Marc Collins

Drinking with Co-Workers: An Irish Tradition

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St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. Given the rich tradition of the Irish experience, we know the kind of respectful, culturally-important celebrations embracing history that we can expect.

These gentlemen are part of the Irish Heritage and Historical Society

These gentlemen are part of the Irish Heritage and Historical Society

But all of that aside, it really can be a fun holiday. We all work pretty hard at our jobs, and that means that at least five days a week we’re stressed out about work and we’re often stressed out about the people we work with. Clients, colleagues, vendors, partners, prospects…these people have the ability to raise our blood pressure and that means we need to find time around the edges to blow off steam – usually with friends, and often with beer. St. Patty’s Day is a great opportunity.

Personally, as a distant descendant of the Emerald Isle (Collins is an Irish name, you know – look it up) I can always get behind a little bit of pinching and ginger-bearded mischief every March 17th. But the main thing I look forward to is driving down to the West Palm Beach area for the massive St. Patty’s Day party that a client and very good friend of ours throws every year.

Now, in the interest of protecting the identity of the countless (and otherwise innocent) souls who will be eating, drinking, and beer-ponging their faces off this weekend in South Florida, I won’t identify the specific client to whom I’m referring. But I’ll give you a hint – it’s these guys:

Note to the observant: the name "Cooper" is also Irish

Note to the observant: the name “Cooper” is also Irish

I first worked with this crew back in 2001 and the more we worked together the more we all liked each other. From the first time I went down for one of these parties maybe ten years ago, they all made me feel very welcome. I was a vendor, they were clients…but here we all were consuming excessive amounts of food and adult beverages together, playing college-style drinking games, and throwing each other in the pool. Is this the way business relationships are supposed to look?

I was told they were supposed to look like this

I was told they were supposed to look like this

That got me to thinking…why do I have such a separation in my mind between the people I know through work and the people I know outside of work? Why do we act so differently from Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 5:30? Why do we transform our personalities when we get to work and then struggle all day to maintain the facade in order to do business with other people who are probably doing the exact same thing? And why on earth do we define ourselves by our jobs even though we don’t usually act like our real, actual, genuine, personal selves until we clock out?

With all that in mind, I had to re-evaluate the standard model, so to speak, for interaction.

Sure, we may need to temper our language a bit at work, not wear cut-off jean shorts at the office, and keep our eyes on the goals of the people who sign our checks, but does that really mean that we need to have a split personality? That great social engineer, what was his name…Marx? Marx…Mark? Ah, yes. Mark Zuckerberg has a dream that Facebook will ultimately inspire people to drop the separation between their work profiles and their personal profiles and just be who they are. And if we ALL did it, just imagine how much stress would simply evaporate.

So I’m going to drive a few hours south on Saturday, eat an unholy amount of Tom Dudley’s amazing BBQ, clink pint glasses with dozens of great people…PEOPLE, and play flip cup until the kegs are light enough to return. And as I drift off to sleep on one of many hospitably-offered couches in the house, I’ll be dreaming of a day when the wall comes down and we all connect with each other as ourselves, no matter what we’re doing.

Can you picture a world where you don’t have to wear a mask to work? Now that’s something worth raising a glass to.

Happy (early) St. Patrick's Day, friends! Relax, have fun, and be safe.

Happy (early) St. Patrick’s Day, friends! Relax, have fun, and be safe.


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