No, not that "she" people...
I'm talking about my "work-wife." But now she's taken another job, and just like that, she's gone. And I'm sad.
Well, I guess I better first unpack this "work-wife" term a bit, huh? It's a term I coined lonnng ago (well, maybe not only me, turns out there's a Wikipedia entry on it now - and memes, obviously) but it's also term I've actually not used outloud since getting *REALLY* married (and that's probably a good thing!).
For the rest of us, firstly, it's not a term or a relationship based on anything to do with attraction, or emotions, or any sense of flirtatiousness or inappropriate behavior. Nor is it a long-term commitment, either, ha ha!
In fact I've had several work-wives over the last 20 or so years. If you knew me at Cattle Baron, most recently for me the term would have applied to Marlena, obviously. Kim before her, and Jennifer before her. And it's not that I always have a work-wife either.
No, just like in real life, a good one is quite hard to come by in fact.
The relationship I'm speaking of starts with respect of the other one's character AND their proven ability on the job. I don't steal from my employers for instance, and could have absolutely no respect or meaningful relationship with someone whom I thought did.
Also, I strive for excellence and have developed a pretty good skill-set over the years. So male or female, "good servers" are the people I tend to most like and gravitate towards at work, and whom I get along with the best. In short, I can have a great relationship with almost anyone on-the-job if they're there to work, who aren't slackers or back-stabbers, who are MORE than competent, who DO MORE than is required of them (a lot of the time, anyways) and who put the immediate needs of our guests above their own short-term gain.
Those people are unfortunately kind of rare to begin with, but not totally uncommon either.
For me tho, this "work-wife" relationship evolves when your schedules regularly overlap, and - just as good teammates and professional people - you come to seriously depend on knowing the other one almost always has your back, and will take as good care of the guests in your "section" as they will of their own.
They likewise trust that you are doing the same for them. You are acutely aware of one another's needs as well, and are often helping that person do their job when they haven't even asked; it's just that one of you overheard the customer ask for something - or that you've accurately discerned what your teammate needed based on simple observation - and got to work on it because the other was busy...
You're easily handing your co-worker things just as they were beginning to look for them. In some ways, the relationship I'm talking about here is not solely based on the guests' needs, but often-times based more and more on your co-workers needs. In short, the relationship becomes - and even seems to outside observers to be - truly symbiotic.
Seriously, there were times at my last job where regulars didn't even automatically know who was actually waiting on them - Marlena or myself. They just knew that they got two servers for the price of one, and could ask anything of either of us freely, whoever was waiting on them.
One time (just for giggles) we actually traded positions - Marley took the bartender slot, while I was the "cocktail waitress". This switch went unnoticed by our manager for almost three hours, because he was just that used to seeing seeing us taking care of each others' guests and responsibilities. Funny thing was, once our "ruse" was discovered, the manager laughed and let it be. Marlena then commented "You know, I think we get away with entirely too much around here!"
This relationship goes beyond symbiosis as well tho of course.
The relationship evolves into the dynamic that if a co-worker is talking bad about one of us for nearly any reason, the other will defend them. If one has to smoke, go pee, spend five minutes solid at one singular table for any variety of crazy reason, or just take a rare but seriously urgent "personal phone call" the other so easily covers their absence that you (as a customer) wouldn't have a need that wasn't met - even if my/her own customers suffered for a minute or two.
Beyond that, the rare customer that mistreats my work-wife, has to deal with me (in all my bald-headed, broad-shouldered bouncer-if-I-need-to-be glory)...
But rather than throw a paying customer out for personal reasons, it's more likely that I'd just "switch out" and become their server, put up with their abuse all the while knowing they're not going to tip me, and it's worth it to me to keep her from having to deal with them.
It gets very personal, in that you both know a lot about each others' outside lives, and care for one another's personal well-being, but also remains above all else professional. Keeping such relationships almost solely "inside the workplace" is probably a key component as to why it's worked so well for me, in fact.
Beyond the most recent fond memories of Marlena (see my current FB pics, that's her), I think of Kim sacrificing and working my shift when I wanted to stay out of town at a conference an extra day... and also me "running off" her would-be-suitors whom I know she did not care for - and also telling her of those who dropped in that I knew she did care for - or might.
And Jennifer - who was scheduled in 15 minutes before I was - and used to order food for me every day to make sure I ate something before going on. She'd learned that some days I'd be too busy "doing my day thang" and often would not take the time to eat a good lunch before my night shift. I came to depend on her for this, and she never let me down. (We meshed so well together at work, I used to say that one us couldn't fart on the clock without the other knowing it!)
Her "real" husband would occasionally come in, and once I remember him thanking me for taking such good care of her...
"Oh yeah?" I thought.. "and all this time I looked at the situation as her taking care of me."
Hummmmm. Hrrrrmmmmm. Ya know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking, that all of the above introduction/definition of the term has been long enough.
So with all of that out of the way, I'll catch you more up on what I intended to write about here, next time.
Follow, and soon I'll introduce you to Cassie ;)
"Dilbert Gets A Work Wife" Thread and Image Source
See also official Dilbert page by creator Scott Adams
Thanks for reading Guy's Waiter Blog : Chapter 10 "She's Gone, and I'm Sad"
Read other chapters starting at TheWorkingGuy.com's Table of Contents page