Ahhh.  Labor Day weekend. 

A time to reflect on the blessings of our current employment situations.  A pause in the schedule when we can offer thanks for meaningful work that utilizes our God-given talents.  And, um, a day off.

Maybe unlike others, and definitely in contrast to the ‘70s-era Johnny Paycheck country music ditty which brazenly encouraged the “shoving it” of one’s job, I choose to feel more warm and fuzzy about all of my jobs that I’ve had thus far (well, almost all of them).

And since I am female (hear me roar!), I tend to focus more on the friendships I have made at each career-stop more so than the actual work.  I know it’s wacky, crazy, out-of-this-world-ness type of thinking.  But that’s just the way I’m wired.  People first.  Job responsibilities a VERYCLOSE second.  (Somewhere, in the giant cosmos of the World Wide Web, my boss has just sighed with relief after reading that.)

So, besides the friendships, what has helped me to feel the love at each workplace on my nearly two-decade career path?  What have I learned along the way that has helped me to embrace each job and try to make the most of every opportunity?  Well, it’s not rocket science, but I have picked up on a thing or two.  And perhaps you have learned some of the same lessons as me. … 

To have friends, you have to be a friend.  We’ve all been there:  the new person in the office.  It can be an awkward time for the first couple of weeks or so.  Everyone is staring at you as you walk down the hallway, but looks away quickly when you make eye contact.  No one invites you to sit with them at the lunch table in the break room.  Or you don’t have anyone to whisper with during the weekly staff meeting.  But here’s the deal:  I have found that if you make the effort (even as the geeky new person!) and go out of your way to stick out your hand and meet others, you will generally be welcomed.  You’ll find your group of friends more quickly than you think, if you just try and say “hi.”  A friendly smile can help, too.  

Zip it.  Especially if someone tells you something in confidence.  You know how this kind of conversation starts:  “I shouldn’t be telling you this, but. …”  There have been so many times I have heard this from coworkers (even bosses!) who have told me information that I a) had no business knowing and b) did not want to know.  What did I do with this information?  I learned quickly that it’s best to file it away and not repeat it.  Ever.  Unless it is something underhanded (going the way of law-breaking or criminal) that is going on or that could severely jeopardize the company and its success or profitability.  But in most cases, it’s best to conveniently forget what you were told.  Don’t become known as the coworker who specializes in information propagation.  It will get you nowhere.  And fast.

Pranks, pranks and more pranks!  A little levity anyone?  I have loved working for companies that understood that it’s okay to laugh and pull a harmless prank every once in a while—especially if you’re a dedicated worker for the majority of the workday and have the output to show for it.  One of my favorite pranks ever pulled involved two other coworkers and literally hundreds of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys.  Let’s just say that the target who collected said toys and displayed them in his office’s bookshelf began noticing their decreasing numbers as the months of autumn went by one year.  By December, all of the toys had vanished.  Buh bye.  “Miraculously,” though, they were returned when hand-delivered by a Dominoes Pizza guy in several boxes at the company’s annual Christmas party.  It was a Christmas miracle, for sure.  “God bless us, every hundredth one!”