I felt a little awkward, but hey, I’m one of the gang. Jonathan was telling Adam about his first date. Well, it wasn’t that long ago I tried this very thing. Then Ray, on his way out, bike helmet donned, stopped at the front counter to bid us all a good weekend. The date talk—er, advice—er, analysis—continued. Guys’ perspective. For a moment. I wondered if I should excuse myself. But nah. It was all good, supportive, friendly fun. And I got to share. (Jon said he didn’t know about my dates, but I think I had told him. I surely didn’t keep it a secret. Though maybe I didn’t tell him? Hmm.)
And this was another moment for me to realize how much I love my colleagues. That we could hang around at ten past five on a Friday night. Give Jon advice. Hear how Ray met Odette with an auspicious bottle of rum which nicely complimented an espresso machine she kept in her dorm room. How Adam first date with Greg was a walking date. My stories of the guy I liked who didn’t want a second date, and how the guy I was a little weirded out by did.
C’est la vie!
We laughed. We sighed. We wished Jon luck with date number 2 and an apparently driven gal. Follow your gut, heart, feelings. Ray thought movies were good. For first dates, I disagreed.
“Sex is a good icebreaker,” jokes Ray. OK.
That’s when I thought I should leave. But Ray, who never really dated, broke his own ice. He was going for a run before a welcome long weekend with his wife (who is still a coffee fiend) and his nine-year-old son. And Adam was off, too, to see his husband and a houseguest who was thankfully leaving tomorrow.
As Adam was strapping on his bike helmet and backpack, Jon realized this it. He wouldn’t see Adam again, at least not professionally, before he left our little office family for good next Wednesday. Time for a hug.
I watched this. Super tall Adam. Smaller man Jon. Age range, I don’t know, 14-ish years. But good colleagues. Even friends. A sincere, warm, back-slapping goodbye. The first official farewell before the final departure on Wednesday.
I started to cry.
Date talk was over. I went back to my office. I came in late today. A couple more hours of work ahead of me. Jon was working the evening event. He was here for the long haul, and the rest of the weekend’s events.
He came back to check me. Jon and often chat, gossip, bend each other’s ear.
“I know you’re sad about this,” he said.
“I’m devastated,” I corrected. And I knew Jon understood.” But I’m happy, too, you know.”
“Oh, I know,” he said. “Me, too.”
And we went to work on each our projects, our high VIP event.”
An hour or so later, Jon returned to the office. He had an anecdote to share. I liked these little stories from public side of the work we do. My side of the business is so abstract, so detached, it’s nice to hear the stories, both good and bad.
“You know Alan Alda’s often here for this…”
“I didn’t know,” I said. I knew Daniel Day-Lewis would be in the building, but that was all I overhead.
So I got to hear the story of Mr. Alda, how nice he is, how he takes the time to say a meaningful hello to the staff, make note of the particular names of Civil War dead that grace our memorial building’s walls.
“He likes to point out Benjamin Franklin Pierce.”
My eyes opened wide. I didn’t know this. What an excellent story of a war veteran and a character name—and how crazy cool is that!
It took my mind off Adam leaving for a moment. And reminded me that nice people are all around us. Some stay for a long time. Some we meet once and call it a day. Others we work with for five years and three months, and know well remain connected beyond this building’s walls. There are stories to be shared.