Retirement Parties Just Got a lot More Fun

Nothing jazzes up a dreary retirement function like a rhyming tribute. Whether recited or sung, a poem about a beloved colleague takes the ho hum out of hum drum and gives a long career the sheen it deserves.

Which would you rather hear about yourself at the good-bye party?
“She ran meetings very well, using her organizational and leadership skills to stay on schedule.”


“She ran a mean meeting, let everyone talk,

As long as the talk didn’t drown out the clock.”

Here’s a little story about Charlie Bloggs:


Charlie Bloggs has worked in the accounting office from the time he was a newly minted CPA, and his wife was pregnant with Chucky Junior.  He climbed his way up the departmental ladder, earning his MBA in the evenings mid-career, and taking home extra work whenever the company was audited.  Colleagues say about Charlie, “he’s sharper than a Number 2 pencil.” They say he never makes the same mistake twice.


After twenty-five years of service, Charlie Bloggs is taking early retirement. He is rewarded for his dedication by his grateful employer with a small departmental dinner, where he is presented with a handsome carriage clock engraved with the dates of his employment. It is meant to be displayed on his mantelpiece. Charlie has never heard of a carriage clock before. He doesn’t even have a fireplace. Charlie’s taste runs to Danish contemporary. The engraved carriage clock would look terribly out of place in his sparsely furnished living room. Charlie intends to wrap up the clock in newspaper and store it carefully in the attic in a cardboard box labeled FRAGILE, alongside the Murano sherry glasses he and the wife bought in Venice, and the swan-shaped vase they got as a wedding present from his spinster aunt, Bertha Bloggs.


Now that Charlie and his HP calculator are gone, what do his colleagues remember about him? Do they remember how fast he could calculate accelerated depreciation?  How thoroughly he conducted due diligence on perpetual inventory? No, all that they remember about Charlie Bloggs is, he didn’t know what a carriage clock was.


Had Charlie been celebrated with a rhyming tribute, he might not have needed to take his carriage clock up the ladder to the attic, from which he fell last week, breaking his leg in three places.  He might be lounging poolside right now, re-reading the touching tribute his boss commissioned for him. Instead, Charlie is immobilized on the living room couch, staring at a broken carriage clock wrapped in last week’s newspaper.


Imagine a new start-up, doubling sales and counting
But while production grew, there was a problem in accounting

The balance sheet resembled a bridge score run amok
And as for fiscal forecasts, we were well and truly stuck

Ironically, financially, our state was truly sorry
In Fiscal Years BC, which is short for “Before Charlie.”

Charlie rose to the occasion! He shifted our position
From in the dark to in the black: subtraction to addition!

When Charlie joined the company, the books were unbelievable, yes
But what we saw as unpaid bills, he saw as trade receivables

Sharper than a Number Two, he’s always on the ball
He never makes the same gaffe twice, if he makes a gaffe at all!

(Throughout the next few stanzas, you’d have a host of jokes
About beloved Charlie, provided by the folks

Who worked for years as colleagues of this legend in his time–
And he would know how prized he was, and all of it in rhyme.)

For Charlie Bloggs is everything you need in an accountant
Everything you’ve ever had, everything you’ve wanted

But now it’s time to say farewell to Charlie and his talents
And hope he leaves a legacy of books that always balance!

Now isn’t this a better use of precious petty cash?
And wouldn’t Charlie long remember his retirement bash?

So leave the carriage clocks to those with less imagination
And give the Charlies of this world a fitting celebration!


December 24, 2008 at 8:10 am Leave a comment

Why rhyme?

Why rhyme a tribute? Rhyme brings a discipline to writing that other media cannot. It heightens the effort to find the best possible turn of phrase–it requires a level of concentration that is hard to imitate in prose writing. Rhyme demands more of the author, and receives more in return! If done well, rhyme can delight and surprise. If done less well, it can be predictable and excruciating.  That’s why it takes every bit of effort to do it right.

December 24, 2008 at 8:07 am Leave a comment

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