By Richard Miller
An ice cream shop, a grocery store, a diner, a five-star hotel, an administrative finance office and a college newspaper. These are all the places — in order — where I’ve worked in my two decades on Earth, and each of them has impacted me greatly (not including brief stints in housekeeping and being a personal shopper).
But it wasn’t the different experiences that came with making the perfect sundae, bagging groceries, waiting tables, checking guests in, answering phones or even editing articles that impacted me the most. It was the people, my co-workers.
I’ve been calling 2019 my year of work, as I often worked a full 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift and then transitioned to the graveyard 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., but I honestly wouldn’t trade it for the world. I could go on and on about how I’m motivated by my work ethic and, of course, the pay, but what really helps me get up each day is the people.
I’ve worked with people of all genders, ages and races. Not only did I learn from them, but I had fun with each and every person — some of the highlights being hosting our own singing competitions up the grocery store aisles, taking quick naps in beach chairs on the overnight shift, creating our own wacky ice cream combinations or laughing at the obscure requests people would give us.
The best part about the relationships you build is that they’re often with people you would have otherwise never spoken too or spent such large amounts of time with. It’s the ‘odd couple’ types of relationships that often prove to be the most rewarding. You build bonds where you often complain about the annoying aspects of your job or find things in common you’d never expect. There is often so much to learn from someone who is in such a different stage of life with different experiences.
In addition to enjoying time with them, there are often so many acts of kindness we do for each other. I remember my co-workers splitting their lunch with me when I forgot, helping me pick out flowers for the prom, covering my shift so I could go to the prom, making me laugh or letting me vent after a hard day.
Every time a new venture would come along and I would leave a job, it would always come with a bittersweet feeling. You grow so close with the people you work with that you often spend more time working than you do at home, and your co-workers become an important part of your daily routine.
To this day, a simple Facebook post updating people on my life will result in tons of reactions from former co-workers who are happy for my success or countless texts just reaching out and checking in.
Relationships and bonds between co-workers are often extremely overlooked and under-appreciated. Co-workers are the friends and family you don’t pick — and probably didn’t ask for. But you ultimately grow to love them.