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Friday, June 29, 2007

Second-Best Friends

The outfit for which I work is closing. It has lost money for several years and the brass of the parent company, no doubt considering at once the sad balance sheet, the state of the industry and the skyrocketing property values decided it was in the shareholders' best interest to jettison the operation and sell the property to real estate interests. No argument there, they were exercising their fiduciary responsibilities as officers of a publicly traded company and could do no other. A good number of employees have been let go but most of them, even the unionized ones, agree the severance package is generous and that they have been treated fairly. I am one of the lucky ones, my job was spared; my knowledge of a rather arcane subject is sufficient enough the company has decided to hang on to me.

Still, today was a sad one. There have been over the weeks several goodbye parties but today's was the most poignant and the best, perhaps because of its impromptu nature. There is a bar up the street and at quitting time many of those whose last day was today headed up to the joint to knock back a few and share memories. The chief honcho of the studio got wind of that, went to the bar himself, plunked down his credit card and instructed the bartender to take care of everyone the next several hours, a generous gesture. As you might imagine even more people showed up, including myself, to say goodbye and drink gratis. I was moved observing this disparate but talented bunch with whom I had worked because I am not likely to see most of them again, despite my seeing them everyday these past ten years. Friends at work are not like friends outside of work: we usually don't invite them to our homes nor into our private lives. But they are our friends anyway. Over the years I have been to the funerals of three of my work friends and mourned the deaths of several more. I have found myself laughing myself silly with some of them, getting drunk with others and commiserating over losses with others still.

I can only speak for myself of course but I think it is impossible for most people to have more than a few close personal friends (and am suspicious of those who claim otherwise). But it is not impossible to have many second-best friends, like those many co-workers whom I will so miss, and I think they are as much a blessing from Him as those few close chums (whom we see far less frequently, ironically) who are our best friends. Thanks be to God.

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