Tuesday, January 6, 2015

High Above the Subway Sub-Shop

Subtitle: Right Association

The ferrets of melancholy are at their most wistful on wintr’y days such as this.  It is best to distract them with activities lest their sighing lead to sulking or even, dare I suggest, brooding.

The title of this post refers to my first place of employment in the market research field. From the office on any given January morning, looking out of the second story window that faced the snow-slush gray Bank One building across the narrow avenue, you could see well-bundled pedestrians attempting to navigate the chaotic and partially concealed ice patterns on the sidewalks.  Snowplows could be heard scraping the asphalt, when they bothered to come out.  And the smell of fresh-baked bread, radiating through the air vents from the Subway ovens downstairs, filled the office with that distinct Subway fragrance…and cravings for a Cold Cut Combo, usually around 11 am.

Of course no one would mistake those for the Halcyon Days.  Not then and not even now, as time and memory conspire to smooth out the rougher patches.  The money was decent for a college student, not so much for a graduate.  The bitter yet fading recession of the early 90s was still very much top-of-mind, so few of the employees were embracing a full-on laissez les bon temps rouler mentality.  But we worked hard and, as I look back on it, the camaraderie made the time pass far more pleasantly than anyone of us could or should have expected. 

Perhaps with coworkers, as Tim Canterbury once opined, “all you’ve got in common is the fact that you walk around on the same bit of carpet for eight hours a day.”  That said, it was a form of community – sharing not just physical proximity or the same business name on our paychecks – but a gathering of people who, for a time, enjoyed the company we kept when we found ourselves at that place on Evergreen.

Recognizing the Heraclitus quote, “no one walks in the same river twice,” I still use that experience as the gold-standard for collegiality.  Should I find myself back in a traditional office environment in Corporate America, I would count myself fortunate to find coworkers like those again.  Treading diligently alongside thoughtful, hard-working, purpose-filled and respectful coworkers, on our shared carpet, is a thought that warms the heart. Even on a frosty day such as this.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

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