Hollywood assistants like goodbye emails. The average shelf life of a Hollywood assistant on a desk is roughly 365 days – just long enough to learn as much as you can before the job becomes repetitive. When that day comes to move onward and upward, we’re thinking not of the last lunch, requisite celebratory happy hour, or awkward goodbye hug with the old boss. What we’re most concerned with is our farewell.
There are stakes in sending out a goodbye email, especially when you’re working at a huge company where it seems like a new assistant leaves every day. Do you go for humor? Irony? Do you play it straight? Mock your coworkers? Defer to Youtube? Attach a jpeg? This is your legacy; you have to make it count.
I remember my days long ago at an unnamed agency. I was a recent Los Angeles transplant, wide eyed and green, trying to figure out the scene. I sat next to the assistant I was replacing (let’s just call her Jane), watching her in her final few minutes on the desk as she planned her goodbye. She was no fuss, no fanfare, and pure genius:
She hit send, grabbed her bag, wished me the best of luck, and walked out the door. Within minutes, her (now my) inbox was flooded with replies, congratulating her making it out alive, and on the quirky brevity of her email. It was there, in my beginning moments at my new job, that I realized the importance of the ending.
Over the course of my year at the agency, I came across a million different types of kiss-offs: yearbook entries (J – remember the morning trips to Coffee Bean? K –I’ll miss our cig breaks in the back alley!), heartfelt missives (I never knew my coworkers would become my family), even a five page film noir screenplay. And, in time, I would read goodbye emails from colleagues at other companies as my network grew. Some were were obnoxious (the nameless assistant boasting about an expense account and an iPhone at his new gig), some were infamous, but the common thread was always: don’t you forget about me.
And how could we forget each other? In my short time in Hollywood, I’ve realized this town is small. And I mean, small. Peripheral friends become future cubemates. Work nemeses follow us from job to job. The guy you met that night at St. Nick’s ultimately becomes the roommate of the kid who works for your boss’ lawyer. There was one particular former coworker whose departure from our hallway was celebrated instead of mourned. When an email went out with forwarding info, the agent next to me demanded his assistant update his contacts. We eyed each other, shocked: WTF? And then the agent taught us a very important lesson: in Hollywood, you just never know. There is no goodbye. Unless you leave the industry entirely. Because then no one cares about you, anyway.
Cost: Hours you were supposed to spend "working"