Someone in your corner

 Lisa Scott (right) and her work-sister-wife Sonia. Photo: supplied
Lisa Scott (right) and her work-sister-wife Sonia. Photo: supplied
You spend a third of your life at work. Unless there’s a pandemic, in which case, like me, you might be not long back into the office and still getting used to people.

Don’t be telling me how weird everyone is. You got weird. Are you wearing pants? Good, drink your coffee and don’t say those things in your brain out loud.

Thursday was my last day at Waitaki District Council. I won’t miss the photocopier, that thing always hated me, and the information services team won’t miss coming up to help every time I get locked out of my computer. I have no idea why, either. All my passwords are the same. My address is the only thing I can remember.

After you resign from your employment, you still have to be there for four weeks (unless security makes you fill a box with a plant, coffee mug, pens and a stapler and marches you out of the building), so there’s this strange transition period where you get to hear them talk about the qualities required of "the new Lisa" ... which is a bit like breaking up with someone and still sharing a bedroom while your ex auditions new chicks and you write a manual explaining how to do you.

I’ll miss my Waitaki crew. People in Waitaki are lovely. A little reserved, they wait to see you’re not a complete spanner before they open up. My real estate agent brings the washing in off the line during open homes, folds it and stacks it up on the kitchen benchtop, a very Waitaki thing to do. I’ll miss how the weather is always a little nicer in Oamaru. Maybe the local stone makes it warmer and brighter?

I’ll miss the way the setting sun gilds the leaves of the Memorial Oaks lining Severn St. I’ll miss the stinky wee penguins roaming the Victorian precinct, shrieking at dusk. I won’t miss being in charge of social media.

Most of all, though, I’m going to miss Sonia. My work sister wife. Batman to my Robin, elf to my Christmas tree, good cop to my bad, the smartest person in the room, no matter the room.

Like a tiny grumbling cat, I’ll miss her vocal fry, her boots/ tights/wool skirt and tweed jacket combos. I’ll miss how she makes corduroy look cool; her withering sarcasm, her quick wit. I’ll miss her creativity and the fact that any time we both thought a Facebook post was hilarious, it was guaranteed to get us into trouble. Having a deep-seated fear of public information management, we developed a disaster telepathy to the point that I knew there had been a flood the second I saw her name come up on my phone.

When I told her I was leaving, she cursed me in imaginative, almost Shakespearean, terms and then forgave me. Sonia is kind to animals, crazy people, plants, and always errs on the side of tenderheartedness and compassion. She makes me want to be a better person. And I’ll have to be, without her to rely on.

I’m sorry we never got to achieve our dream of owning a Mexican food truck but to be fair, neither of us can actually cook Mexican food, nor do we know how to run a hospitality business. We just wanted to eat fish tacos.

A feeling of friendship and companionship in the workplace makes a big difference, especially when you have a stressful job. On days when motivation is at an all time low, it’s good to know there’s someone in your corner, or, literally in the corner next to you, sighing and muttering swear words.

Your workmates are a huge part of your life. They get an (unsolicited) window on all your highs and lows, your lady time rages and stuff ups.

You can shoot them a glance during a meeting while some old tusker is holding court at length and know exactly what they are thinking and what kind of knife they’d do it with.

Speaking of life or death, studies show in-work friendships are linked to positive health outcomes and less-kind teammates with a higher risk of dying on the job.

Sonia knows more about me than anyone, and for that I apologise. I love her the way you love someone who has had a huge and wonderful effect on your life. She knows I do not want a giant card.



'Chopper', Australian comedian, said casual New Zealanders avoid structure: "Oh yeah, I might put some pants on".

You remind us that everyone has a 'tribe'. Never to see them again is inconceivable, which is why we have the Internet.

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