Before I started writing this piece, I thought I was going to write about being stuck on a desert island. As I began my writing process, it occurred that I might have chosen the wrong word. Did I actually mean a deserted island? It wouldn’t be the first time I had chosen a wrong words–nor will it be my last.
I also didn’t want to leave an impression on my wife that I would rather be stuck in a tropical paradise with other people, not including her. The island I was trying to portray was something more… LOST-like, but without all the crazy stuff (only what I’d heard since I only ever watched the first episode).
Upon Google defining both desert and deserted island, my friends at Wikipedia indicate that both are indeed “A desert island or uninhabited island is an island that has yet to be (or is not currently) populated by humans.” This was exactly what I was attempting to describe… basically stuck in the ocean (kind of like Tom Hanks in Cast Away). This desert island post stems from a discussion with two great coworkers at my beloved Purple Prison, GaoRong and Coralie.
(In my own experience) Friends seldom become coworkers, and friends that do, typically don’t remain friends after laboring together. Most coworkers remain coworkers–fused into a “professional” relation by place, position, and situation. Other coworkers end up as adversaries–too bad for them because life is too short for that kind of conflict. Occasionally, a few select coworkers gel together and actually become friends in the workplace. This last group is the ones that often make work enjoyable (and more bearable).
Gel-ing coworkers can often have goofy conversation about work, popular culture, personal experience, and life in general. These friendships are typified by a genuine interest in each others’ lives. Really great friends at work can even discuss politics, religion, and another forbidden topic that I can’t seem to recall (I think it was sex, but since I haven’t anything too interesting to mention about that, we’ll it’s never been an issue).
While wondering about those three forbidden topics, I ended up Googling this article from money.usnews.com: 40 Topics You Can’t Discuss At Work Wow! Take away all 40 of these topics and some people might have nothing much to discuss… My own new favorites from their list include…
- (10) The progress, or lack thereof, of your therapy (if I could afford therapy, I think that I would want to talk about it.)
- (11) Your blog URL (this seems obvious, considering my topic today)
- (29) The state of your undergarments (never even crossed my mind, that’s a good one. What about ripping the crouch of my pants at work? Does that count? Because “that” actually happened last week! Breezy! Too much said?)
The fact someone actually took the time to articulate these 40 things makes me worried about the average worker’s ability to use their discretion *sigh*
I know amongst my friends at work, sometimes the conversation turns to kidding. Occasionally this kidding involves silly ways we tease each other, and sometimes the teasing can get into cutting or sarcasm. Sometimes this goes too far, so much so, that when a person, like me, is trying to give a real compliment, it doesn’t get taken seriously.
In one such conversations, to get my point across and demonstrate I was being genuine, I suggested that if I had to pick only ten co-workers to be stuck on a deserted island with, both of these coworkers would be in my list of ten. My point of this statement was to indicate that each coworker was the type of person that I would want with me in that hypothetical circumstance.
And truthfully, both GaoRong and Coralie are the type of co-workers that would make my list of top ten islanders to be stuck with on my imaginary island. This isn’t to say they’d be perfect island-mates, or that we never experienced a personal spat before, but rather that despite the good and the bad, they are stand-up people, the kind I would prefer to have with me in a rough patch.
So thinking about my hypothetical deserted island, what would you say about your own coworkers? And what would your coworkers say about you? What defines the kind of person that each of us would want with us in just such a situation?
Thinking about GaoRong and Coralie … Why would I want them there with me?
- Sense of humor (and the ability to laugh at oneself).
- Transparency (the ability to really be yourself, and to not worry about people seeing the “real you”).
- Sensitivity (good friends are attune to what’s going on).
- Empathy (Maybe the grind of our Purple Prison has naturally brought us together).
- Common Interests (music, popular culture, personal experience).
- Diversity (different life experience, an interest to learn from each other).
- Trust (not worrying that anyone will be getting “thrown under the bus”, and heaven forbid it happens, knowing there’s forgiveness afterwards).
Last Friday was a good reminder about why I picked GaoRong and Coralie to be my island mates: Thanks to both of them for staying late to help me with all 28 international packages despite being finished (and permitted to go home)… you two are the best!
So in the scheme of things, where you work, would your coworkers be stuck on a deserted island with, or without you? Why do you think that is?