Until this January, I was the youngest person at the office and it wasn’t even close. The next youngest person had children in high school. Sometimes it’s hard to explain technology and to relate on a personal level, but I’m lucky my coworkers and I work harmoniously.
When the powers-that-be hired Erin, it was a godsend. She was a recent graduate, a few years younger, but anyone who wasn’t alive during the Nixon administration was welcomed. She also gets shit done and helps educate our older coworkers on the wonders that are modern technology.
We quickly became friends. In an office where the average age is late 40s, it wasn’t hard. After working together on several projects that were passed down from Rob (Rob just couldn’t figure it out), we workplace bonded over the stress of working with this incompetent old man. As time went on, she knew what I did and I know what she did, and we operated on similar wavelengths with similar interests while complementing each other with different skill sets. Today, we would be classified as what people call “work spouses”.
Before I begin, let me state that under no circumstance would I ever refer to my closest female work friend as “work wife.” It’s weird, uncouth and this distinction is an unspoken one. She’s engaged, and I’m happily (most of the time) taken. Sure, we all have a work best friend but the work wife is a special bond.
By definition, a work wife is “platonic, close, opposite-sex coupling, with no romantic strings attached.” While there is some debate over whether opposite sexes can have a friendship, I don’t think it’s that hard to simply be friends with someone, but that’s a debate for another time.
Having a work wife is great. Honestly, it is quite lonely working with predominately older coworkers. They look down on people that go out during the week, and the fact that I bought a house with my long-term girlfriend with no immediate plans of marrying her. It was a breath of fresh air to be able to actually talk to someone in a work setting and not be on my best behavior. Grabbing a cup of coffee was no longer like meeting a foreign dignitary, and Erin has a sailor’s mouth, a great trait in a girl.
It’s also nice having someone of the opposite sex to talk to regarding relationships. I remember when she got engaged. Many girls are elated and have a Pinterest started, ready with colors, venues, etc.– something out of a “Things Girls Do After Graduation” column. Not Erin. She was happy, of course, but pissed about having to do all the legwork. I remember her saying, “Jason is sometimes more the woman in this relationship than I am!”
Likewise, it’s nice to have someone to talk to that isn’t your girlfriend. I’m in the process of figuring out engagement rings, what I’m supposed to do with regards to Mrs. Madoff’s sometimes terrible friends or decoding women-speak (“I’M NOT MAD”). Having a native speaker has been essential because sometimes, women, we really don’t know why you are mad.
She also doesn’t engage in work gossip. We are both of the “Work, try not to be noticed, go home, rinse, repeat” life. Far too often, people burn bridges, say the wrong thing or piss off the wrong people. It’s nice to have checks and balances.
The work spouse dynamic is something that everyone should experience. Mirroring a real relationship, it’s about mutual respect, trust and friendship. For every time I’ve forgotten an umbrella and she had one, missed a call and she had my back or she came in with a clutch idea or edit, I’ve returned the favor by having extra Keurig cups, gum for post lunch meetings or by printing her stuff out when she didn’t have a printer. She also keeps an extra set of headphones, just for me when people bring in their terrible kids rather than getting a babysitter like the rest of the free world, and I keep a bottle of ibuprofen, because you never know when a headache comes on.
We’ve learned about each other’s families, been there for family members’ passings, and the drinking and crying that accompanies it. Whenever there is leftover catered food, chocolate or bagels in the break room, you know damn well she’ll watch out for me, and I will 100 percent of the time return the favor.
Maybe your work best friend is also a work spouse. I love my man, Jimmy, but I see him less and less due to him being very busy helping out set up a new branch. Sure, there have been the awkward, “How long have you been dating” when we’ve been out on lunch, but we just laugh it off. Erin has become a good friend, kept me in line and been there for both the good and bad times. .
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