End of a chapter
JULY 2 — I’ll never forget my first day at work. It was nearly three years ago yet feels just like it was yesterday.
Starting a new job is like embarking on a new adventure. There is so much to learn, so much to get used to and so many new people to meet. The prospect of how much you might discover and explore is thrilling; the rush of delving into the unknown almost addictive.
It’s like reading a new chapter in a book: You’re excited to find out how your story progresses. You want to know what happens next.
Beginning that new chapter, you know you’ll meet some new characters and get to know them. And you also know that eventually the chapter will end, and that after you close it you’ll start reading the next chapter. But you push that thought aside, because you’re still on the first page. And so you start reading.
As time passes, you learn to do your job reasonably well. Slowly, you settle into set routines, getting into the rhythm of your workplace. As you get used to your new job, the people you work with slowly become more than just colleagues.
Bit by bit, you find out more and more about them every day. In working together, you start noticing their habits and tendencies, just like they start noticing yours. You have lunch together. You pick up the slack for each other. You laugh and you cry together at work.
And it’s not just the colleagues you see every day. Maybe some of your colleagues live and work in a different office in a different country. You don’t see them every day; in fact, you might never see them in person, ever. But in one way or another you talk to them every day.
In a sense they’re there, one email or one instant message or one call away; they’re just not there physically. They’re not even in your time zone.
Maybe at first it felt strange working with people you’ve never seen, whose faces you don’t even know, and maybe you took longer getting to know them. But over time you begin to get a feel of who they are. Somehow the faceless names, absent from your daily physical space, become as much a part of your chapter as the people sitting next to you.
You find that personal things slowly creep into your communications; you’ll wait for your off-country colleague to get back to you in a few hours because she needs to make dinner for her granddaughters, for example, or maybe you’re horrified to know that your other colleague’s toddler broke her arm. These little things bring the faceless characters of your chapter alive for you.
Over time, all of your colleagues, wherever they are, begin to mean something to you. Some are friends, others not quite, but they’re all woven into the fabric of your daily working life. They join you on your adventure through your chapter. You explore things together. You take on challenges and pull through adversities together.
Together, you keep flipping the pages and go deeper and deeper into the chapter, the story.
Then one day you reach the final page; the chapter ends. You knew it was coming, yet along the way you forgot it would. Time’s up. It’s time to say goodbye and move on to the next chapter.
Such is life. Like a book, you go through different chapters as you go, finding new characters in each. As you read you get to know them, slowly, and as you move from one chapter’s ending to the beginning of the next, some will come along. Most don’t. But you’re okay with saying goodbye, because you had some great times together.
Your shared adventure ended and now you’ll push on without them, but you’ll always have great memories of when you were in the same chapter. And having great memories reading is what a good book is about.
When you walk out that office one last time with your things in a box, you realise what a great chapter it was. It’s about the people you meet, the characters, and what they eventually meant to you.
Your story is probably different from mine. But I hope your latest chapter is memorable for the right reasons. Mine is.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.