Blunt Egomaniacs Befriend Me

I have a new job! It is exciting yet scary. The idea of working for a new company and a whole new group of people is uncomfortable. I know this is true for everyone starting a new job, but how many people are hired over the phone never having met their coworkers in person? Maybe this happens to more people than I realize, but it is the first time it happened to me. At least social media tools like LinkedIn provided me a glimpse of my new coworkers.

The idea of adjusting to a new work environment made me reflect on the first days at my last company where I met a lot of new people. Each day new friends were made as coworkers bridged the gap and appeared on my Facebook or became my buddies to hang-out with on business trips. For some reason it seemed like it took a long time to get to know each person as well as a whole new culture.

Specifically, I am talking about Israeli culture. Working with a large team in Israel and numerous Israeli’s transplanted to the U. S., avoidance was impossible. At first I thought they were blunt (sometimes rudely so). I thought they had no feelings or were mean. They were very emotional and somehow right about everything (at least that was always their opening position). After spending more time with these blunt egomaniacs I discovered something surprising.

Under the harsh and often scary exterior were smart, caring, and compassionate people. Sure, they would disagree with you on, well, everything! I stopped counting the number of times I was enraged or irritated. In the end though, we seemed to just ‘get over it’. I can say that I always had to be at the top of my game, because this was the smartest group of people I had ever worked with. I loved working with them even when they felt like a thorn in my side. So at times, voices were definitely raised (as is normal with Israeli’s) but in the end it didn’t matter because we had a level of respect that transcended the yelling. Eventually yelling was not needed. Had they “Americanized” or had I “Israelized”?

I was sad about leaving my Israeli friends behind at my last company, but at the same time I felt fortunate that I had the opportunity to learn about a completely different culture. No one can take that away from me. From any job there are takeaways – bonuses, paychecks, a 401k and eventually maybe a retirement or severance check. I like to think that I left with something much more valuable – friendships and cultural understanding. I can only hope for as much at my next job.

First Day Unemployed

Get up at reasonable time then decide yoga (gentle) is excellent course of action for first day unemployed.

Look in mirror – face already breaking out with rash due to stress. Take 50 mg zinc plus regular vitamin. Realize family might have to live on 300 tablet bottle of vitamins if things get tough.

Eat waffle with syrup. Realize no more maple syrup and back to $1.89 bottle of generic Albertson’s brand from now on.

Push reluctant kids into car after arguing about how 7-year-old cannot take DS to school/camp.

Start car….hmmm…making funny sound. Car is vibrating and rumbling. Can’t be good. Brilliant idea…check oil. Check it…a little low. Add quart of oil. Looks good. Start car. Now “Check Engine” light is on. Bugger. Check manual for indicator light ‘meanings’. Irritated it is 8 AM and it is already 100 degrees. Wish manual had Google search! Find needed info in manual…light not blinking = ok to drive, just go slow.

We are off to school. Drop off kids uneventfully. Arrive at health club for yoga. Have wait time! Call car dealer – opening tomorrow 8:30 AM. Yeah, car will be fixed.

Yoga, very nice. Relaxing. Still thinking of list of things to do. Not dwelling on ‘why me’! Way to busy!

Stop at store to buy external drive for computer – $79 for 320 GB. Wow! Actually feeling high-tech now!

Start car…hmmm…”Check Engine” light is off. Car fixed self. Realized no time for car doctor visit.

Doorbell rings…..release papers to sign. Delay reading for a few minutes. Already know what it says.

Phone rings. Coworker (sorry, ex-coworker). Yes, e-mail still works. No one knows why e-mail still working. Forward needed info to ex-coworker. Why sending when no longer working? Want to be good friend. If was non-friend would not have answered phone! Glad had good friends at work!

Check Linked In. More good friends! Recommendations are rolling in. Amazed! Can’t believe overwhelming support!

Time for haircut! Darn, no time for lunch. Not hungry, plus way too busy. Beautiful color and professional coiffed hair! Who wouldn’t want to hire me now?

Rush off to pick up kids. Four-year-old wearing different dress than when dropped off in morning. “Got dress dirty” she says. Borrowed dress from friend because she didn’t have any extra clothes at school. Bad mommy. She has to leave in only skirt, no shirt. Glad she has skirt at least!

Get to parking lot. Phone ringing! Another ex-coworker. Yes, yes, can’t believe they let me go. What? You will write recommendation! Great!

Pick up 7-year-old. Where is he? No one seems to know. Suddenly see him. He is holding DS!! Hmmm…must have snuck it to school. Punishment: 1 week – no DS!

Arrive home. Add note to DS with date of when available. Place on refrigerator for safe keeping.

Paige takes cold macaroni from refrigerator. Eats directly from container then puts self to bed. Meanwhile make pasta with brocolli and salad – all leftovers! Amazing feat…also healthy meal! Husband says, “Great dinner. You must have gone shopping today.” If he only knew how busy I was – no time for shopping!

Can you believe it? I survived day 1 of unemployment. What will happen tomorrow?

Are you joking?

“Someone hurt me at school today”, said my 4-year-old at the dinner table the other night. This seems to be a regular occurrence at school, so I didn’t think much of it. She is constantly telling me who IS and who ISN’T her friend. The status of Paige’s ‘friends’ can change as quickly as New England weather, so it is impossible to stay current. I can’t tell you how many times she has said to me,”You aren’t my friend anymore”, and then proceeded to frown as she shrugged her shoulders up toward her ears. If she does this to me, I can only imagine how she reacts to her playmates.

Finally, I decided I should ask her about the perpetrator of the ‘hurt’. “Who hurt you?”, I asked. At this point I was expecting to hear Paige describe what her friend (or now non-friends) had done to her during the day. Paige finally replied to my question very matter-of-factly, “I hurt myself. I tripped and fell.” Huh? Was that a joke? I don’t think she even knew it was a joke because she said it so seriously. I laughed because it sounded so funny. She thought I was laughing at her (which I guess I was in an odd sort of way). She was a bit sad that I was laughing at her, but I still laughed nonetheless. How could I not?

I anticipate that Paige will return to school on Monday declaring that, “My mommy laughed at me, she isn’t my friend any more.” Oh well, sometimes you just can’t be a perfect parent because I laughed at an unintended joke. I think sometimes the unintended jokes can be the funniest, even if Paige didn’t agree with me.

Robots Replace Need for Friends?

This week I observed something strange as I saw friends become non-friends. A little honesty on Facebook taken the wrong way and the next thing you know people are ‘un-friending’ and quitting Meetup groups. Deep down it is much more than a spat and maybe ‘friend’ was too strong a word to begin with (maybe acquaintances would have been better). Normally I wouldn’t think much of this sort of thing (quibbles amongst friends) but it bothered me because from the surface one person told the truth and the other attacked instead of listening. They were given a mirror, but they didn’t want to look at it. It made me wonder why people have to be on the defensive because of the truth?

The truth can set you free, but only if you listen to it. In this case, someone was willing to go out on a limb and say what needed to be said. I mean if your friends can’t tell you the truth, who will? If you can’t listen to your friends, who can you listen to? Sure, your friends can get on your nerves or irritate you sometimes, but are you going to end a friendship over the truth? Is it so difficult to accept?

Oddly, tonight my 7-year-old was reading a story about a robot. The book talked about all the things that the robot could do, but the boy who owned the robot said the robot’s best talent was being a friend (the boy said this as he was hugging the robot?!?!). Is this the direction our world is going in? Your laptop computer becomes your best friend? Will robots replace our friends because they don’t tell us the truth and they don’t ask questions? I will say that robots are good at unconditional ‘love’ and maybe humans have lost the ability to do this in a sense. If robots can replace humans for ‘friendship’ what do we need more humans for? Supposedly humans have this higher brain function, but it doesn’t look like it sometimes (just watch any reality TV show and you know what I mean).

So I wonder, can you be a better friend today? Or should you just buy your friend a robot to replace you?