On Friday, I met my lovely friend Sophie for lunch in NYC. Soph and I used to work together, joining our professional services firm on the same day around six years ago. Fortunately, we have remained friends long after our interesting challenges at that place were over. (But those days will be a chapter in my book one day: the working title for that section, “Mon Dieu! Surviving the GFC and a crazy French Canadian boss”.)
Anyways, Soph is now living and working in New York, so it was great to get the chance to catch up while I’m in town. We met at a great little restaurant, Rosemary’s, near Soph’s home in the West Village. (Not that this is a food blog, but I definitely recommend Rosemary’s for a casual meal – they even have a rooftop garden that supplies some of their delicious fresh ingredients.)
I arrived early, so spent time wandering around the Village and discovered an amazing oasis amidst the bustle of the busy city, where sounds of sirens, car horns and construction can be kinda overwhelming. This magical place was filled with the sounds of birds, insects and quiet chatter (plus one man talking loudly on his phone for a loooong time). Turns out it’s also the site of Miranda and Steve’s wedding in Sex and the City. And normal people can get married there too, just fyi.
Jefferson Market Garden. An amazing place, staffed by volunteers, and well worth a visit if you’re in town – a perfect spot to take a break, take a breath, and enjoy this oasis in the Village.
I have found my new tribe. Well, they were my people for about 24 hours, at least. You can recognise us by our uniform, a pair of grey pyjamas with a black kangaroo emblazoned on the front of the shirt. (One of life’s great equalisers – truly, everyone looks terrible when they return from the bathroom with these pjs on.)
You may also spot our HQ, we call it a lounge, far from the busy airport food courts, where it is perfectly acceptable to pop the champagne – even though it’s not quite 8am. That’s just how we roll. When in transit, this pyjama’d tribe resides in the upstairs cabin, while the normal folk cram in downstairs. And it was a big bus this time – an A380 from Sydney to LA.
I was fortunate to be able to use frequent flyer points to upgrade to the dizzy heights of business class, where the beds are flat, the cutlery is metal, and the menu is totes fancy. Except vegetarians don’t get to choose from the menu, so lunch was an entree of felafel bathed in hommus and surrounded by baby spinach, followed by tandoori tofu (yep), Dahl and cauliflower and other assorted veges. An interesting choice of strong flavours and daring ingredients for people cooped up in this plane for the next 12 hours… Oh, and dessert was a chocolate mousse sort of thing with churros. Well played, Qantas.
Then they switch the lights out in an elaborate trick to get you to sleep, even though your brain is screaming, IT’S ONLY MIDDAY, MAN! Yet most of the tribe seem to sleep, with only one snorer and a little baby to break the silence. And even they seemed to do so in a dignified, restrained sort of manner. There’s an interesting mix of humanity here, as there was in the lounge. Young children who are clearly seasoned travellers don’t bat an eye as they settle back and enjoy travelling in style. If you kids only knew how the rest of us normally travel…
This is the life, I tell you – hopefully I get upgraded on the way home too, or I might have to wear these pjs in Economy and reminisce.
I am very fortunate to work with some fairly nutty folk. When I think about it, I’ve always been pretty lucky to work with people who are smart, but who also have a capacity for silliness and fun, which makes for a very enjoyable workplace.
Although, when you’re working in an open plan office, it becomes clear that we humans don’t all have the same sense of what’s funny. Especially when the workspace is shared with many consultants engaged via a subcontinental company. Judging by the bewildered and sometimes frightened looks that I catch from time to time, I suspect they believe my job to be some strange combination of circus clown, town crier, counsellor, and policewoman. Which, as I reflect on it now, is probably a pretty accurate summary, I guess!
I am a terrible eavesdropper, which is a challenge in the super-open-plan office that we share. And when I say I am a terrible eavesdropper, I actually mean I am really really good at it. It’s one of my gifts. I can focus on a conversation with Person A (the conversation I am actually IN), but can also tune into the conversations of Persons B, C and D around me. It also helps to fill in details when people-watching in restaurants, airports, funerals and the like.
The openness of the open plan has certainly made the old tradition of office gossip a lot more challenging. Not that I engage in office gossip, obvs, as I am an HR professional. But I have heard that the super-open-plan environment has driven office gossip from the hallways to the email and the instant messaging. (Which, as a reminder, also means it is now recorded and can be monitored. A switch from the olden days of safely whinging about the Boss Man in the privacy of the tea room during a smoke break. Yes, I worked in the 1950s too.)
Anyways, I digress. I wanted to talk about my colleague Louise, who has started an email tradition, delivered to a small (but appreciative) group each Friday. I’m not sure how it began, and there was quite a long break in transmission there, but it is now back in action and it is making the world a better place. The distribution list is growing as word spreads of this underground movement that’s shaking things up, pushing the envelope and challenging the status quo.
Keeping the emails short, but inspirational, the author knows the target market and stays true. Other Harvard Business Review fads may come and go, but this content has been fine-tuned over generations (and years of Christmas crackers). The email title? Just three little words that warm the heart and the workplace: Friday Dad Joke.
Here’s a sample of some of our community’s recent treasures:
What’s the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?
Today is a special day for two reasons – it is our lovely Dad’s birthday (77! Imagine!) and it marks two years since my friend Steph and I took our first steps on the Camino de Santiago. Both anniversaries include wonderful people, and bring back many fantastic memories of fun times and lots of laughter. With a few challenges along the way (if you were a blog reader two years ago, I am recovering well from The Insect Attack of 2013, thank you).
I reckon it’s always important to celebrate and remember on a day like today, so here are some snaps for today that make me smile.
So many good times. So many good people. Happy Birthday, Pat, and Buen Camino, Steph and our Camino family!