Navigating work friends after you quit
Is it OK to tell your salary to colleagues you’re not cool with?
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s “We Need to Talk” on August 4, 2022.
She wanted to know why she didn’t get a “thank you” card. I was perplexed. I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s the story.
I’ve never been someone who overstays her welcome — not with friends, family nor employment. I have one life to live and no layaway plan on another. So if I’m consistently unhappy at any place or with any person, my deuce fingers are in the sky before my brain agrees with my heart. But I try not to burn bridges with people who I legitimately enjoy the company of, even when I walk a new path. Maybe they’re not friends friends. Maybe they’re work friends. But if I think we’re cool, I’ll always try to keep the relationship, at the very least, on a cordial note.
Still, I was shocked when one particular team member made a point of emailing me and insisting on getting my phone number after I quit a job. She contacted several people who I gave “goodbye/thank you” cards to in order to reach out to me. Curious about why she wanted to talk to me so badly, I called. She went on and on about how she thought we were cool and she always liked me, so she didn’t understand why she didn’t get a “thank you” card like several other team members. Meanwhile, she and I had never hung out in my office, never went out to lunch, never talked outside of work, never even sat together at the company holiday parties or took one photo together.
I didn’t dislike her. I was just pretty neutral about her overall. But her feelings seemed particularly hurt anyway. I apologized. This wasn’t the first time I’d had to have the “Are you mad at me?” conversation about cards.