December 16 – Friendship
How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?
(Author: Martha Mihalick)
When you leave a job after ten years, you find out a lot about friendship. My job was the biggest part of my identity and my social life was wrapped around my work friends. There were several of us that had grown very close. We would go to lunch together every day, exploring all sorts of little mom & pop places, out-of-the-way holes in the wall and trendy little bistros. We shared more than lunch…we talked about our lives, commiserated over our work and laughed. Oh, how we laughed.
That all changed the day that I walked out.
I had been intending to leave for a while, but I was planning to do it after the beginning of the year. Instead, I picked up my purse, handed over my key card, and left.
Because I went to work for a competitor, I was instantly branded Public Enemy #1. All of my friends were threatened and told that if they had any contact with me, their jobs would be in jeopardy. Their email was monitored, and their lunch activities were seriously curtailed. They were questioned about me, and about the woman who I went to work with.
Most folks buckled under the pressure. It wasn’t worth the constant scrutiny & tension that they had to endure. I felt bad, and didn’t want to cause them any trouble, so I didn’t contact them.
I was crushed.
Then, one woman who had been part of “the gang” emailed me (from her home email address, of course) and asked me to lunch. We met at a restaurant outside of the normal radius of the old office. She told the boss that she had a client appointment. We finished our lunch & then talked for another two hours.
This woman is my mother’s age, but from the day that I interviewed her, we just clicked. Our senses of humor amuse each other, and while we don’t necessarily have a lot in common, we find each other endlessly interesting.
I’m grateful to say that this person risked her job to be my friend. Seriously, how crazy is that? It’s not like we were guarding state secrets or doing government work. I went to work for a much smaller company that targets a very different type of client. Talking about work was the very last thing that we would do.
At the beginning of 2010, my friend joined my book club. Now, we have an excuse to see each other at least once a month, and nobody can say anything.
To find that someone else finds you worth putting up with hassle & risk is enormously gratifying and endlessly humbling. My circle had shrunk down significantly, but that circle was even stronger than ever.