“Do you want to confab with us today around noon?” The e-mail dropped into my Inbox at the perfect time, Monday morning. This week is heavy with committee meetings and a big off campus conference on Friday in addition to teaching preparation and hours of grading time. I needed to catch my breath and touching base with friends for a few minutes sounded perfect — a jump start to the week. Although we don’t have a water cooler to gather around, we make an effort to check in with each other. It’s important to establish a relationship built on integrity and trust. According to Best Health magazine, work friends are good for you. They make your life easier, they improve your performance, they keep you on track, they understand your stresses and successes and they’re a surrogate family (whether we like it or not).
My COD colleagues/friends are the greatest. We’ve been working together in our Communications subdivision for many years now, navigating the professional landscape of teaching in a community college. If I have questions or concerns, my colleagues will go to great lengths to figure it out, make a recommendation or find a resolution. We share student stories, scholarly journal articles and upcoming events in our field. Their collective knowledge encourages me to stretch and reach for the best methods in teaching, publish articles, present at conferences and try something new.
We talk about our families, write sympathy cards, celebrate baby showers and honor retirements. Work is life and life is work. When my husband was in the Air Force and stationed far away on a military base for training, one of my dear colleagues surprised me by placing a beautiful stack of stationary in my mailbox with a note that read, “Keep writing.” When our first daughter was born my colleagues came to visit and brought gifts including a huge bag of fresh ground coffee to stay up late with our newborn. When I forgot my lunch one of my colleagues did not hesitate to run to our cafeteria and minutes later appear at my door holding a sandwich, pretzels and a Coke from the fountain (my favorite). These are the people I live with on campus — altruistic, funny, smart people. They make me laugh and admittedly have also made me cry. Like any working relationship, we have encountered disagreements and disappointments, but this group of amazing humans make coming to work every day well worth it. I couldn’t do it without them.