One of my colleagues is very serious. Well, she's serious most of the time. She's pretty young (23) and she's ambitious. Nothing wrong with that, of course... but she's not yet experienced enough to know when it's okay to relax and to let some things go; to learn that you don't always need to have your game face on all of the time, and that sometimes you can have fun without it affecting your work. Sometimes she lets her game face slip, and she has a lovely tendency to say something daft and then realise what she's said by blushing bright red and letting a guileless smile slip through her defences. I like those moments. She twenty-three years old, dammit! If you can't enjoy yourself when you're twenty-three then when can you? Honestly.
We had a big meeting in the diary for Friday morning; a meeting where the wider team on our project was going to get together and thrash through some issues to make sure we were all aligned, ship-shape and bristol fashion and ready to push on with the delivery phase of the project. My twenty-three year old colleague was in charge, and she spent most of the week chasing around after people, telling them how critical it was that they attend, and making dire threats of the consequences of non-attendance.
The meeting started at 9am. She wasn't there. We rang: no answer. Fine, she was probably running late. For all her seriousness, this girl has an unfortunate habit of oversleeping. She's clearly not a morning person, and I'm now in the habit of making a pot of fresh coffee shortly before she normally arrives and giving her a cup as soon as she arrives. I used to ask her if she wanted one, but always hot my head bitten off, so now I just give her a cup before she has a chance to talk. It's just simpler. I had a meeting with her first thing the other day. When she breezed in, ten minutes late, she took her coat off, stood by her desk looking at me, and said: "Are we having this meeting?" You have to laugh. She's lovely, she really is, but you have to laugh.
Anyway. She's late for her own meeting and she's not answering her phone. Perhaps she's driving? By 10:30, we were starting to worry: she still wasn't answering her phone, and you can't help but wonder if something has happened. By 11:00, we were talking about going to see if she was alright. I popped over to her "secret" boyfriend. He sits just near our desks, and as they've only been going out for a few months and because she's a serious businesswoman, she likes to pretend that they don't know each other. Whatever. I introduced myself and asked him for her address. We then drove over to her house to make sure she wasn't dead. Her car was there, so at least she hadn't died on the road. We knocked on her door. And knocked again.
....and she opened it, wearing her pyjamas and looking a little confused.
"What are you doing here?"
"No. The question is, what are YOU doing here?"
"What do you mean? It's Saturday"
"No it isn't. It's Friday."
"Oh. Why didn't you try ringing?" [checks phone] "twenty-three missed calls? Oh. Do you want to come in?"
"No. We want you to come to work"
About twenty minutes later, she wandered into the office. She tried half-heartedly to style it out, but let's face it, if we hadn't woken her up, she'd probably still be asleep now. She was roundly mocked, of course, but I took one look at her and decided to leave her alone. She's ambitious and she's just slept in through an important meeting and lost an entire morning at work: no one can punish her more than she is likely punishing herself. I've probably made her sound awful, but actually she's lovely, especially when she lets her guard drop. I don't think she quite knows what to make of me, but I'm quite fond of her. She'll doubtless go much further in her career than I ever have in mine (she's already arranged a meeting with C through me, so she knows how to network, bless her), and I wish her luck and happiness along the way.
Just a thought though: she might want to look at investing in a better alarm clock. Or as her "secret" boyfriend cycles to work and arrives in the office just after me at around 8am, perhaps spending more time with him will see her getting up earlier when he boots her out as he leaves for work?
It's people like this that make work interesting. Definitely more interesting than the work, anyway.