Making Friends At Work

It’s no secret that I’m not at all in love with my job. One of the things I disliked about my job when I first started, which might have been the biggest cause of any semblance of regret I felt about leaving my previous job, is the stark difference between the people I worked with before and the people I work with now. I had really come to like most of the people I worked with at my previous job, and most of them liked me.

Although I typically ignore people around me, hang with myself, am quiet–and although I like to think that it doesn’t really matter to me–it’s nice to not only have friendly co-workers but to also be liked by them. I couldn’t really say why, as far as being liked. I’d still honestly prefer to have my own office with a door I can close and just stick earphones in my ears all day, switching between sports talk shows and one of my painstakingly-prepared music playlists. My father doesn’t understand why I don’t want to speak to him in the mornings; my mother doesn’t understand why I don’t want to speak to her for a while in the evenings. Aside from just not being a morning person, I spend all day speaking to people and listening to people speak. Unless it’s about sports, it’s unnatural and exhausting for me.

Despite being like this, at my last job I had developed “work friends.” Work friends aren’t the same as real friends because I don’t spend time with/on these people outside of work. But I’d gotten a couple of outside invitations, and the two guys with whom I was closest participate in trivia every week and had gotten to the point of saying I should be there. The job before that, I had three good work friends. I found one of them recently on LinkedIn, and we messaged a little bit. But my current job is the one where I can say I distinctly felt early on that I wouldn’t ever have any work friends there.

I am not sure I can put my finger on why. A lot of it is age, but then, I do actually tend to get along with older people better anyways. The friend I messaged on LinkedIn is in his 60s. Frankly, it was probably a combination of age and race. But then, for some odd reason, I get along great with white guys a lot of the time (again, the LinkedIn friend is white). So, we have older white guys. Technically, that’s 2 for 2 in my favor, even though I didn’t realize it. Third, it’s the IT department, which means it’s filled with geeks, nerds, faux cool wannabes and crabby @sses. Now, I’m a nerd, but I’m not quite an IT nerd. My IT knowledge impresses people who barely know schitt, but I can’t say that I fit in with the average tech geek mentally or otherwise. I could probably spout off more knowledgeably about literature, grammar, psychology theories, philosophers and social issues–and why not? Those are actually the things I studied in college, not IT or Computer Science. So there’s that, too, but we’re still 2 out of 3.

It has been three months at my new job, and you know what I realized recently? I am liked at work, if nothing else. That will likely translate at some point to having work friends.

Several of my co-workers are a lot friendlier to me than they were a month ago, they speak more and for longer periods of time, they greet me when they see me, they sound happy to hear from me when I contact them and they are fairly eager to assist me (that last one is most important). It’s not just guys, either–I barely work with women, but this also applies to most of the women I work with.

When I spoke with the recruiter who placed me where I work about why I was missing so much work–and this was a couple of weeks ago–he told me he hears good things about me. And I was just thinking, “Okay, he’s talking about my supervisor and the guy who is supposed to be training me.” And I was also thinking he was saying that to kind of reel me back in a little, you know, because I don’t love it there. But then he told me he has heard from other people at my company. Apparently, someone told him I am a “breath of fresh air.” I damn-near asked him outright who it was, mainly just thinking he made it up, but if he wasn’t then just wanting to know who was crazy enough to think that. Then again, the first thing I ever wanted to be was an actress, and so maybe I actually do have the chops for that. I definitely do some acting at work.

The common thread through my last three jobs, though, is my work friends are always men. I definitely work almost exclusively with men at my current job, and, though I don’t have work friends yet, there are a couple of guys I see that starting to happen with. There’s also Lazy Tech, but I don’t think it’d be right to call him a friend since I rip on him so much and will continue to do so. My previous job was a small business, so, even though I worked directly with guys I was also in regular contact with women. My work friends there still were guys. The job I had before that one was a very big, very mixed environment, and, still, my work friends were guys.

I can’t figure it out, especially the white men part (for those who don’t know, I’m black). Even though I’m a lesbian, I tend to think I know more about men than most women do. I have just always felt that men are easier to figure out and are more transparent, more direct with their thoughts, than women are. Women are confusing as hell, to the point where I don’t know whether to laugh or just gawk in complete shock when women are frustrated with guys or a guy because they don’t understand XYZ about men or why men do ABC and such. It’s not usually even a “how can you not know this” moment so much as it is a “look who’s talking” moment. But there’s one thing I’m not sure of, and it’s related to the question of why I, a lesbian, “click” with men. And it’s not just the sports thing, because I don’t talk about sports with most guys at work.

See, my theory had been that men are nicer to women they find attractive. But I don’t consider myself attractive, and I am rarely told that I’m attractive. When I’m told that I’m attractive, it’s by black guys. Even though you can find examples to the contrary, my general belief is that white guys don’t find black women that attractive. You’ll find a lot of PC comments to the contrary and a lot of “Yeah, we like black women” types of things at times, but if you look around at society, dating and the kind of black women who are used to argue to the contrary–always the same, like, two or three black female celebrities–plus just throwing in the way I was told by white “friends” growing up that they don’t find blacks attractive–I cannot really shake the idea that, particularly, white men are usually not that into black women. It’s cool with me if they’re not because it’s one of the few things that makes me feel comfortable working with white men–that I know I won’t ever have to fend off unwelcome advances. I have never been wrong about that, either.

So maybe there’s another answer, at least in my case (because I still think men are nicer to women they find attractive). Maybe some men feel comfortable with me precisely because I’m not attractive and, being a breath of fresh air, because I’m not threatening. Men definitely like “nice” and “friendly” women, and, even though I am not these things by nature, I fake these qualities at work–apparently, pretty well.

Okay, but then why do I often have issues with women, or at least don’t get anywhere near the same level of openness and friendliness from women? Ah. Might as well not even get started on that one. Like I said–women are confusing as hell. I’m having to tell myself daily to stop with trying to figure out women, whether an individual one such as my “ex” or women in general.

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