She's Gone, and I'm Sad (Guy's Waiter Blog, Ch 10)

last year

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.

I...  ummm... 

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!)


Pinterest

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
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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
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I worked around the same guy for some 15 years. We would see each other more than our spouses . . .

He would tell me a story five times over the years and I would drive me crazy. Of course I could never say a word because I knew I had told him my stories at least a dozen times ! ! !

So if he was polite enough to not remind me I had to at least be as considerate. LOL looking back over the decade or so I feel he should have gotten a medal for not knifing me in my sleep at times.

Maybe I will write to him and see if he ever had counselling or is still seeing a therapist . . .

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Haha, sounds like a "real" marital relationship, for sure!

why a spouse at work too; incomprehensible

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I see your point indeed. But it's not something you look for, it just happens sometimes!