A former colleague from two companies ago reached out to me over LinkedIn last week after I had posted that there were open positions at my current office, so we met up for a coffee and tea break at Madison Square Park this afternoon to chat through what he was looking for, why he might be interested in my company and our open role, and why he wanted to leave.
I honestly still couldn’t believe he was there. He had changed roles and levels many times since I left, but I found that place to be the epitome of everything I cannot stand about career and job life in today’s day and age: substituting activity for achievement, people pushing paper without any purpose other than a paycheck, a glorification of the completely mediocre due to politics and favoritism. We discussed this and of course, as conversation continued, we talked about updates on our own lives since then: I got married! I changed jobs twice! He got married AND had two kids! He moved from Queens to Long Island! He owns a house with a front AND backyard! I moved from the Upper East to the Upper West Side!
Whenever I catch up with a colleague after a long time of not seeing them, it’s always these same high-level updates we tend to share, these so-called “milestones” in human life: marriage, children, house or no house status. What if I suddenly just said, hey, I’m doing volunteering for foster care children! Or, by the way, my brother died from suicide, so this is how I view life now?
How deep is a casual catch-up really supposed to be, or is it really just meant to be superficial since the ultimate motive is that one person wants something from the other? I’m honestly not sure.