I had to take a new co-worker out to lunch today. She had just started a few weeks ago. It’s the polite thing to do. A “get to know you” lunch is really co-worker dating. You are trying to get a sense of the other person, their sense of humor and take on the world. Their political knowledge and leanings are useful to know, so certain topics can be skipped, skirted or ignored.
I didn’t have high hopes for this particular co-worker as she had dropped a few nuggets of information already that caused me to start attaching Keywords to her: Catholic; Good Housekeeping; “Mom”. Not to mention Enabler and Judgmental.
The chatty, girlfriend lunch was remarkable only in that it proved our utter lack of connection. And lack of curiosity. It’s not often that I have a chance to lunch with someone who never bothers to ask me any questions. Even the most self absorbed usually come up with “How long have you done this kind of work?”, “What did you get your degree in?” or “Where did you grow up?”. You have to be interested to be interesting!
And so the lunch became an anthropological observation. A cataloging of the ways that I am dissimilar from my co-worker.
- I don’t refer to myself or other grown women as “girls”.
- I don’t need an organized religion to provide my moral system.
- I don’t live with a man who believes women get unfair advantages and take jobs away from more deserving men.
- I have yet to utter the words “I’m just a Mom, I can’t help it”.
- I don’t live in the middle of nowhere for the “schools”.
- I don’t have adult children living in my basement…
I could go on. It was a fascinating lunch, made all the more weird because this she just gave her two weeks notice. So the “get to know you” lunch doubled as the “best of luck” lunch. Which is not a bad thing as far as co-worker dating goes. While our differences are not irreconcilable, I doubt I would have felt compelled to have a second date. ‘It’s not you it’s me! I’m just a crabby, feminist, atheist living among black people in the inner ring suburbs’.
It’s hard to make new friends and it’s especially hard to make new friends at work. Colleagues and co-workers should remain at the friendly, but not friends level until enough time has passed to be sure they are not crazy or unstable in some profoundly needy way.
This one will be just a memory in seven days. Then it’s just me and Pandora again.