There was a party in the office on Friday and I missed it. I’m still coming into the office only once a week, on Mondays, and most office parties are held on Fridays even though that’s still a day when most people are working from home. It makes the parties small so there doesn’t seem to be much point in just to have coffee and bagels, or maybe cake and the obligatory fruit so we can pretend we’re having something healthy, with five or six other people.
It feels like a stupid thing to complain about but I miss in-person gatherings. I know some people are happier not having them and I don’t want them to feel pressured to come back—we’ve all worked out that different people have different ways of working—but I feel disconnected not seeing others and at times it just wears me down. The Friday party really emphasized this because it was a farewell party for a coworker who was leaving. She was somebody who started in 2019, but in a different department, then transferred to my department in 2021, and is now going on to a new job somewhere else. And because of the way things have been we’ve never met in person. We’ve had a handful of emails back and forth but I wouldn’t recognize her if I passed her in the hall. And maybe I did pass her in the hall. I’ve lost count of the people I see when I come in on Mondays whom I don’t recognize. If there weren’t locks on the office doors I wouldn’t even be sure they were supposed to be here.
I know there’s some debate over the usefulness of “water cooler moments” and, honestly, I can’t think of a single work-related anything that’s come out of a chance meeting in the breakroom. Most of the time the breakroom has been a place where I’ve talked to people I work with about anything other than work, which has always made my day a little better and has made it easier to go back to my desk and get stuff done, especially when I had to send an email to the person I’d been talking to an hour or so earlier. It took some of the stiff formality out of our interaction. Now I might start an email to someone because I’ve got one of those odd issues they’ve helped me with in the past only to find they’re not here anymore.
Also I don’t know if the bagels and cream cheese in the fridge are leftover from the party or if they belong to someone.