As I navigate through corporate bullshit, I’m always interested at knowing what other people in the office think about their job, and life in general. It’s very difficult to get an idea of what people really think and really like, as all conversations with my coworkers end up focusing either on work itself, or random inconsequential stuff (e.g. what the weather was like over the weekend).
But sometimes we get to get a sneak peak at what people really do or like. Last week there was a team event with my coworkers and people got a bit drunk, and talked a bit more than usual. Somehow the discussion slipped into where people would like to live.
Typically people don’t talk about this subject, and I discovered this is for a good reason: none of my coworkers saw themselves growing old in this city. One had dreams to buy two houses in different parts of the US (Montana and Arizona), one for the Winter, the other one for the rest of the year. Another one saw himself moving to Hawaii “when his kids are done with college”. A third one, who’s not from the US, wanted to move back to his own country ultimately.
This is not the kind of stuff people will talk about too much at work: everyone wants everybody else to believe that we’re in “for good” in the company. I’m not gonna bail in 2 years to move to Hawaii. No siree, I’ll die at my desk, like a good corporate drone. Pretending you’re the most dedicated employee ever is part of the corporate ladder game. In truth, discussing with drunk colleagues reveals that nobody thinks the job is what they really want to do with their life.
Today I also got to chat with a prospective employee for our company. I had lunch with the guy and was not part of the interview process, my only job was to let the guy ask questions about the company, and basically help him relax between 2 interview sessions. And it was clear to me that the guy was looking for something exciting to work on, but also was not super excited to get back to the corporate world. He didn’t ask me much about the company’s projects, instead we talked about our respective families, his hobbies, the places he visited as a kid. As a result, it was a very enjoyable lunch, just like talking to a friend.
And that’s the essential thing that brings me a mix of sadness and joy: my coworkers, and people in general, have so many interesting things to talk about, interesting experiences, fun stuff, anecdotes. But in the work environment, there is no time for such conversations, we feel guilty talking for half an hour about our favorite movies, because that’s taking time away from the company. And when you try to meet these guys outside of work, in many cases you still end up talking about work because that’s the only thing you’ve ever been given the opportunity to bond about.
Such a waste of positive social energy, if you ask me.