Making an Appearance

One of my current favorite guilty pleasure TV shows handed out this nugget of wisdom recently, “Maybe some people should be around your entire life, and other should just make an appearance.” (No, I won’t tell you what ABC Family show it is, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Then I will allow the mocking to ensue.)

I find this is especially true as I’ve transitioned from journalism to the corporate world. Of the people I relied on daily for advice and guidance as a journalist, many have left the business and others see me as having gone over to the dark side and turn a cold shoulder. And yet, this doesn’t bother me.

A wise professor once told me to never apologize for leaving journalism, it isn’t as if I failed out of the seminary and disappointed God.

Some might suggest this means I’ve burned those bridges, I disagree. I’ve moved on and so have they. What brought us together in the first place changed. The people I had something in common with other than just our job titles, I keep in contact with even though our relationship has changed.

I do make it a point to keep up with past bosses I would like to continue to use as references. An e-mail here, an e-mail there. A holiday card during the holidays. I don’t ever want the relationship to feel forced or like I’m just using them.

Are there better ways to maintain relationships with those former colleagues who by necessity (former bosses) or choice will be around for your entire life?

Work Family Blur

I recently read a great article about blurring the line between your work life and family life, especially if you have kids. One point the author mentions is to not talk about your kids every minute of every day. We all know someone like this at work, they have nothing to say if it isn’t about Billy’s first steps or Suzy sat up!

I do not have children. I do not care that Billy took his first steps of Suzy sat up. I find the constant talk of children and their events annoying and irreverent to the workplace. I’m not saying don’t share great news, but to those of us without kids developmental milestones aren’t important.

Furthermore, I see many co-workers who do have children abuse that fact. While a childless employee gets reamed for being five minutes late, a parent can get away with being a half hour late or taking a two hour lunch because Billy “just wouldn’t get dressed” or Suzy “spilled milk every where.”

It isn’t just in the corporate world, either. As a journalist all someone had to say was I can’t stay because I have to pick up so and so from daycare and that was enough to get the story assigned to someone else. Childless employees often got stuck with overtime and cancelled plans.

I talked with a friend of mine who has been burned more than I in this kind of situation. Her thoughts include, “let’s not forget working every holiday because people with kids are somehow mandated by God to get to spend it with their kids and getting REAMED for being ‘insensitive’ if you speak out against the injustice. If a woman at the grocery store is overwhelmed with her mouth breathers, why is it my job to offer help vs. get the shit stare? It was her choice to have children. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be kind but when did it become a required expectation?”

To her the bottom line is the assumption that if you don’t have kids, you have “gobs of time and the ability to work twofer – that is two employees worth of work.”

She wants to know, why do kids get to be an automatic pass to easy street or a “doctor’s note” explaining away persistently negligent and disruptive workplace behavior?

“I’m not saying isolated incidences don’t occur, they happen to us all, but anything more than once every two weeks needs to be called out,” she said.

The different standard for employees with children as those without frustrates me. Unfortunately, I do not have a solution. I’m open to any and all suggestions for dealing with this.