When Co-Workers Quit, Are They Still Your Friends?

best-friend-quotes

best friends?

Thursdays were always a good day for me at the restaurant because of who I worked with on that shift. Brendan and I had been shift partners for over a year and a half. For a long time, he was the bartender and I was the only server and that was it. No busser, no runner and no other servers. We pooled the tips and at the end of the night, we split them down the middle. We had a routine, Brendan and I did. We knew how to work together and we liked each other. We shared stories about our lives that had nothing to do with work. We both heard about the other’s wedding and we knew about each others families. That all changed last Thursday when I got to work and saw Brendan’s name had been scratched off the schedule.

“Nooooooo!” I silently screamed. “Noooo!!!! What happened??”

Minutes later another bartender showed up and started doing sidework. I knew this bartender but hadn’t seen him in months. “Hey, I thought you didn’t work here anymore,” I said. “What happened to Brendan?”

“I dunno. I was told he doesn’t work here anymore and now I’m back. Would you get me some lemons when you go downstairs?”

I had always gotten the lemons for Brendan but Brendan never had to ask me to do it. I just did it. As I stood in the walk-in, I pulled out my cell phone and sent Brendan a Facebook message.

“Where are you? What the hell?”

He responded almost immediately. “Yeah, I was going to tell you. I quit.”

I was stunned. Brendan explained to me what went down but I won’t go into it because that is not the point of this post. Let’s just say that someone was unhappy with his performance and rather than asking him to change, they thought it would be easier to cut his shifts from four to one so he would just quit. The restaurant business can be cut-throat. The point is that Brendan no longer works with me and despite how much I like hanging out with him, will I continue to see him? How often do we all enjoy the friendship of our co-workers but we never see them without their aprons on? All too often. If I want to continue my friendship with Brendan, I no longer can depend on a work schedule to maintain it. I will have to actually make plans and then follow through on them.

It’s odd when someone leaves a job. False promises are made.

“Let’s hang out real soon. Let’s do brunch or go out for cocktails.”

“Oh, totally. I’ll call you next week. Just because we don’t work together anymore doesn’t mean we won’t see each other, right?”

A week passes by and neither of you have reached out to the other. Weeks turn into months and the only interaction that has happened is when one of you “liked” a Facebook status and then the other person wrote”LOL.”

Brendan has been gone for less than a week, but the job doesn’t feel the same anymore. How am I supposed to take a picture of my shitty ass shift meal without him sitting across the table from me to let me know when it shows up on his Facebook feed? Who will appreciate my epic eye rolls when a certain customer plops down at the bar and starts talking about, basically, nothing. Who will crack funny jokes that I will steal as my own for this blog and my Twitter feed?

I will do my best to hang out with Brendan and his wife soon. The next time I see an Event from them, I will make more of an effort to go. But I wonder if Brendan will simply become another person on the long list of “really cool people I used to work with.” Could he go the way of Lauren and Bill  who always made me laugh but I have not seen since I left VYNL four years ago? Or Mike from my catering days? Or maybe Jennifer Z. all the way back from my  sentence at Houlihan’s in Times Square? I hope not.

We call the people we meet at work our friends but it’s not until you start seeing them outside of the restaurant that “friend” is the right word. Until then, we are simply co-workers, right? We have to try really hard to make that transition from co-worker to friend and it’s not easy. It is possible though. I met my friend Jane at that same Houlihan’s over 15 years ago and we still see each other. In fact, I hope she is coming to our place for dinner next week. Restaurant friendships can turn into actual friendships, they just take some cultivating. Who knows what will happen to me and Brendan. Hopefully I will see him soon at  a bar and we can drink together without calling it a “tasting.” If not, at least we will always have our time together at that crappy job that we both kept for too long because it was so close to our apartments.

The Bitchy Waiter on Facebook.

The Bitchy Waiter on Twitter.

15 thoughts on “When Co-Workers Quit, Are They Still Your Friends?

  1. Tina

    I read all your comments and feel the same way…. I worked with my co-workers for 4 going on 5 years. (we were all school aides in an elementary school) I thought we were somewhat close, after 4 years you would think, we have had a lot of laughs, cries, shared family stories, etc..) I had left the job for a better opportunity in Oct. I had left on good terms, like I said we were friendly and they even had a good bye breakfast and wished me well on my new job. When I left I thought they would keep in touch, we texted a few times but that was it. I was the one who initiated the texts. Before I left, I had recommended a temp. person for the job. (she is someone who we were all friendly with, and we were all very happy that she got the job) when I left we texted here and there, but that’s it. Even the temp girl who I got the job stopped texting me. She had sent a group text to all of before xmas asking for all our address’s, I assumed so she could mail us all xmas cards, since she is new and did not have them (before that, my co-workers used to send each other xmas cards every year) So everyone replied & gave their address on the group text. I had sent them all xmas cards, and this year, only one coworker mailed me back one. (the one who I wasn’t very close with) I have to be honest, I was very hurt. Even the girl who i got the job didn’t mail me one. (and she was the one who asked for everyone’s address, & it’s funny, right before xmas she asked me to forward over that text again because she lost it, so I was happy to resend it. I know not everyone mails cards, but I thought at least she would have sent me a card being i got her the job. She never sent one. I did text them to wish them all Merry Xmas, and they did respond back, but I feel like if i didn’t do that they would not have wished me a happy holiday… It is now March, 6 months since i have left and I have not heard from anyone . I am kind of sad that no one has reached out and I am wondering if I should, but then I feel like why is it always me, and if they really cared they would reach out to me. I feel like they like the new girl better then me and to be honest, when I had left, I had planned on one day taking off work & going back to visit to see them, and the kids at school, but I feel since we have not kept in touch it will be awkward & if I go, they really won’t even care. I feel so hurt & bitter that if they did ever each out, I might say something not nice & sarcastic because I am so hurt like “Wow, I’m so surprised to hear from you and I thought you forgot about me, or It’s been so long, I never thought I would hear from you again. I just feel like if they cared they would reach out to me, so I feel like since they have not, they couldn’t care less. ( i am not looking to go back to work there again, it’s not that, I just miss them & thought we would keep in touch) Perhaps maybe my thoughts about the friendship was more then what it really was. (I hate that I feel so hurt about this, but I do!!) What do you think i should do, reach out or move on?

    Reply
  2. Tina

    I read all your comments and feel the same way…. I worked with my co-workers for 4 going on 5 years. (we were all school aides in an elementary school) I thought we were somewhat close, after 4 years you would think, we have had a lot of laughs, cries, shared family stories, etc..) I had left the job for a better opportunity in Oct. I had left on good terms, like I said we were friendly and they even had a good bye breakfast and wished me well on my new job. When I left I thought they would keep in touch, we texted a few times but that was it. I was the one who initiated the texts. Before I left, I had recommended a temp. person for the job. (she is someone who we were all friendly with, and we were all very happy that she got the job) when I left we texted here and there, but that’s it. Even the temp girl who I got the job stopped texting me. She had sent a group text to all of before xmas asking for all our address’s, I assumed so she could mail us all xmas cards, since she is new and did not have them (before that, my co-workers used to send each other xmas cards every year) So everyone replied & gave their address on the group text. I had sent them all xmas cards, and this year, only one coworker mailed me back one. (the one who I wasn’t very close with) I have to be honest, I was very hurt. Even the girl who i got the job didn’t mail me one. (and she was the one who asked for everyone’s address, & it’s funny, right before xmas she asked me to forward over that text again because she lost it, so I was happy to resend it. I know not everyone mails cards, but I thought at least she would have sent me a card being i got her the job. She never sent one. I did text them to wish them all Merry Xmas, and they did respond back, but I feel like if i didn’t do that they would not have wished me a happy holiday… It is now March, 6 months since i have left and I have not heard from anyone . I am kind of sad that no one has reached out and I am wondering if I should, but then I feel like why is it always me, and if they really cared they would reach out to me. I feel like they like the new girl better then me and to be honest, when I had left, I had planned on one day taking off work & going back to visit to see them, and the kids at school, but I feel since we have not kept in touch it will be awkward & if I go, they really won’t even care. I feel so hurt & bitter that if they did ever each out, I might say something not nice & sarcastic because I am so hurt like “Wow, I’m so surprised to hear from you and I thought you forgot about me, or It’s been so long, I never thought I would hear from you again. I just feel like if they cared they would reach out to me, so I feel like since they have not, they couldn’t care less. ( i am not looking to go back to work there again, it’s not that, I just miss them & thought we would keep in touch) Perhaps maybe my thoughts about the friendship was more then what it really was. (I hate that I feel so hurt about this, but I do!!) do I just move on? So, my question is, if you leave a job, should you be the one to reach out back to your old co-workers or should they reach out to you since you left?

    Reply
  3. Tina

    I read all your comments and feel the same way…. I worked with my co-workers for 4 going on 5 years. (we were all school aides in an elementary school) I thought we were somewhat close, after 4 years you would think, we have had a lot of laughs, cries, shared family stories, etc..) I had left the job for a better opportunity in Oct. I had left on good terms, like I said we were friendly and they even had a good bye breakfast and wished me well on my new job. When I left I thought they would keep in touch, we texted a few times but that was it. I was the one who initiated the texts. Before I left, I had recommended a temp. person for the job. (she is someone who we were all friendly with, and we were all very happy that she got the job) when I left we texted here and there, but that’s it. Even the temp girl who I got the job stopped texting me. She had sent a group text to all of before xmas asking for all our address’s, I assumed so she could mail us all xmas cards, since she is new and did not have them (before that, my co-workers used to send each other xmas cards every year) So everyone replied & gave their address on the group text. I had sent them all xmas cards, and this year, only one coworker mailed me back one. (the one who I wasn’t very close with) I have to be honest, I was very hurt. Even the girl who i got the job didn’t mail me one. (and she was the one who asked for everyone’s address, & it’s funny, right before xmas she asked me to forward over that text again because she lost it, so I was happy to resend it. I know not everyone mails cards, but I thought at least she would have sent me a card being i got her the job. She never sent one. I did text them to wish them all Merry Xmas, and they did respond back, but I feel like if i didn’t do that they would not have wished me a happy holiday… It is now March, 6 months since i have left and I have not heard from anyone . I am kind of sad that no one has reached out and I am wondering if I should, but then I feel like why is it always me, and if they really cared they would reach out to me. I feel like they like the new girl better then me and to be honest, when I had left, I had planned on one day taking off work & going back to visit to see them, and the kids at school, but I feel since we have not kept in touch it will be awkward & if I go, they really won’t even care. I feel so hurt & bitter that if they did ever each out, I might say something not nice & sarcastic because I am so hurt like “Wow, I’m so surprised to hear from you and I thought you forgot about me, or It’s been so long, I never thought I would hear from you again. I just feel like if they cared they would reach out to me, so I feel like since they have not, they couldn’t care less. ( i am not looking to go back to work there again, it’s not that, I just miss them & thought we would keep in touch) Perhaps maybe my thoughts about the friendship was more then what it really was. (I hate that I feel so hurt about this, but I do!!) What do you think I should do, reach out to them or just move on? So, my question is, if you leave a job, should you be the one to reach out back to your old co-workers or should they reach out to you since you left?

    Reply
  4. lori j

    I have recently learnt that a work friend who i thought we would remain friends once they left, but have found out its not so, i feel really hurt and shocked, they dont answer my texts, and it had been all looking positive, as in we both agreed we would meet up.
    i guess it is the case that we have work ‘wives’ or ‘husbands’ but once you leave they forget about you…
    out of sight and out of mind

    Reply
  5. pandy

    yea, i have a co-worker that quit just today…..he was the only one i felt really open enough to talk to and joke around with but the managers didnt like him and cut a lot of his hours. He got another job and im happy for him but i dont see a friendship forming at this point even though i would like to. then theres the age difference….several years….and it makes me feel like an oldie (im 28 lol). him and his gf (who also quit today) remind me a lot of a couple friends i have that started dating in the dorms in college which is probably why i relate to him/them so much. maybe i will invite them for a lunch….after i come back from my work trip. we’ll see how i feel about it in a month.

    feelings, eh? why are they so complicated?

    Reply
  6. Joey B

    My experience (& someone told me that to ) is that’s once u quit or get fired -u get erased & treated like a nonentity . I had helped ppl when I was in position of power – a lotta help … They spent every holiday at my house eating at my table -and I’m a great cook and make mean cocktail … Now they see me on the street or on the bus & pretend they don’t recognize me .I do recognize them well & always call them on their assholeness . I do have 3 friends that go waaaaaay back to Denny’s days – & we keep in touch & use each other as a reference . It’s weird . Mayby all we had in common w/ the others was the sidework & yammering about the prick boss ? I dunno .But I’m always glad to keep in touch . I don’t have any family here , so it gets lonely . Mayby I get too attached to my co-workers ? Mayby I take my job too personally , but how can I not ? I spend majority of my waking hours w/ these ppl .I care about the quality of my day . I like to be happy . I make ppl laugh (a lot ) .Now I’m more cautious of ppl .When they say :” Oh u r such a good friend !” I’m thinking : ” Uh -oh -tomorrow u won’t remember me ” Yes , Monica & Adrian -I’m talking about u .

    Reply
  7. ExCakeDecorator

    I’m one of those emotional types who has always made the mistake of confusing a working relationship with true friendship.

    Up until 2 months ago I had been working at Walmart in the bakery, a small department. A lot of laughs and shared personal stories as you described, Bitchy. I was there roughly two years and became friendly with several people, one of which is still a Fb friend. But you’re right, the friendship has become little more then liking statuses and lolz.

    The thing is I really like this friend and I know she really likes me but that place works it’s people so hard, there’s little time to get together left and I fully understand that.

    But what REALLY hurts is when NO ONE even TRIES to contact you to even ask what happened or how your doing (I quit suddenly after Walmart fired my mother for ONE customer complaint in THREE years, stresses in that place had been building and that was the final straw).

    The person I am friends with on FB says no one even ASKS about me when I ask if anyone misses me, WHICH really hurts because I Thought people really liked me. I’m an original sort, much like you lol, and would make people laugh. I thought I was the life of the party there and wouldn’t be forgotten so easily. This was two months ago and honestly, it still stings.

    Reply
  8. sally

    People have different personalities at work. At work I am friendly, helpful, hardworking, well groomed. I’m the one who comes in early to MAKE SURE the sidework is done. Outside of work I’m kind of lazy. I don’t like to do more than I have to and I sure as hell am not friendly to people I don’t like.
    I think co-workers sometimes mistake a good work ethic for friendship.

    Reply
  9. mo

    I had a co worker/friend that got fired about a month ago. We still hang out and do fun things. I hope we remain friends!!

    Reply
  10. Chris

    I learned eons ago – you have co-workers, you have acquaintances, and you have friends. Very few co-workers ever make it to the friends level. I had several for years but even they have drifted away – makes me sad.

    Reply
  11. Fitz

    I understand, the last job I had when I had regular co-workers, the day I got fired (for the manager’s lies) they called me over to drown my unemployment sorrow in tequila. I still talk to exactly one of them on a regular basis. I miss my girls.

    My current job, I’m trying to leave or go to only weekends since I’m in a poor tipping area. I like my co-workers but they’re sooo painfully young (says the ancient 23 year old) and I will probably never see them again once I leave. It makes me sad sometimes.

    Reply
  12. Amy Abrams

    Great article. I was the one who left the job and have tried to reach out to some of the people I worked with. However, it seems now that I longer work there, they just don’t seem to want to see me. I have 1 “friend” that used to come to my house every week to pick fruit in my backyard (grapefruit, lemons, oranges) I called and told her she was more than welcome to still come by and she never has. It’s sort of sad.

    Reply
  13. Geoff Burkman

    Life goes on. The wheel turns. If you were genuine friends, you will stay in touch and make the efforts necessary to get together. If you weren’t, you won’t. Ultimately, it’s all about priorities and mutual interests.

    Reply
  14. Chelsea

    Well said, bitchy. I have many friends I have absorbed over the years in the industry, but you are correct, it does take some effort to forge a friendship outside of the restaurant.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *