I’m having drinks tomorrow night with the a group of ladies I worked with ten years ago. It’s amazing I still even know these women, considering when we worked together I was very young and pretty much a dumb-ass. We worked in the ‘sales and marketing’ department of an insurance company. That sounds really dull, but actually, it was kind of awesome. One year we entered a team in the local Dragon Boat festival (long canoes paddled by semi-drunk people wearing matching t-shirts) and called ourselves the S & M Dragon Warriors. Get it? The S &M Dragon Warriors?? Aren’t we clever? We even had a banner designed that included a logo with a large cartoon dragon sporting a dog collar and a whip. Yeah, it was insurance, but we managed to make it cool. That was a long time ago, and I’m still in touch with my ladies. This, along with my recent career change, has made me think a lot about co-workers and the role they play in our lives.
Co-workers are a mysterious thing. They’re sort of like in-law’s – life just assigns them to you on a totally random basis. You have no say whatsoever in who they are, but more often than not you spend more time with this ad-hoc group of people then you do your own family or friends. You get to choose your husband, you get to choose your friends, but your co-workers are completely pre-determined. As a result, you need to think more strategically about how you manage these pre-assigned relationships, especially when they're brand new. When do you get to talk about your weekend and mention the drunken escapade to the gay bar? When do you get to say ‘fuck’ without feeling like a serial killer? When do you get to sing ABBA songs in your office in a weird falsetto voice when you can’t stand the hummmmmmmm of the fluorescent lights anymore? Ahem…not that I would WANT to do that…..
Counting my new position, I have now had four ‘real’ jobs in my life. I’m not counting the years of total shit ‘I just need rent money’ kind of jobs (I’ve had a million of those), but four honest to god, career-esque kind of jobs. Thinking back to each of those I remember less about the actual work and more about the people I was working with. Some of them were the greatest people ever. Some of them totally sucked ass. Some of them I wouldn’t remember if you put a gun to my head, but the one thing they all had in common was that they were part of my separate world that no one in my ‘real’ life gets to be a part of.
Starting a new job has made me wonder….how does the real life FoN match up with the work FoN? If you asked my friends who I have known for twenty years what they think of me and the type of person I am, would you get the same answers as when you asked my work friends? Not sure. I bet you wouldn’t. Work is a very different environment, and even when you get comfortable and form real friendships, you still have to be a different person than you are in your regular life. Okay, maybe not different, necessarily, but certainly modified. However, the longer you work someplace, the more of the ‘real’ you comes out. What makes a good workplace? When the ‘real’ you comes out and it turns out to be a good thing.
I better pace myself though. Too much of the real FoN might just freak them the hell out. I don’t think they’re ready for the sadomasochistic dragon banner quite yet.