(Graphic stolen from these guys)
Work friendships are usually characterized by either shallowness or by unlikely intensity.
Think of five people you've worked with in the past. How close are you with any of them? Was there a time when you felt an unbreakable bond, and yet now you have little to say to each other?
Work friendships tend to form because of adversity. Mind-numbing boredom is adversity; so is a cruel or idiotic manager. Bonds forged by the flames of injustice feel as solid as iron; in time they crumble like sandstone. And sometimes you realize too late that your work friend just bores you to tears.
This sounds like a tragedy; it's not a tragedy. People I've become close to in jobs over the years have included out-of-control alcoholics, drug dealers, home-wreckers, unapologetic Internet Explorer users, and surf bums. I had nothing in common with any of them outside of the job, and yet we felt such strong bonds at the time. Illusory. Wonderful acquaintances, within the scope of time and place, but never meant to last.
The work friendships I do mourn, however, are those that were founded on sturdier principles -- world view, values, Macintosh devotion -- but were ended prematurely because the job changed. Those are the sad ones. Outside of work the circumstances cannot sustain the friendship, and yet if given common ground the friendship would endure. Differences in age, social strata, marital status, religion, upload speed, or zip code can erode what would have been a beautiful friendship in another time or place. Those losses hurt.
I write this tonight as I begin to mourn the departure of a work friend who was -- is -- a real friend. Oh, sure, it's easy to say we'll keep in touch, but differences in our individual lives outside of work make that unlikely. It's a drag, and I'll miss my friend.
I just keep reminding myself that it wasn't THAT long ago that he used a Dell.
Smell ya later, dude.