When I was single living in Jakarta, Indonesia, my social life evolved around my work. I should probably say: thanks to my job, I had a social life. Sad but true. Working as a journalist, I had to go places and invested some time socializing with who we called back home nara sumber or ‘sources’. I worked for a weekly automotive tabloid for a year, then moved to a biweekly magazine which cover automotive and its life style for about 4 years. Socializing to car modification shops, automotive clubs, automotive-related events, and such, gave me a good network of ‘friends’. Going to cafes or clubs with my fellow journalists to attend automotive-related events, was probably my main agenda for the weekends (other than going to the circuit). My work socialization also sent me out of town and out of the country. Other than my immediate family and coworkers, my cell phone contacts were work-related. I met my best friend Mila thanks to my work socialization. So, socializing at work in this matter was a must and not a pain at all.
Now, living in the US, I do less work socialization. I actually tend to avoid it. I don’t eat my lunch in the employee break room everyday. I went home to let Max, our dog, out. Sometimes Doug came home to join me for lunch, sometimes we go out. There are some occasion I ate lunch at the break room: I don’t want to freeze my tropical butt out to drive home in the winter (or raining heavily in spring or fall), or if I needed extra hour. When I’m there eating my lunch with some other employees from the other department, we don’t chit-chat so much either. Most of the female employees preferred to eat their lunch and watch the soap opera on TV.
I understand that socializing with people at work is essential to effective and productive teamwork. But I just can’t do it. My coworkers are all female now. Back then, when I was a journalist, my coworkers were 98% male. I got along fine with them. No gossiping, no backstabbing, no diva. I don’t mean to say that the people I work with now are evil. But I just can’t stand butt-kissers and people who think they’re better from the others just because their spouse’s income or job title.
I bailed on our department’s ‘Christmas Party’ twice already (really uncomfortable with the ‘Christmas’ thing, if they’d call it ‘Holiday Party’ I probably would’ve come. Maybe.). My first department’s ‘Christmas Party’ was in 2004 and awestrucked on how awkward it was. Doctors sat with doctors (and their spouses), nurses were grouping with the other nurses (and their spouses), and there we were front desk crew and medical records sat together. That’s why I didn’t show up at one of our docs farewell party the next year because I know it’d be the same scenario. I didn’t participate in Girl’s Night Out held at a country bar *yee haw* because… I really didn’t want to socialize by gossiping.
I got along pretty well with two former receptionists who had moved out of state. We were about the same age, have little kids, and the same sick taste of humor. This girl and I went to lunch together for a number of times, we even went to a Quit Smoking meeting together just to realize that we were the only two participants! *Miss you, Kari!* I went out with her and the other girl once to have dinner and watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I had invited the two to my house for a social occasion. I mean, I’m not really anti-social with people from work. I just can’t stand the idea of spending time outside work when I feel like I’ve spent enough time with them at work. Does that make any sense at all?