Lately I think I have the loneliest job in the entire store. Everyone else has at least one peer, whereas I am the only one in my job function. My title is “Administrative Colleague.” I used to be part of the “Administrative Support Team,” but the team dwindled down from five employees to one. No more team, just one little colleague. But exactly whose colleague am I?
With my unique job comes the unique position of having no friends. Not that I don’t have people I’ve worked with for years, with whom I talk and laugh. But it’s all pretty superficial. I don’t have friends, people I can sit down with and openly discuss whatever’s going on and how I’m feeling. Once in a while you’d like to go to lunch with someone. I don’t think in over nine years I’ve ever gone to lunch with anybody. There are also some cultural and educational differences which make it hard for me to relate to people and vice versa. But right now, what makes me lonely is my job.
Because I’m privy to so much confidential information, I can’t really be close friends with sales or support associates. I can’t tell you how the new person makes more than you do after fifteen years, or that the person downstairs is about to lose their job. I can’t tell you when our boss is going off the rails or which manager came out of her office crying. I know how much you make, I know why you got written up, and I know management hates you because your grandma dies every weekend.
But I can’t be friends with the managers either. They can’t commiserate with me when our boss screams at them because I’m “only an hourly associate.” They can’t be candid with me because of all the secrets they’re privy to. And I can’t be candid with them because they might tell my supervisor, let alone the store manager. And they treat me like a kid anyway. It’s like how you can’t tell mommy something because she’ll tell daddy. I’ve actually been in situations where I’ve confided non-work-related information to a manager and next thing you know, the store manager is asking me about it.
One time, I told my supervisor that I just started a new epilepsy drug and I didn’t know how it was going to affect me, so to please be aware of it if I seemed weird. Next morning, our boss walks in and says, “So I hear you’re on a new medication.”
What’s even more unfair is that I’m the only one in the store who not only answers to a supervisor but the store manager too. There are occasions when I’m reminded I’m an inferior, like when the store manager has my supervisor speak to me rather than tell me herself (like the time she told my supervisor to tell me that I need to communicate better. No irony there.). And then there are occasions when I’m given the same level of expectations as my supervisor. This often puts me in awkward situations. The worst is when our boss tells my supervisor to do something, which of course she doesn’t do, asks me why she didn’t do it, chastises her in front of me, and then has me do it. This is like when mommy and daddy divorce and pull you into it.
On the other hand, sales associates try and butter me up to do stuff for them, and I’m like, you never had a word to say to me when I was a sales associate too. Just cut the crap, tell me what you need, and I’ll do it. Or they try and pump me for information, by casually tossing out suggestions to see if I agree or disagree or give something away. The funny thing is that when you’re honest, your instinct is to tell the truth. But this can land you in hot water if you say too much. You only need to learn this lesson once. And it compounds the resentment you feel at someone’s having used you to satisfy their need for gossip to spread.
So I dunno. Maybe it’s a good thing to be lonely because I’m way too emotionally invested in that place as it is. Maybe I don’t need to know everything or have everyone be my best friend. Thankfully I have people outside of work to listen to me talk ad nauseam about it. But still, it would be nice to be treated as a peer at least once in a while.
Do you have close friends at work, or is it all just business to you? Do you come to work intending to enter into a world of drama and play your part to the fullest, or do you go in, do your job, leave, and forget about it?