Friday, May 26, 2006

Yesterday's bagels

It used to be one of life’s simple pleasures, coffee and a bagel. I still make the trip to one of the local bakeries or chain bagel-joints for breakfast, but the important part is missing.
For years, I brought a baker’s dozen with cream cheese to match for the office on Friday mornings. It started out as a once-in-a-while thing, a semi-southern boy’s way of saying “howdy” with food, and somewhere along the way turned into a weekly ritual. People waited at the window. When I was late, sometimes a crowd would have gathered. Then, the hungry would help me unpack the bag, put everything out, and we’d dig-in.
Friends talked with me and with each other about work, music, and the weekend. Bargains were struck about who would get the last blueberry bagel. Sheepish interns subsisting on a student’s budget would emerge from sequestration in their dungeon to ask, “Are these just for anybody?” There were people from other parts of the office who I knew only from conversations about books over breakfast. Then, on to tasks at hand.
It was hard to leave that job. The work was constantly challenging and interesting, sure, but it was all of the people who I did and didn’t work with that made it meaningful. Of course I’ve mused now and again about going back, but in the few months since I left a lot of other people have gone, too.
The job was like that favorite food, I suppose. I’ve realized that as much as I liked it, it was mostly about the company.

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