With much of the 9 to 5 world continuing to work from home post-pandemic – leaving our office buildings mostly baron and facetime interactions mainly achieved via digital meeting services – there have been moments since the fog lifted on social distancing, that have reminded me of just how much I enjoy being around people – and lots of them.
I’m an introvert by design so when I am overstimulated with too many meetings or verbal conversations, I’m tired for days. At the same time, however, my greatest source of inspiration is in-person human interaction. The right crowd re-energizes and inspires me and it lasts for a long while.
As I write this, I’m beaming thinking of all the faces I saw last week at GameTime Social where co-workers from various local departments of my employer, gathered to unwind and enjoy the company of not just fellow employees but in many cases, long-time friends.
I started at this company in 1998. I was told there was about three years of design work but with ever-evolving technology, thankfully, I’m still here to indulge in good cheer with so many faces that have crossed my paths these past 25 years whether through joint projects, or friendships that developed from various Social Club events or even through years of passing each other in the hallway.
It’s sad now walking the empty office corridors, staring into the quiet seating areas of the various departments when I do come into work for a meeting or food. Although both offices that I have occupied over the years look so much different from those early days, I can still imagine the faces of all of those whose paths I have crossed for two-and-a-half decades.
We’ve watched our kids grow from sitting on Santa’s lap at kid’s holiday parties, to now walking the halls as co-workers themselves. We’ve lost family members, struggled through divorce, have said goodbye to fellow employees through restructuring, and sadly, in death. We stared at television screens throughout our offices as planes crashed into the Twin Towers, and we were supplied laptops and told to stay home if we were sick during SARS. I can remember the social club meeting I was in with our then vice-president as staff whispered something in his ear, followed by everyone being sent home during the blackout of 2003, and many of us surely remember the day we were told to pack our things and go home for a couple of weeks, at the start of COVID-19.
Many of us met our partners at Cogeco. Our co-workers are some of our dearest friends. We’ve played hockey together, pool, beach volleyball, scaled the CN Tower, cleaned garbage, went to the movies, attended each other’s weddings, funerals, retirement parties, and so many events to mark major milestones in one another’s lives. It’s no wonder that these now rare social interactions bring on an onslaught of love and emotions.
I saw so many faces that meant a lot to me that night. Some of you were talking with someone else so I thought I would catch you later on, but missed that opportunity in some cases. Others gave me big hugs that carried the strength of what our friendship meant to them – and those feelings are reciprocated. Some were surprised I still worked at our company because well, it’s been a long time.
Outside of the hilarity of watching grown adults competing hard at air hockey, relentlessly trying to beat the high scores at soccer or basketball, or getting clobbered by pool sharks, every single conversation, handshake, fist bump, and especially hug, had me leaving feeling full to the brim with emotions.
I’m not sure why I missed last year’s event, but let this be my own reminder as to why it should be the last one I skip out on.
You matter to me.
Although I haven’t always loved some of the assignments I have been tasked with over the years, the people have always reminded me of what is truly great about this job – 25 years of friendship and the stories we all share through the good, the bad, and even the ugly of life beyond the walls that we have walked together.
Although I love working from home, avoiding traffic, and not feeling rushed to get the kids or make dinner, there have been many reminders lately from team meetings to last year’s holiday Gala and these social events, that leave me wanting to make it a point to get into the office more because there is absolutely nothing like the energy of a physical handshake.
Thank you to all of those who put so much thought and time into making this such a fun and meaningful event, and to the company itself which provides the funds and resources to ensure we have a thriving social planning team. As a former Social Club representative, I recognize what goes on behind the scenes to put together a range of activities to bolster our after 5 social interactions.
I was exhausted for days afterward, but my spirit is still brimming.