Last year, I watched a friend quit. I never saw the actual moment of quitting–it happened while I was gone. But quitting is more of a process than an event. Like coming out, or breaking up, or emptying a jar of jam. It was difficult to watch my friend slowly detach herself from my organization because I was not sure what my role was. Cheerleader to keep her in? Comforter to help her get out? Neutral sounding board? Professional conduct does not cover that niggling feeling of betrayal when a friend abdicates her responsibilities. There is the urge to protect, to guard her legacy. But there is also a small hurt feeling: if our work meant so little, why I am covering?
This friend was kind when she did not have to be, and helped me find my feet in a new situation. I wish that I had had a chance to say goodbye before she left. Mixing friends and colleagues begs this kind of trouble. She may have quit for economic reasons, or because the job was no longer fun, or because she had trouble at home. All of these are valid reasons, but she never told me why, so I cannot guess. It is not comfortable watching a friend quit.
Thomas Fuller – “Every horse thinks its own pack heaviest.”