I spent the first day of the new year at work. And I am quite happy with that.
I work in a big city television newsroom. We run around a lot, yell a lot, act poorly a lot. It can be a high stress environment, and we let that stress be a lame excuse for poor behavior.
More than 10 years ago, I was at work on a holiday. At the time, my desk adjoined the desk of a slightly older coworker. She was a woman I admired greatly, and on whom I may have had a little crush.
Trying to act all cool and hard-assed, I leaned over to her and said how much it sucked to have to work a holiday… sheesh, we have so many better things to do than work. I was young, and I believed that you were supposed to complain. That’s what people do, especially about work. Nothing draws coworkers together better than a mutual complaint session.
She looked up from a novel she was reading with a look of disapproval.
“Look around this place,” she said. “Everyone is in a good mood, everyone is laid back, you will never have less stress in this place than you do on a holiday. Enjoy these days, enjoy your coworkers on days like these, have fun on these days. There aren’t many other days when you can be so relaxed while doing your job.”
She left the station a few months later.
I think of her fondly every holiday as I go to work wearing jeans, take a little more time to read the newspaper and check out the internet, wander back to parts of the newsroom and sit and chat with people I don’t normally get to see.
I also think of her when I start to launch into an ill-thought complaint, a complaint for the sake of complaining.
It’s a cheap easy way to start conversation. And as my old friend showed me, sometimes the best intended complaints can just be dead wrong.