Friday, August 28, 2009

A Lunch With Great Friends

Today I am having lunch with old friends.

People I worked on a contract with for seven years.

I was the "new" guy, as the rest had worked on this contract for fourteen years total.

This lunch is occurring because one of the team members moved to British Columbia when the contract ended. He was chasing his dream of living out west. But a family matter brings him back to Windsor for a week.

I received his email last week through facebook.

The very reason I ever started using facebook was so that I could keep in touch with this fellow. For that period we worked together we became very good friends. His wife actually sold us the house we live in today.

So I created a facebook account, and so did he. We agreed to do this during a night on the town in Toronto while both there on business for different reasons. Pat created one to.

So Pat was my very first contact on facebook. But I never ever talked to him on there.

Within the course of a couple of days, my friends list on facebook grew to a huge number of people I have known in all parts of the continent that I have lived. High school friends I had thought about and tried to contact using more primitive means but failed suddenly showed up on facebook.

Poof. Instant contact.

But no Pat.

If you were to look at my friends list, you would see a long list of pictures of smiling faces. All but Pat. His was still the grey silhouette – only his name beside it, with no activity.

As time passed on, and things changed, Pat's profile remained empty. And I was talking to friends from Lawrenceville, Minneapolis, Baton Rouge, London , Toronto, and Ottawa. My list continued to expand with friends from Dublin Ireland and the U.K.

But still no Pat.

Last week – I received an email. It said that Pat had added me as a friend on facebook.

I logged into facebook later that evening. There was a picture of Pat with his lovely wife and two children.

"Who the hell was that other guy?", I wondered.

So I wrote a note to the grey faced silhouette also named Pat.

A reply came back. "Wow, I had no idea I even had this account!". Indeed it was Pat.

In the days of that contract, we had a long standing tradition Fridays to that our team would go out together for lunch. There was a little Irish pub down the road from the office called Murphy's. We would go and sit and have great conversation while having a pint. The food was pretty mediocre, but we didn't really go to Murphy's for the food.

We went for each other's company.

Today we will all meet up again for lunch. But Murphy's is only an empty shell on a street corner. Instead we will meet up at an old roadhouse tavern on the outskirts of town, similar in atmosphere to Murphy's – but not Murphy's.

Pat will be there, and so will the few of us remaining at the company after the contract. And Roseanne will be there as well – who I used to tease by showing her pickle jars – asking her if we could keep her brain full of adjudication rules in there – because we would never learn all that she knew about that process.

And Crazy Roy will be there. I call him Crazy Roy out of respect, because the man is indeed a genious in my book – but slightly past the edge of eccentricity. I learned an awful lot from Crazy Roy, who was famous for his long grey beard and hair pulled back into a pony tail. Truly one of the most unique individuals I have ever met.

It will be good to be there with them all again. To sit and listen to them chat. To hear about what they are working on.

To feel that warmth of lost camaraderie.

A lot of workplace teams have lunch together on Fridays, or they get together for drinks on a chosen night – like paystub Thursdays. These are great experiences that build stronger teams – more committed to each other – more passion developing for what they do together.

But this team was the most passionate team I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of.

Perhaps at lunch I will suggest to those of the team not on facebook to join. And I will explain to them that we could create a group in facebook , and call it Murphy's. And we could find a time when we could all meet inside there and chat – the page decorated like the old Irish pub, maybe even post a picture of the old menu.

And maybe they would come. And chat.

But it wouldn't be the same. Not like sitting there at the old round table – elbows wet from the sweat of the pint glass as we laugh and talk about what's going on.

But it would never be the same.

Social networking has its place. It has its function. But it will never replace the camaraderie of really good friends sitting at a table – having a pint and a bite and the chatter and the laughs.

So today I will cherish this lunch. Because you can never be sure that you can all be together like that again.

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