Talent & Tupperware
There is something incredibly unusual about colleagues and the relationships that you form within a working environment, and, it’s unlike anything else i’ve really experienced before. The longer you spend with each other, the more you become like family. Not in the traditional sense of those who have your back through thick and thin but instead, more like some form of dysfunctional unit. You have to spend a huge amount of your time with them, sharing not in just an intellectual manner, but in fact a physical one. Desk space, air and cutlery to name just a few . The people you’re effectively paid to spend time with, inadvertently become a significant part of your day to day life, whether you like it or not.
I see my colleagues for more hours in a single week than I see my immediate family in a month, or six. Hell, I see my boss more than I see my boyfriend. Born out of a miserable Monday mornings, lengthy, anger inducing commutes and frustrating work dealings arise bonds that at times can feel unbreakable. There’s nothing that unites humans quite like shared experiences.
Over time we learn the subtle signs. When to talk, and when to leave it. We know judging by a face or a tone how a colleague is feeling. We know details about their families; names, jobs, where they live. We could probably order for them quite well in a restaurant, or if not, we could at least pick a meal deal without a moments hesitation. We think about them at random times. Must tell Kelly about that new show on BBC1, or ask John if he’s seen the new Nandos Menu? We build on these relationships daily, with inside jokes, meetings that could have been an email and simply, the sheer length of time we spend in each others presence.
Our colleagues may not often see us at our best but boy, do they definitely see us at our worst. Whether stressed, angry, upset, or hungover, ultimately we bring much more to work with us than just talent and Tupperware. They have no choice but to witness big life events and the effects of them upon us from such a close distance – whether the joyous moments of marriages and births, to the ugliness of illness and deaths, they have to simply sit back on that swivel chair and witness the encyclopaedia of emotions and experiences that the rollercoaster of life provides us from just mere meters away.
We spend hours and hours and hours together, and then one day, we don’t. We go from intensive debates, complicated conversations and ‘life or death’ dress dilemmas to clearing out our desks and saying goodbye. In the four short weeks of a notice period, we go from everything, to nothing. Our colleagues take up so much space in our lives, until they quite simply, don’t.
We think of the from time to time, but like all things, the world keeps spinning and in a week or two, once its stops feeling like you’re on a longer than normal holiday, you disappear from each others consciousness in the way that only occurs with colleagues, making you wonder if they or you, were ever really there at all?
Fresh faced into a new job for you, there’s Annabel from Accounts to annoy you and from Ben from Brand to bond with. For your colleagues left behind in the battleground, there’s an empty chair, a few more items of cutlery to fight over, and no doubt some dodgy lunch you forgot to throw out lurking in the back of the fridge. All that remains confirmed from the months and years creating them bonds is the simple resignation letter that it took to break them.
While some you’ll like on Facebook or Linkedin, a few you’ll occasionally snapchat or whatsapp when something relevant to your shared interests occurs, for the rest it’s a simple “Good Luck, Keep in touch!” and a walk out the door, knowing with such definitive clarity, you’ll never speak again.