There was a time when the American dream summer vacation was to load everyone into the family truckster and head out to see America. A dream so pervasive an entire series of comedy movies was created about it. Today that dream is largely dead. Replaced by the ever increasing need to produce. To work. To get ahead.
Driving around the country takes time. Time that could better be spent working. Cruises are popular because they allow you to vacation. To travel from place to place. To relax. All without being very far from “home”. Your bed is a few elevator rides away. You can always get back and check that email. Finish that memo. Tighten up that protocol.
As neighborhoods ceased in America, the new neighborhood became your job. Your coworkers were the people you saw for most waking hours as you put in 10 hour days trying to get ahead. They had the same goals and dreams that you had. They were your true neighbors. The folks that live next door to you? You know them but you never spend time with them. You don’t have the time to spend. You’re just too busy.
Neighborhood parties and barbecues continue but now it is that Office neighborhood that coordinates them. That calls the people together and tells them what part they play in this dance. Cook. Clean. Organize. Schmooze. Gossip. Flirt. Geek. Spouse.
Children run through this virtual neighborhood the same way they did the physical neighborhoods of old. Folks comment on how big or tall or smart they’ve grown since the last physical gathering of the neighborhood. Of course, they’ve seen them growing in the virtualness. Facebook posts, Instagrams, Tweets of their exploits and adventures go around the Office neighborhood all day and night. It never stops because it never closes.
That’s the thing about the Office neighborhood. It never stops. It follows you home. It eats dinner with you. It washes the dishes with you. And it sleeps with you. Sometimes it wakes you up in the middle of the night. It gets up in the morning with you. When it manifests itself in real life, like at a pig roast, it knows you and you know it. Everyone plays their role and the Office neighborhood plays its role.
Cooking of the meal is central to the occasion. It shows that the Office cares. Both as a company and as the people. The time they take to prepare dishes or to get supplies or to obtain an area or any of the other numerous tasks to get the Office neighborhood together in real space. Impressive.
These gatherings are needed and necessary. We need personal interaction with other people. We need it to be focused on us and not on our job or church or political party. It needs to be a nurturing of our humanness. The way we do that is the same as it has always been. Gather for a communal meal. Jointly prepared. Sharing in what we have. Together.
So, while you might think this is a simple office picnic, you’d be wrong.
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.