After writing what I did about gifts and flowers I was remembering the flowers Mother-of-witch received every June. A teacher, she was generally also a form teacher, and as such would be given flowers at the end of the school year. Lovely flowers, which we used to enjoy for about 24 hours, as we packed to go away for the summer.
And that was that.
But at least the Swedish way is to club together and buy a gift and flowers from the whole form. It’s the British teachers staggering home with 20 bouquets and 15 boxes of chocolate and assorted other things that I feel for. What if they need to go away?
I once worked at a lovely post office in central Gothenburg. I had hated it to begin with, but over time I grew to love it, so when the day came to leave (I was transferring to a new district, of my own choice) I was sad. They gave me a ceramic bowl, which I have only managed to break very slightly. It’s still with me. Apart from the chip by the glued-back-on rim.
They, too, gave me flowers. Tulips. I was moving the next day, so didn’t think the flowers would be able to come along. I put them in a vase in the breakroom for the time being. They looked lovely.
Until they didn’t look quite so lovely. They began drooping at an alarming speed. Because of the move I was philosophical about it.
I was eating my lunch when the caretaker came in. He asked if they’d given me any flowers. I said yes, and pointed to the terminal tulips. The poor man was shocked at how they were treating me, but I pointed out why I felt it was perfectly OK. We sat companionably, staring at the dreadful tulips until the ridiculousness of the situation hit us, and we howled with laughter.
As we sat there, gasping for breath, someone else came in, saw the flowers and exploded in fury over the lack of floral quality, and said I had to complain, but we just laughed until we cried.
That was one of the best exits I have ever made from anywhere. I think of those tulips, and I cry and I laugh and I miss the people I worked with.
(And I am still pondering why you need to know all this. There is plenty more material from this particular post office.)