I have been inexplicably lucky over the years. I have developed so many friendships that I don’t really deserve to have. Over the course of the next few Fridays I want to tell you about some of them – not all of them, just some of those which have endured for a decade or more
Starting a new job is always strange. A new building, a new work culture and more new people than you can begin to remember. I’ve changed jobs a few times throughout my alleged career – sometimes because I received a better offer, sometimes out of necessity – and yet every time it is the same. It is all new people, again and again.
Well, almost new people.
I started a new job in October 1999. I found it so strange and disorienting that I actually fell ill over the Millennium and in the weeks afterwards. This was despite having recruited Jasmin from my previous job but one to work with me and working with the most intriguing lawyer I shall ever work with. At the time something did not feel right and it affected me, although I never did really work out what it was.
An additional problem was that Jasmin hated the place as well and left after six months. That left me with a bit of a problem, because she would leave just before I married Helen and went on honeymoon, leaving others to recruit someone to replace her.
(I stress at this point that I don’t blame Jasmin at all for this. If you are not happy somewhere there is no point in staying and she wouldn’t be the last person I introduced to that firm who had problems with the environment there)
I returned to work after almost a month away to two surprises. One was that my office had been redecorated, in a colour I approved of. The other was the news that a replacement for Jasmin had been found.
Then they gave me a name.
Immediately, I was transported back in time by roughly six years, to the day that I started work two jobs previously. I was beginning work at the biggest firm I had ever worked for to that point or this. Being introduced to everyone was overwhelming, there were just so many of them. One in particular stood out, though. Amid the chorus of ‘hello’ and ‘pleased to meet you’ I had met a heavily pregnant lady in her last week with the firm. Introduced to me, her response was to laugh and say ‘Good luck’.
A quick check with some other friends from that job confirmed that this was indeed the same person, now the mother of a five year old daughter and returning to work. I was assured that I would have a great time working with her.
That turned out to be a huge understatement. Hazel had an enormously chaotic time away from work, but inside of the office she was a marvel. Being almost impossible to fool is a great talent in itself and she missed nothing during our time working together (well, other than one of my better April Fool tricks) Along the way we had some great fun and, more importantly, moved on from simply being work colleagues to being good friends.
It is now more than six years since we stopped working together, but that friendship has continued. When Caro and I were married we couldn’t think of anyone better to act as our chief usher and we were delighted that Hazel agreed to do the job. She’s been more than a friend over the years – and that little girl turns 18 this September, so it is a good few years – and we were both thrilled when she finally met the love of her life and married him.
Life may never be easy for her – it is hard to be happy at work when you are almost preternaturally immune to all of the tricks people try to pull on you – but I’ll always be proud to call her my friend.
PS: Hazel has a blog of her own. It is much better written than this one. If she wasn’t such a good friend I would, frankly, be insanely jealous.