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The Group Card

Posted By Eter Venouziou, Friday, November 11, 2011
Updated: Saturday, November 12, 2011
This might be hard to understand if you haven't been laid off, but it kind of sucks not getting the official group farewell. Yeah, I'm writing about that  sometimes (often?)  awkward & cheesy office goodbye party, where your boss says how great you are and how you will be missed, and then you get up and say how great your boss and everyone else there is, and how you will miss them. The party where everyone reminisces about the old times, asks about your new endeavors, eats cake.

And of course, what comes with the office farewell is the office group card. The one that gets passed around the office for everyone to sign, the one filled with congratulatory notes, along with the occasional inside joke. The one you read during the party, then toss in an old shoe box or filing cabinet when you get home. But then years later you're decluttering, and you come across the card and it makes you smile.

When you get laid off, there is no office party and there is no goodbye group card.

• • •

A few weeks after I got laid off from the St. Petersburg Times, I got a card in the mail from my friend Jeff Cercone. Jeff and I worked together about 10 years ago in Fort Lauderdale, at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Jeff was the guy who liked to pick on everyone, and the one who was always there to pick up the pieces when needed. Mostly, he drove me crazy. And he was my best friend there.

I left the Sun-Sentinel in 2003 to come to the Times. A year or two later Jeff left for the Chicago Tribune. We stayed in touch, but you know how things go, people move and drift apart, and the conversations go from daily to weekly to monthly, until eventually all you come to expect is a call around each other's birthday.

But being out of touch doesn't mean being out of mind. It doesn't mean you stop caring.

• • •

I opened the envelope, and inside was a card (and a Visa gift card! Thanks!)  from Jeff and several of our friends from the Sun-Sentinel days, friends who these days are scattered all over the country: Dave Horn, now at The New York Times; Ryan and Martha Smith, Chicago Tribune, Jeff Loudy, Washington Post; Ed Milloy (one my favorite supervisors of all times), still at the Sun-Sentinel; and Valentina Djelisovic, also from the Chicago Tribune.

I read the card and reminisced about the old times: camping out in the newsroom in 1999, when we thought Hurricane Irene was going to come straight up the East Coast and destroy all our homes; having omelettes at the Floridian or drinks at Maguire's (or Murphy's Law or Le Tub), almost every other night after work.

I read the card and it made me smile.

Are you starting over after a layoff? We want to hear your story! Please email us at, and include your story and contact info. We will try to include as many stories as possible in future blogs.

Ester Venouziou, founder of and co-founder of Gulfport! Magazine, is available for freelance projects: writing, editing, design or social media. She can be reached at or 727.637.5586.

Tags:  newspaper  newspaper friends  newspaper layoffs  south florida sun-sentinel  sun-sentinel staff 

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