I have another friend visiting this weekend from the PCOR (previous city of residence). We started off as just colleagues. In fact, I was actually part of the search committee that recommended hiring her. Fortunately for us, admin listened and offered her the job. Once SM arrived, we hit it off as friends, too. SM was one of my better friends in my PCOR, so it will be wonderful to see her and hang out. We even room together at conferences (having roommates help cut costs, very important on a librarian’s budget). Work is so much more rewarding when you like spending time with your colleagues and even better when you are friends with your colleagues. We did a lot of socializing at my previous institution: weekend activities, board game nights (geeky but fun, really), going out for dinner, potlucks, weekly TV watching get-togethers, celebrating birthdays and other events, and don’t forget the occasional after work happy hour just because we felt like it. Sure there were colleagues that chose not to participate, but the majority did participate, and despite my move to a new city and job, I still keep in contact and call them friends.
At my current institution, people like the idea of socializing outside of work, but it doesn’t happen very often. Small pockets of people get together, but it’s such a large system I know there are some colleagues I’ve never met. Recently I met a colleague that works in the same building I do and yet I’d never met or even seen him before. We are only 2 floors apart yet we never cross paths. I’ve been here for over eight months now and I still don’t know everyone in my own building. It’s disturbing and kind of sad.
So I’m making an attempt at getting people together outside of work. Admittedly, most of my decision to do this was selfish: I want to know who my colleagues are and maybe even make some new friends. To achieve this goal I’ve been organizing happy hours for my colleagues and whomever people want to bring along (spouses, partners, spouse-equivalents, friends, family, hangers-on, space aliens, etc., you get the idea). And by organizing I mean picking a day and sending an e-mail, no RSVP required, so I use the term organizing very loosely here. These are extremely informal, and certainly not “official” library events. Rather they are meant to be a chance to socialize, get-to-know-better, and see/meet the colleagues that work on the other side of campus in a branch library or even the ones in your own building for that matter without having the distraction of business to attend to or the structure of a meeting. We’ve had one happy hour, and didn’t have a large turnout, but those of us that were there had an excellent time. Today is happy hour number two. Hopefully more people will attend so I can meet more of my colleagues.
My friend that’s coming into town will arrive shortly before this happy hour, so I’m dragging her along. Since I’m the one sending out the e-mails about it, I better put in an appearance, no? Fortunately, SM is a good sport and willing to tag along.
I’m really looking forward to her visit. It means more city exploration, more food adventures, and generally just fun. We don’t have a set schedule, only a general idea of stuff we want to do. We’ll be doing some touristy stuff like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (especially since last time I tried to see it there were “no more tickets today“). As for food, it will depend on our mood. SM isn’t vegetarian like my friend L, so our options are wide open. There will most likely be some cheesesteak action, and maybe some sushi. But I can guarantee that there will be a visit to the Naked Chocolate Cafe again. SM is a hot chocolate nut. So it’s just necessary.