DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I was laid off after six years, it was not unexpected -- there had been a change of ownership over a year ago, and it was only a matter of time until the entire "old management team" was replaced. I was actually thankful, considering how unhappy I had been, and the fact that I'm now eligible for unemployment insurance.
But I found that a number of people with whom I worked -- people whom I felt were more than "just work friends" -- have completely ignored me, and have not sent any word, either directly or second-hand, about my departure. Nothing expressing regret, or sadness, wishing me luck, or -- at a minimum -- saying how it was nice to work with me for so long.
One person in particular, who worked very closely with me for the entire time I was there, seems to have forgotten my existence. We have mutual friends who keep checking in with me, even asking me directly "Has she written you yet?" I hesitate to send messages through them, as it's not their place to get involved.
I also hesitate writing directly, for fear that my disappointment will show through, and instead of merely saying "It was a pleasure working with you," I'll somehow show my cards and express my own sadness, even though I know etiquette would rule this out.
Should I write? Perhaps just an innocuous holiday message, and see if she responds in kind? Or is this just my own selfish need for closure, and should I just write it off, knowing she was not the friend I thought she was?
GENTLE READER: She wasn't. Miss Manners can tell you that right now. But with today's workplace so riddled with pseudo-social customs and events, you are hardly the only one unable to distinguish your colleagues from your friends.
Did you see this lady socially, which is to say away from the workplace, not counting lunches, after-work drinks or work-related parties? Did you visit her home and did she visit yours?
You already know the answer to Miss Manners' ultimate test, which she suggests considering while still on the job: If you no longer worked at the same place, would the relationship continue?
Mind you, a colleague with whom you worked closely should have expressed appreciation for you when you left. That many neglect this, through callousness or irrational fear of contamination, is hurtful and rude.
But that those who have been thrown together through work should soon after lose interest in people whom they no longer see daily, and with whom they no longer have such common subjects as work and office gossip, is understandable. They were never really friends.
So while Miss Manners agrees that your colleague should have acknowledged your departure, she can relieve you of the bitterness of thinking that you have been deserted by a friend.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there a specific time in which a bride has to acknowledge wedding gifts with thank you notes?
GENTLE READER: When they arrive. Not, as arrogant rumors put it, a year later, when the giver has forgotten the purchase and remembers only the ingratitude. And not when she is miraculously no longer "busy," a time period that Miss Manners has never known to arrive.