“The graveyards are full of irreplaceable men,” a former colleague once remarked to me.
I had told him how much he would be missed, and how hard he would be to replace, after he had announced that he was leaving the paper. He was a very dedicated editor and writer, often working late into the night after starting in the early afternoon. He put in a lot of free hours.
I’ve seen a lot of people come and go over the years at The Gazette, some of whom called the paper their second home, and their colleagues “family.”
Indeed, the workplace is a second home for the average worker. After all, we probably spend more waking hours at work during the week than we do at home (i.e. we sleep 7 or 8 hours a night at home, and, presumably, we don’t sleep at all at work). And in some of the business profiles I’ve edited over the years, I’ve seen bosses refer to their workforce as family, i.e. “We’re like family in this company.”
Personally, if I were to use the word “family” in reference to colleagues, I would qualify it with “fair-weather.” As in “fair-weather friends.” Colleagues are only “family” until they’re not, much like in-laws are only family until you get a divorce or your spouse dies — and they all forget about you. When you leave a company, you’re not family anymore.
I’ve also seen that no matter how hard people work and how far they went beyond the call of duty, such as putting in 12-hour days when they were only paid for 7 hours, their dedication, hard work and accomplishments are mostly forgotten when they leave. Such is the nature of the working world; every day is a new beginning, and what went before is largely irrelevant.
And, really, that is a reflection of our civilization, isn’t it. Think of the billlions who have come and gone — only a handful of them are remembered.
So, what’s the moral of the story? Well, work hard and do a good job for your employer, but don’t give any more hours than you are paid for, because those extra hours should be spent with your true loved ones, your real family, the ones who will be there for you when it comes time to part with your employer and your fair-weather colleagues.