A few years ago coworkers and I went to Bob’s Bar, Cultural Hub of the Midwest, for drinks on a Saturday night. Hiren (pronouneced he-rain) bought drinks for Kevin, Bob (hence the choice of Bob’s Bar) and me all night. Why? Because his “girlfriend” in India had just gotten her master’s degree, so he felt like celebrating. I put “girlfriend” in quotes because he never mentioned her name, they’d been physically apart for years, and we never saw pictures. But hey, who’s gonna turn down free beer? At the time, I’d worked with Hiren for a few months, Bob was pretty new, and Kevin was about to move to Texas to work remotely.
Today was the last day at my employer for all three of them. With Kevin’s departure especially, it felt like the end of an era, the closing of a chapter in my work-life.
I’ve worked with Kevin for five or six years and over that time we became good friends, even gardening together for a summer. We had very similar senses of humor and could talk on a wide range of topics: religion to filesystems to ghosts to hops. He introduce me to Fight Club, and for a few years, we actively worked Fight Club references into a conversation almost every day. Unfortunately, Kevin started working remotely from Austin two years ago, when I really started my photography kick, so I don’t have any pictures of him.
I’ve worked with Bob for about two years. He was the manager of the group I worked with, while I was the technical lead, or, he was the people person, I was the technology person. We were like yin and yang. While Kevin and I shared a lot of common language and understanding about technology, I had to actively translate my knowledge into words Bob would understand. Don’t get me wrong–he wasn’t a pointy-haired-boss, but he didn’t have the depth of understanding that Kevin and I did. Bob was a great leader for the team. They thrived on his leadership, and I thrived as his peer. That’s Bob at the top of this post. We traveled a few times together, and I think I’ve taken a picture of him drinking a beer on every trip. During our fair-well dinner last night, I had to create one last image, “Bob and Stella”.
I’ve worked with Hiren just a little longer than Bob, and he was the last person I helped hire into the team. He’s a young single guy and is fond of a good night out. Actually, discussing Hiren’s social life was the bulk of our relationship. He seemed to have a pretty wide network of friends and was frequently traveling to New York or Chicago, or friends were crashing at his place for a long weekend of debauchery. One night, evidently, neighbors in his apartment complex called the cops on him twice because of noise.
Bob and Kevin left the company as part of a recent “streamlining” effort. Downsizing, if you will. 40 people out of 2000 in IT were let go, and two were on my team. Yes, I’m still bitter. Hiren left to go live and work in New York City. He was always a big-city kind of guy.
I’m not good at maintaining friendships outside of work and having these three friends all depart on the same day has been pretty tough. They’re leaving my employer, not me, but I know I suck at maintaining those connections outside of the office construct. We’re all friends on facebook so maybe that will help. Maybe.
Time to turn the page and see what the next chapter holds.