Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Working Side by Side

 Joe and I sort of went our separate ways about 15 years ago.

By that I mean when his father and I divorced, I moved into an apartment and Joe and Jimmy stayed in the house they grew up in with their father.  Joe was 21 at the time and just finishing up college.  Jimmy was 18 and just finishing up high school .

Interestingly enough, shortly after he graduated college, Joe applied for and got a job working at the same company as I did.   He was a part timer for about a year and we worked in different locations.
When a full time position opened up in the group that I was in,  he interviewed and got the job.  His cube was two aisles down from mine.

I firmly believe that the fact we had work in common bridged the gap that the separation from his father may have caused.

Even though my son and I worked in the same department, we did not have the same immediate supervisor.

I have one memory that still pains me when I think of it. 

I had an uncomfortable situation that I needed to talk to my supervisor about.  Joe's cube was right next to her cube.  There is no privacy when work spaces are cubicles.  I made sure that I waited until Joe's regular lunch hour before I approached my boss.

As our discussion progressed, emotions ran high and I could not keep mine in check.  As I was tearfully pleading my case,  I suddenly heard my son's voice from the other side of the cube wall and I realized that he had been there the whole time and had heard everything.

I immediately walked out, left the building and tried to calm down.  After I regained my composure, I went back into the building and went straight over to my son's cube.

Joe was not a talker.  He generally communicated through facial expressions and shoulder shrugs.
I asked if he heard and he shook his head yes.  I was not exactly sure how he felt, but I like to think that he was upset with my boss for making his mother cry.

He stayed with that same company and went to work every day until 2 months before he died.      Joe was a conscientiousness employee with a super work ethic.  Many of the people that he and I both worked with confirmed that when they came to pay their respects at his funeral. I was very proud of him.

As an aside, my daughter also got a job with that company and at one point all three of us worked there together.  I got to see them every day until I retired which was one of the best benefits I could have ever asked for. 

I believe that having my children experience the "work" me elevated our relationship to a peer-to-peer status.


  1. I taught all three of my sons at least four periods a day,   for at least two school years each, while they were in classes of thirty or thirty-one peers in the middle school.  It was (and remains) the height of my education career,  even surpassing the annual full-length, student productions of Shakespeare.
    I taught my oldest son the building trade, before I began to teach, and he now runs a construction crew in the summer time.  I  worked under him last summer, quite successfully, and will continue to do so.    I agree that being in the same environment with your kids, whether while children or adults, heightens the experience. 

  2. I had the opportunity to work with my oldest son for several months. I think it's good for parents and children to see each other outside of the family context--it helps us flesh each other out as true individuals.