In my first “real” job, I had a difficult manager. She micromanaged my coworkers and me, she took credit for our work and she loved reminding us often that her husband was an attorney.

She said it so often that a few times, we played our own version of buzzword bingo during staff meetings.

Because I was young and still had a healthy dose of know-it-all in my system, her intensity and management style didn’t sit well with me. Once, during a meeting with our boss, we practically shouted at each other over whether or not “agreeance” is actually a word.

(It’s not. Like I said. She insisted on looking it up in the dictionary, and just proved that I was right.)

Looking back, I realize that I was part of the problem. Ugh. That’s so hard to admit. But it’s true. And while I still don’t think I’d enjoy working under her, I will tell you that she taught me a lot in the two and a half years we worked together.

One thing I learned is that for me, work is a lot more enjoyable when I can be friends with my colleagues.

After being hurt by a co-worker/friend several years ago, I went into my next job carefully. I smiled, I was polite, a good team player, but I didn’t reach out to anyone. Not for several months. But eventually my outgoing tendencies (also known as “I like to talk. A lot.”) got the best of me, and I found myself becoming close to several co-workers, some of whom I’m still close to despite us all having moved on to different companies.

The same thing happened at my current job. For the first year and a half, I was stuck at a corner desk – not to be confused with a corner office, which it was not – where I was basically told to sit down and shut up. But about seven months ago, I moved into a space with my manager and two other women.

It has made the biggest difference in my work life! I feel like a PERSON again. We brainstorm ideas, we vent about difficult situations, and we debate the best contestant on American Idol. Though my workload and job description didn’t change, a different physical location allowed me to connect with my coworkers and enjoy my days so much more.

So when I saw a video a couple weeks ago on Rachelle Gardner’s blog, I had to laugh. The video is a compilation of reality show contestants claiming that they’re not on the show to make friends.

Guess what phrase my old manager said even more often than, “Well, you know my husband is an attorney”? Yep, that’s right. She told us soooo many times, “I’m not here to make friends.”

And she didn’t.

But I’m glad I did. Besides, as Rachelle put it, “’I’m not here to make friends’ is a common attempt to justify being a total jerk.”

So true. And now that I think about it, it’s true for so many situations: work, church, blogging.

I’ve made so many good friends – most of my best friends, really – in places I never expected. In a Sunday school class with people who seemed so different than us. By blogging about the random things that run through my head on any given day. At a job that I never really wanted.

Unexpected friendships are kind of a double blessing, and I’m so thankful for mine.

Here’s the video if you haven’t seen it. (Warning: I don’t think this is necessarily rated PG. It is a montage of reality show clips, after all.)

Have you ever made a friend in an unexpected place?


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