When colleagues leave

A colleague and I took a walk in today’s blistering heat to get some iced matcha tea. He’s been pretty unhappy for the last 7-8 months and has been actively looking for a new role. He was telling me about his latest offer on the table, the trade offs he’d have to make if he accepted this job. He said he realized that although he complains about his current job and our company now, he really doesn’t have it so bad after all because there are so many horrible jobs and companies out there that are 100 times worse than where we are today.

What I also thought about while on our walk is that when colleagues leave, it’s always kind of the same pattern: you chat a lot when you work together. You take walks and go out for coffee and tea breaks, you text and Slack actively and enthusiastically while you are working together. And then, when that person leaves, he will invariably say he will keep in touch, we’ll be friends, we’ll still meet for coffee or lunch. It might happen once or twice after he leaves, but then it will trickle off, and you’ll be nothing more than Instagram or Facebook “friends” — loosely connected, faintly aware of each others’ lives based on what you share on social media, but really, nothing else. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but this is generally how it goes.

It’s kind of sad. In that sense, we’re all replaceable as colleagues, friends, confidantes. No one really matters that much personally, even when you might think for a second they do. That “bond” you shared will be replaced by another bond he will share with someone else in just a few months.

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