I don’t need to give my work community any further reasons to poke me in the eye with a hot stick. If it’s not bad enough that I don’t partake in the happy hours and pub crawls, I’ve also developed an apparent disdain for gatherings that smell more social than business, re: meetings that are excuses to talk about “things” and “feelings” rather than “clients” and “marketing.”
I don’t know how it happened. I think my years working at the venerable, and by that I mean completely dysfunctional and emotionally wounding, Louis Boston in college taught me that the people you work with should not be your friends. Sure, you may cherry pick one or two people to cross the line with, but taking on the lot of them is dangerous. Deep down you have to remember that these are convenience friends, their love and support is mostly contingent upon their continued employment. You don’t want to be the shmuck who shelled out $20 for every Pam, Tami, and Donna who had a baby or got married and then end up realizing that none of them are coming to your baby shower six years down the road.
I don’t feel guilty about my work/life separation. On the one hand, for the first 18 month I worked here the staff thought I was sleeping with my boss, and even still I can’t be certain they’re all convinced that I’m not. On the other hand, they’ve got each other. Come morning someone is always polite enough to tell me that they missed me, but I’m quite certain that mid-Jager bomb not a single person is toasting my name or lamenting over my absence. Why? Likely because I’m unpleasant.
And don’t get me wrong, I work with great people. Some of the best, in fact; I’m just very, very cautious about getting to close and friendly. Believe it or not, it makes things harder. Become besties with a work friend and then I double dog dare you to try to have a serious performance conversation. Either you’re freaking out on the inside or their internal monologue is going on about how “totally ridiculous” this whole thing is, “like, aren’t we friends? You know I’d totally have your back.” Bad idea jeans, kids.
But there remains the basic truth about work relationships: no matter what, keep it friendly. If you’d care to take on the wrath and hatred of your entire company, be my guest, but I am way too insecure about my performance and breath to go alienating my fellow ad friends. And so it is that I have to do things that deep down inside make me so uncomfortable that I get a rash up near my ears just thinking about it. One such thing? Summer outings.
They sounds so harmless. In fact, using an antiquated, pre-pre-marital sex word like “outing” makes it sound downright lovely. “Yes, yes, friends, let us all gather on the veranda and set upon our outing. Where ever shall we go? I do hear that kind Mr. Hawthorne has some lovely berries this time of year. What say we pick and giggle? Oh! Yes! Let’s do!” I think breezes and ice cream cones, the warm sun dancing off of Indian Paintbrushes or something. What I don’t think of is frolicking around the co-workers in a bathing suit.
This year we’re going on a lovely summer outing to the beach. Come Friday we will pack ourselves into a party bus and head towards the ocean. We will play games and drink beverages, eat seaside and play volleyball. And twelve hours later, when we’re exhausted and spent, we’ll gather ourselves back on the bus of eternal merriment and travel back towards Boston with love and camaraderie in our hearts, the warm glow of booze in our blood, and our eyes towards a better tomorrow.
To me this means two hours of diligent focus and Zen-like ignorance of the jiggling and jogging happening around me, motions that will certainly cause me to yiff up anything I’ve chanced to eat for breakfast. Assuming my first application of SPF 55 lasts it’s optimal 4 hours, I’ll be primed for a reapply right around lunch time. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to ask one of my coworkers to rub the lotion on my body, as I’d hate to maintain dignity and decorum in the midst of our bonding. I can then look forward to the quizzical demenor of my comrades, wondering why I wouldn’t want to have a few brews before getting on a bathroom-less bus and swerving back towards the city after dark. I’m really, really hopeful that I’ll get some sand in my lady parts so I can try to appear calm and collected while a seaside infection makes it’s way into my body via my dampened bathing suit.
All in all, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get my ass kicked in a super-charged game of volleyball dripping with passive aggressive angst while wearing a bathing suit in public.
Better yet, why don’t we wear bathing suits to work and spend the day playing passive-aggressive volleyball with our families (which would likely be very productive)? No? Bad plan?
Oh, summer outings. How I love thee.