Ed Cook: Friends at My New Job

On some level we all value our friends.  We all have them.  Some are closer than others of course, some are very close, some are good friends, others are acquaintances and some are folks you see once in a blue moon, but we have good memories from all of them.  Otherwise, logically, they would not be friends.  I have mentioned in this space that I really enjoy getting back in touch with long-time friends, like Mel and Julie, through Facebook.  I am a fairly sentimental guy, and…hey, I like people.

I was in the Banking Industry for 22 years, until 1999, and knew a lot of people in Banking and Mortgage Lending.  Recently I have had a chance to re-connect with two of the closest friends I have ever had, and let me tell you it is great. Its kind-of like Facebook in person!  They have been good friends for OVER 30 years.  Oh yes, I have been in touch, and talked to them regularly over that time, but at my new job I am working with them every day.

One of them, Kathy, hired me as a co-op student when I was 19 years old.  She is about ten years older than I but we are very similar personalities.  When I worked for her and in the years following we had a number of mutual work friends so we went to parties, and many other work-friend events.  She loved my mother’s chocolate chip cookies so I always brought a batch when invited to her apartment for a party.  As she was older, she became a confidant and advice giver.  She always seemed to be right when giving advice on girls, jobs, and the many other subjects I asked her about.  She too is an only child and so we talked about “only child stuff” too, stuff that only and Only Child can understand.  I tried to be there for her when needed but she probably sought the advice of someone her own age.  Very understandable.  It is great to reconnect, and talk from time to time at work or lunch.

To the other real close friend Charlene, I was younger by a year or two, but it was me giving her advice, guidance and friendship.  She looked up to me, because I had the college degree when I was young, I was able to gain some success early in my career, and I was willing to be friends with, and give advice to a girl who grew up in a rough area of Boston in the 60’s and 70’s.  She even set me up with a couple of girls when I was young and single.  Over the years I bugged her to improve her education,   encouraged her to keep with it when it was hard, helped her study a few times, and she got her degree at night, while raising a daughter, alone.  She also has a fabulous singing voice.  In 1996 we had a reunion of the bank we worked for back in the early 1980’s.  She went to the DJ, got the microphone and stopped the show by singing for a few minutes and got a standing “O”. I had tried to have her sing at my wedding but she was unavailable.  But she still has a million watt smile, and greeted me with a big hug on my first day.  She still looks like she is 20, same as when I met her.

There are 4 other friends at this job too.  Two who were GOOD work friends, and two who were in the Work Acquaintance group and one of those would have “graduated” to Good friend but I only worked with her for about a year.

Of the good friends, one I worked with at my last Bank job.  She is a great gal.  Very smart, very nice.  While I knew her in the bank job she got divorced and re-married and raised two adorable daughters from the first marriage.  She never was fortunate enough to go past high school, but she was promoted three times based on smarts and good work.  We got to know each other very well when she was promoted to Branch Manager and, as Facilities Manager, I opened and then moved that branch to a new location. You work very closely with someone in that situation.  Everyone wanted to work in her branch.  She was the best Branch Manager we had, and everybody knew it.  I’d like to talk to her more but she sits right next to my boss who frowns on any fraternization.

The other good friend is the reason I am at this job, and I am very proud of him.  How’s this for small world.  I called the first friend described above to say hello a few months ago while I was still unemployed.  She mentioned that this guy was there and was one of the directors in the organization.  She e-mailed me to say he’d like me to call him to re-connect.  So I did.  We talked for a while and he asked if I had thought of getting back into the mortgage business.  Since I have not been in banking for 11 years or mortgages for 25 I told him that I really had not, but given my unemployment I’d gladly think about it if he had something open.  A couple of weeks later, I get an email from him asking if I would be able to come in to talk to him and a manager about a job.  I said sure and was in his office the next day. Hey, I was unemployed, it wasn’t like I had a lot of plans.  So, despite the fact that I have not done the function he needed me to do in 29 years, and my education and last 25 years of work make me totally overqualified and unqualified, he hired me.  (Really, if you have not done something for 29 years are you qualified for it?) I’m not in love with the job function, I got out of it in 1982 because I did not like it, but it is a job and after being out of work a year, a job is a great thing.  But I digress…this is about friendship.

The guy who hired me, you see, has been a good friend since 1981, when I hired him, as a co-op student, and trained him to do mortgage servicing.  He stayed with it and became very successful in the field.  So the lesson of this is be good to people, stay in touch with friends, and never burn a bridge, because you never know when that old friend will ask you to come back over that bridge.