Tonight my boss at Giant Ass Bank is having a team outing after work. The team is going out for drinks and a baseball game. I won’t be able to make it. Hollywood has her last softball game this afternoon and a team party/banquet at the swimming pool tonight. I wouldn’t miss Hollywood’s last game for anything, and getting together with the girls and their parents for some food and swimming sounds like a great time to me.
So I declined my boss’ invitation and am opting for the family thing. Like I do almost every time one of these invitations is issued. I’m always the one who declines team outings. Or, if I can make one, I only stay for one drink and then head home. (I have a long drive home from downtown! And, I’m a lightweight. More than one drink, and I should NOT be driving anywhere…)
My boss is amazing and totally cool. She responded with ‘I understand’ but also ‘you could always come late, the game doesn’t start until 7’… She won’t be upset if I don’t come. But I’ll probably get a few comments from her and my co-workers. Something along the lines of “You should’ve been there, we had a blast! So-and-so got drunk and sang You Light Up My Life on the Karaoke machine at the bar!” or “You dissed us again?! Dude! You missed out on a par-tay!!”
Sometimes that bothers me, makes me feel left out and worried that I might seem standoffish. I try to rationalize that it’s not hurting me… I'm friendly with the team - I joke and feel part of the group during work. I do my job well. I get excellent performance reviews. I’m an asset to Giant Ass Bank. Quite frankly, it surprises me that I’m the only one who seems to be more focused on family than after work get togethers. I'm surprised that I'm often the only one who can't make these after work socials.
But I do wonder if it is hurting my career chances. Have I not been promoted in four years because I’m not joining the group for drinks and laughs after work? There’s a special camaraderie that occurs during these outings, inside jokes are born, stories are shared, and talk about everything under the sun happens with the restraint of sobriety thrown by the wayside. I often feel like an outsider when the team talks about these gatherings. I don’t feel like I’m as buddy-buddy with our boss as the rest of them. Could that be hurting my chances at moving up the corporate ladder?
I guess for the moment, I don’t care if it is. I am very comfortable with my job and am not sure I'd want a promotion if it were offered to me. I know my stuff, have great flexibility and a good team to work with, and am happy. I might not be as challenged as I could be, but there’ll be time for that later. My kids are growing up and will be gone before I know it, but work will be around for a long, long time. Hollywood will move out of our home in four years. I’m not choosing co-workers over time spent with her, The Boy, and Bumblebee.
Tomorrow, I’ll hear this: “Monnik – you missed it! Toronto Co-Worker ate seventeen hot dogs at the game and didn’t even puke until the fifth inning!”
I’ll smile and say “Wow – sorry I missed it! Sounds like fun.”
But I won’t really be sorry. Because I will have spent the evening with my family and neighbors celebrating the end of a very successful (if not chaotic) softball season. And besides... look at these kids. How could I choose co-workers over them?
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