Wednesday, March 26, 2008
A weird sort of camelot
I saw an old friend today. Reminiscing with her reminded me that many of Todd’s and my friends happen to be people we met at an old job. The same job where, conveniently, we also met each other. It’s odd; I exchange Christmas cards with one lady I taught school with, I'm still close to a gal with whom I suffered through a year at a law firm…but I keep close tabs on about 10 folks from that one communications firm, not counting my husband, and I stay loosely aware of the whereabouts of at least 10 more.
Why? What is it about the time spent there that keeps us in overlapping social circles? Most of us have discussed how it’s unusual, and the only thing we’ve ever come up with as far as explanation is that this particular company hires great people. Not to sound smug, but they really do. I met some of the brightest, most creative people I’ve ever known when they were my co-workers at that firm. I still wonder how I made it through their doors. Desperation on their part, I guess. ; )
But it has to be more than that. I can’t help believing there’s a deeper reason for us to keep reaching out to each other, even now—especially when you consider that the vast majority of us are no longer employed by this company.
I have a theory, and I’ve decided to dub it “The Camelot Factor.” When I first joined the firm, and for about two years after that point, the company was profitable and popular; they made every effort to wear that success well. The leaders didn’t do everything perfectly, by any means, but by and large, they were generous and kind. There were numerous off-site meetings, some rather luxurious, and there were parties and celebrations for every possible achievement. Even when people left the company, they received commendations and a luncheon of some sort. There were funky, artsy clients that amounted to great freebies and discounts for us. There were a number of singles there, most of whom actually liked each other. The result of all this is that a great number of my work memories are of genuinely good, fun times.
But the Camelot Factor requires more than festivities, perks, and social outings to seal that bond between workers. It also requires a majority of folks who are comfortable with who they are and who they’re becoming. It requires a lot of people in similar circumstances, with similar interests. It requires a shared appreciation for hard work well done, and respect for each other. Maybe it even requires some shared suffering. But not just suffering—Lord knows I’ve suffered at some other jobs, and still never formed any lasting bond with my colleagues.
For me, the romance of the place remains rose-tinged because, even though it drove me crazy by the time I left it, I honestly started to like myself when I worked there. I started to feel as if I had something to offer, talents to explore, amazing people to befriend and learn from. When I first started there, I felt so blessed to be part of it. I wonder if my former colleagues recall the same sort of glow, in themselves and others they knew there.
Even now, having chosen to leave the firm years ago, I still carry that blessing, those friends, that wide range of experiences and lessons learned there. I still feel pride that I was part of it in its shiniest days. Stupid, misplaced pride, perhaps—but I can’t deny that it’s in me. Mostly, I am grateful for the many contacts from those days whom I still enjoy on an almost daily basis.
It certainly was no Camelot. And yet—it was quite a “congenial spot,” if not for ever-aftering, then for making memories.