-coat-on music ... and that special co-worker is just about to say a final goodbye. But it's never, ever a good idea to tell someone you've worked with for 20 years that you love them. Life isn't a Christmas special edition of The Office. It's much more cruel.
7. When you read your leaving card there's always a great big signature and a message from someone you've never heard of. Find out who they are and promise to meet them for a drink... since you're such big friends. It'll scare the hell out of them.
8. Check your e-mail in-tray for the bitchiest messages from your colleagues - you know, the ones slagging off people in earshot - and then threaten to send them out to the entire organisation. Watch your leaving present fund grow and grow.
9. Refuse to admit that you're leaving and just carry on as if nothing has happened and that you'll be there forever. This is technically known as "the Prescott".
10. That "exit" interview. This will be the first time you've come across the gleaming 20-storey office block occupied by floor upon floor of the "human resources" team. It's your big chance to tell them exactly... Are they listening? Hello?
Send us your ideas for marking your departure using the form below.
On my leaving card one person had scrawled "hope you enjoy your new life!" I wouldn't mind, but I was leaving the career I loved because I had been ordered to by the doctors, after developing an incurable illness, and my colleagues all knew this... thankfully my boss, who visited me to deliver it, apologised.
Mary, Midlands, UK
I once left a pound and a half of frozen squid in the heating duct of a former manager's office on the day that I left. Maybe its impact wasn't as violent as Zidane's but it certainly was powerful!
One of the first retirement dos I encountered was similar to number 1 on your list. The retiree listened to the glowing speech from the boss, received the obligatory card and cheque and then launched into a speech that began with "If I was as good as you've just said why have I always been passed over for promotion?" He then continued with a tirade that left nobody unscarred, telling everyone what a useless bunch of good for nothings they all were. He then walked out (leaving his card and cheque behind) never to be seen again.
When I lived and worked in America I decided to buy a handgun. It takes several days for the checks to be carried out, so I had a date to pick the gun up. I put this on my diary at work. I was asked to leave before this, and when my computer was searched, 'pick up gun' and 'meet with manager' were scheduled for the same day. I didn't have to do anything, that scared him enough (it was sheer coincidence)
Andy Staves, Andover
I once worked in a company that had a large staff restaurant full of people who worked very hard for very little money. The head chef, after complaining vocally that his staff were underpaid was 'constructively dismissed' - ie they made his life so miserable he left with a nervous breakdown. On his last day he retrieved the gallon of milk and vegetable scraps he had left by the stove for a week and tipped it on the director's new suit saying "This is what it feels like to get dumped on" (actually he didn't use the word dumped, but you get the idea). The sound of 200 people trying not to applaud is an interesting one.
Nick Ellis, Herne Bay
More of a hello story than a goodbye: the store manager where I worked part time as a teenager had a false arm from the elbow down. When he greeted new employees for the first time with a handshake he would occasionally loosen the prosthetic limb so that it came off in the recipients hand. Great for breaking the ice.
When I left my last job, the IT director gave a nice little speech about me, then I gave a little speach including a couple of funny anecdotes. However, when I said goodbye to the IT Director at the end of the day he shook my hand and said "... all the best for the future, if things don't work out in your new job then just give me a call and we'll all have a good laugh at you." I didn't say anything back, I just walked away - I don't waste my energies on people like that. It just showed what his true colours are.
I'd stand up and thank our MD for the lack of support he's given over the year and endless nit-picking remarks I've had to endure week in week out through gritted teeth! I'd tell the gathered masses that parking on-site isn't the do-or-die issue they make it, that coffee from every coffee machine in the world is crap and that if you put curled up paper in the photocopier it will JAM EVERY TIME! I'd tell the management team that people don't judge them on the size of their office, but on what they do in the damn thing. I'd tell the Director's PA that if she has internal post to deliver to get off her backside and deliver it instead of phoning down and telling others to come and collect it! I'd tell the boys in the factory to concentrate on the job and stop staring at every female who passes - yes we have legs and boobs - get over it! I'd tell the sales rep that we all know he fiddles his mileage and that he's useless in bed. I'd tell the girls on reception that no they can't help and to say it at a pitch that humans can hear. I'd tell the people in finance to stop penny pinching and give me enough budget to do my job properly. And finally I'd tell my staff to stop moaning and get on with life - if you hate it that much, do us all a favour and leave. Am I having a bad Monday? Duh, YES!
The best leaving speech I can remember was actually from one of the bosses. Being a bit nervous about giving the speech, the boss had a few 'nerve calming' Cavas from the drinks trolley. Finally stepping up to deliver the somewhat unprepared speech, she proceeded to ramble about the size of the departing staff member's boobs and how she had once picked up a trucker in a bar on a work conference.... Suffice to say we haven't ever heard from the ex-employee again... and the boss is on the soft drinks from now on!
Despite handing in my notice to my boss four weeks earlier, he appeared to have totally forgotten I was leaving - I was still getting two and three week assignments right up to the last day. Having been to the pub at lunch, I got back to work, picked up my jacket handed my boss my ID and said 'I've had enough, I quit' and walked out of the building. I don't know if he remembered I was leaving at that point, but the look on his face will stay with me for years.
I once left a job and spent my last day wearing a summer dress and blue curly wig. (I'm 6' and a big guy). Lots of people took photos but the joke was ultimately on me as a year later I re-joined the company to find that picture on my desk!
A chap in our office recently left and was tasked to hire his own replacement. In what appears to have been an advanced form of practical joke he seems to have hired the most banal, irritating and generally annoying person who's CV crossed his inbox. Thanks then.
Remember that when you've gone, you'll be blamed in absentia for everything anyone can possibly clear out of their own cupboard-full-of-skeletons, so leaving a few of your own to come back and haunt them may not be that bad an idea.
Before I left my job as Publications Officer for a bureaucratic government quango, I edited one last issue of the organisation's newsletter so that the initial letters of all the news stories spelled out a somewhat graphical description of precisely where they could stick their job.
A former colleague, upon leaving, was asked to give a leaving/Thank-you speech but replied: "My mum always told me that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." before walking off.
At one of my previous workplaces, the obligatory 'Thank you for the card, gift, etc' letter from a departing software engineer contained a massive plug for his new company and a HR phone number for anyone who'd like to follow in his footsteps ("if you'd like to work for a professional organisation..."). It didn't last long on the notice board, but I think several xeroxes may have been taken before its mysterious disappearance.
Rich West, Bristol
Well, I'm leaving my job on Wednesday so I have read this article with great intrest! I think I might go for a combo of number 1 and number 8 - great fun especially since I'm the office gossip and everyone tells me the dirt! If I were brave enough I would do the same as Alan's workmate!
Roxanne Mugridge, Petersfield
Faking a hideous suicide or pretending your going to mow everyone down with a machine gun might be an interesting end to a leaving speech if you think your ex-colleagues have a sense of humour.
I think my favorite is what I plan to do. I have a "boss" who claims a lot of the work done is because of him, when really it's me. When I've travelled for work, I leave a list of jobs I'm working on, but he never works on them and claims he never received them. So when I quit, not only will he have to do that work himself, his boss will also be getting a BCC of all the work I've tasked for him plus a nice long letter detailing what's really gone on back here . . . :) I'm not mad at the company, just my boss.
Page, Orlando, Florida, USA
Finally admit to your bosses that you've been spending all your time at work writing pithy comments to Magazine articles.
Theo Cupier, Amersham
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