I was sitting at my desk listening to a podcast Thursday afternoon when I heard some applause coming out of the large conference room. I looked around and noticed that all the cubes around me were empty. At first I thought, “Is there a staff meeting I wasn’t invited to or something?” It was conceivable since most people didn’t even know I was working here. I walked toward the room and saw that it was a birthday surprise or something. There was food and cupcakes that people had brought in. It looked like most of the office was in there except me. That was the first time I felt like “The New Guy.”
I worked at the same job for over eight and a half years. I was proud of the fact that I knew the name of every person who worked in my office. I ran NCAA March Madness pool. I met some of my best friends there and stayed friends with people as they left. I won a global “Unsung Hero” award a few years back. I’m not saying I was popular but I would definitely say I was known.
Last week, I started a new job in Los Angeles at an affiliate of my old job. At first, I felt like the new kid in school but this might be a little worse. In school, there are more opportunities to interact with other people almost forcing a relationship. Because of the nature of my job (I’m not on a team like most people), there aren’t people who I’m working with every day. People come to me when they need me and that’s the end of our exchange. Everyone’s incredibly friendly when we talk in the kitchen or pass each other in the aisles but I still feel like a stranger.
I know eventually I’ll be a part of the gang (whatever passes for a gang here) and that everyone goes through this. It’s just been awhile since I’ve come to work, sat at my desk from 9 AM – 6 PM and went home without having a single non-work related conversation that has nothing to do with the weather.