Prior to leaving India, I had a job. A very good one at that. My official title was “Office Assistant.” I was hired barely six months after I graduated high school. I started out in the Marketing Department and was moved to Loans where I worked for the next four and a half years. In May I was moved again to the New Accounts department, which I was not happy about. It isn’t that I don’t like that department (I like the people in that department) but I don’t like the work there. I grew to love everyone in the Loan department and I didn’t mind the work there. New Accounts work – because I wasn’t fully trained – was monotonous. I was never truly really fully trained for anything because I’m a part-time employee and everyone knows I plan on leaving eventually. The President frequently tells me that I will have a full-time job the moment I say I want one. I just graduated college in May so I think he was hoping I’d choose to commit myself fully, but instead I left for India and started my Master’s program. He said a position would still be open for me if I decided to come back (I think we both knew it was “when,” not “if”).
I go home in less than a month, and a week ago I wrote to the VP of HR asking about how it looked for me. She said she’d get back to me when she had a definitive answer about my placement.
I have this job because of my mom. She has been working there since 2004 and has climbed the ladder to Branch Manager. At the time I was hired, the Pres. asked my mom what I was doing since I had graduated high school not too long ago. He asked her this two weeks after I quit my first and worst job without another one lined up. I applied and interviewed at Macy’s and David’s Bridal. I didn’t get past an initial interview at Macy’s because I wasn’t willing to miss class for work. At DB, I made it past the initial group interview and to a second individual one but didn’t make the cut because I didn’t have any commission experience. So, I had no job and doubted my decision to quit my job even though I hated it with every fiber of my being. Then one night, my mom said, “How would you like to work with us? He said you would be put into Marketing as an assistant, working on news letters and things like that. Just show up every day and do your best, don’t embarrass me!” I’ve been so thankful for my job ever since.
At first, I was uncomfortable being around 60+ people on a daily basis, especially since they were so much older than me (even now, I believe only one or two people are younger than me). Since my mom had been working there for eight years at this point, I had met a handful of people on a few occasions but regardless of whether they’d met me prior, I was treated as her daughter and that bothered me. After about two or three years working, people really started to interact with me forgetting that I was another co-worker’s daughter. I became my own person there, I suppose. I really love some of my co-workers. Real love, the way you love family and friends. They’re my second family, and I love that everyone at my work place refers to everyone else as family. I’m particularly close to a handful of people, and before I left, a bunch of my co-workers gave me envelopes with cards and money totaling roughly $250 – $300. From co-workers! One hugged me on my last day of work and we looked at each other and both had tears in our eyes. Another one avoided me the day before I left (I went in to drop off donuts and goodies for my departments) because she was sad and didn’t want to see me and cry (I would have cried if I said bye or hugged her, quite honestly). I almost cried when I said goodbye to the VP of HR because she sounded like she was going to cry when she told me to have fun but that I needed to come back to them. I almost cried when my “surrogate dad” (as my mom calls him) hugged me as I got into the elevator. <- That co-worker is one of my absolute favorites. He’s extremely sarcastic with a biting wit and is the “house chef.” He bakes fresh bread on Fridays and often serves it with homemade tapenade or pesto, and others will bring assortments of cold cuts and cheeses for us to snack on since Fridays we work 8:30am – 6:15pm. He taught me how to bake no-knead bread and mochi. Some days I’d get to work and he would have prepared breakfast for me, whether eggs or a full breakfast burrito. Since I’m a poor college student and often eat sad, small lunches, he’ll often offer to cook lunch for me as he makes his own, or he’ll tell me to sit with him and share whatever he has (he’s a wonderful, wonderful cook). He told me he’d look forward to seeing me when I come home, unless I meet a “rich, handsome, Indian prince” and decide to stay. In retrospect, I think we all acted a bit silly since everyone knew I wasn’t quitting, but I guess going from seeing people five days a week to not at all for over four months is a drastic shift.
I’m lucky to work with people that evoke those kinds of emotions. I’ve never once dreaded going to work because I didn’t want to be there. There were days I didn’t want to go to work because I had a lot of homework or because I was sick, but never because I didn’t want to be there. I’ve always been happy at work because I work for a wonderful company. It isn’t even the gifts or parties we get. On Christmas and New Year’s Eve we close half-day and everyone from the other branches will come to our branch (the main branch) and we’ll have lunch and play games. At the end, everyone exchanges drawn-out hugs, wishes safe drives home, and says their goodbyes until the next day of work. So many people have 20+ years of service. So many people dedicating that much of their lives to our company is obviously a good sign. Some have 40+ years. I honestly cannot wait to go back to them in December, and I’ve thought about my co-workers regularly while in India. I even brought with me photos from our employee party just days before I left for India. The country club was serving endless mimosas so my face is red in all of the photos.
I’m thinking about this because this morning, I woke up to a message from my co-worker asking if I’d want to participate in the Loan Department Secret Santa. I’m technically no longer part of that department, but it made me even more happy that they still want me to participate in their reindeer games (they even threw a potluck for me before I left). Of course I said yes. I told HR to also put my name into the company-wide Secret Santa too. The holidays are great at my work place. HR will go around dressed up as elves and one male co-worker will always dress up as Santa (one year, someone from Sales – a man – dressed up as Mrs. Claus and distributed gifts) and pass out gifts. It’s that everyone I work with is happy that makes it a good place. HR and the appropriate managers who conduct interviews and do the hiring really take into consideration both background and their individual personality. Everyone I work with meshes together so well, and that’s what makes my work place less of a building where we all come to do work, and more of a big, warm house full of laughter and love. Seriously: my mom works on the first floor and I can hear her laughing from the second floor; the VP of HR and one of the loan officers have laughs so loud that you can hear them from the other end of the building (and they’re always laughing about something, trust me); members in the lobby will often laugh and ask what’s so funny when they can hear everyone laughing from the lunch room. I’m an extremely lucky girl to have that kind of work environment. Most days it doesn’t even feel like I’m going to work – I just feel like I’m going to a home away from home.