Dear John and Emma,
When we were searching through our inboxes, trying to find something you sent us that might be funny to include in this farewell letter, we stumbled upon this email, which you sent to us when we both, coincidentally, did not turn in our articles on time:
“Hello, it’s us again.
We hope you had a pleasant Saturday. It is 5:43 p.m. Maybe you fell into the ocean, maybe you fell in love, but you sure didn’t write and submit your Features article for the 5 p.m. deadline that you agreed to. We are trying to edit, process, and print all of the submitted articles before tomorrow morning. You are late. Being on time is crucial, not just for this seemingly pesky assignment, but for life. If you do not send your article by 7 p.m., we will not read it. Have a good night.
John Wu and Emma Kelley.”
Reading that email, like reading many of the emails you send, was terrifying and bone-chilling, which makes the fact that you like us now (or at least tolerate us now) much more special. If you learn nothing else from your time overseeing us two lazy bums, let it be this: cold, calculated detachment and straightforwardness is a powerful and effective way to motivate and manipulate employees.
You used to be mean to us. Now, you’re still mean to us, but not as much as before. What else is there to say?
John, you like silly voices and repeating the same word over and over again until we either laugh or leave. Emma, you like referring to subordinates as “shrooms,” “peasants,” or “children.” For those small idiosyncrasies, we love you, and we’ll miss you. Both of you like putting us in our places and keeping us humble. For that, we’re grateful.
Collaborating with you was, a lot of the time, mostly just doing something by ourselves, finding out you didn’t like it, and then redoing it. Then again, every once in a while the four of us would come together and brainstorm something beautiful—something magical; we would assign our writers in a brilliantly worded, committee-written message; we would, upon reading their mediocre submissions, decide that it wasn’t worth it to work hard to rewrite them because not every week is going to be a winner and who really cares if an issue is kind of funny instead of hilarious.
You taught us a reasonable amount about Photoshop, InDesign, and the other programs The Phillipian uses every week, but the significant gaps in our knowledge and our time management skills are pretty disastrous. We guess that’s not your problem anymore, though, so what’s the point in telling you.
Thank you, John and Emma, for teaching us to take our section—and no one else’s—seriously, to demand a color page even when we don’t need one, not to pay attention during Board Meetings, and so much more.
Most of all, thank you for being forgiving. We made mistakes. A lot of them. There were all those times as writers where we didn’t hit our deadlines; there was that time we tried to bypass your authority and take total control of the section the first week we were associates; and, how could anyone forget, there was the time we told you our Inauguration spread was “just fine” when, in actuality, it was so inappropriate and libellous that we had to throw the whole thing out on Wednesday night.
But every time we messed up, you accepted us, with professionalism and a small, totally warranted dose of frustration.
We used to wish you would stop stealing our food, insulting our taste in music, and making arbitrary criticisms about the layout of our page; today we only wish you the best.
Charlie and Connor