The rewards of work are not the money and promotions. It is the friendships we make and hold for decades and perhaps a lifetime. Last night a longtime friend from my much younger working days came to dinner with his wife. We had not seen each other for more years than I care to think about. Keeping in touch over the years is now made easier by social media.
I met Dan in 1983 when we worked for a national storage company. When I left the mid-west to join the acquisitions department in Seattle, Dan took my position as regional manager.
One had to be partially insane, at least, to work with him, or me for that matter. He is still one of the few people who gets my humor. I get his. We usually laughed through most of the more serious company meetings, seeing comical aspects where others dared not tread. I remember one meeting where we attracted the ire of the company president. Later, we laughed about that, too.
And there were days when I wanted to slap Dan myself because he tended to push the limits, like the day we were in Houston on business and he dropped me off at the airport with nine minutes to make my flight to Denver. Those were, of course, before the days of September 11. As we rushed toward the airport, I threatened to shoot him if I missed my flight. After a hurried goodbye, I pushed my way to the front of check-in, then sprinted down the hall and through the door with an electronic sign flashing “Now Boarding”. Mentally, I swore I was going to shoot him anyway. It all happened so fast. Remembering a trip with a passenger on the incorrect flight, as the plane took off, I turned to the guy sitting next to me and queried, “We are going to Denver, aren’t we?”
We worked hard, but friends like Dan made it palatable. We had a lot of fun, crazy times. We talked about those times last night. We remembered other co-workers, some retired, some still working, some already gone from these earthly bonds.
Our kids are now grown, both of us grandparents. We were dining at my oldest daughter’s home, telling tales of our adventures as five of my grandchildren milled around the table waiting for dessert to be served. My daughter reminisced with us about babysitting Dan’s two children, taking them to all sorts of places in her turquoise colored Dodge.
It is said, “time waits for no one”. And, that is certainly true. The passage of time is inevitable. We often think of time from the perspective of world events, yet for all of us, time is personal. Our time is made up of how we spend it and who we spend it with, fragments woven into tales to be told.
I thought I had cultivated some close relationships while working and I was disappointed when it took more than I had in me to maintain them after retirement. I was usually the one initiating contacts and I eventually stopped because I wanted relationships that were reciprocal. These are women that I shared some formative years with and I always enjoy their company yet without the common binding of work, the tapestry began to unravel. In the past month, we gathered to support a bereaved colleague. We all settled in and enjoyed each other’s company and it was voiced more than once – why don’t we get together more often? So why don’t we?
Good question Mona. I, too, have gotten together with people that I used to work with and the same question arises. For me, the biggest roadblock is miles. I am separated from most co-workers I had relationships with by at least 800 miles. That makes getting together a large commitment. I’ve found that Facebook helps us stay up-to-date with each other to an extent, but it’s not the same as real face time. I also found that once I retired, I didn’t have much in common with a lot of my former co-workers. I now lived in a different world with a different lifestyle. I’ve learned to cultivate other outlets for friendships such as associations and classes. K
How wonderful you were able to meet IRL and have the same “mental connection”! A few folks I meet with from my work days are like this… we just pick up our connection as if it were yesterday. Others, it was about the work, and there is nothing to talk about anymore.
Mona talks about reciprocality, which I struggle with as well. I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that if I getting something from the connection (stimulating conversation, inspiration), it’s worth the effort I put in to make it happen. And actively appreciate those who do reciprocate even more.
I have had at least 4 different careers and when I left each one it became difficult to impossible to maintain contacts. Like you, Kathy, miles were one impediment — not 800, but 100. The other was not having enough in common with my former co-workers, since I switched careers to accommodate my varied interests — art, law, interpreting, and teaching.
Now that I’m retired, I have begun to explore local classes and associations, as well as drawing closer to the few friends I’ve kept for over 30 years. What’s interesting is that my long-time friends, like me, are artists at heart, a strong bond that kept us connected and sadly has little or nothing to do with the jobs we worked to earn a living.
I feel like one of the lucky ones! I don’t have miles separating my coworkers so the small number of us that have formed a lifetime bond try to get together at least every two months. We always pick up where we left off. We have all gone through some major life events and challenges and consider ourselves family. I am truly blessed to have them still in my life.