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Relationship Investments

Today I am having lunch with a friend I’ve not seen in a while. We keep up with each other through email, social media, and other friends but it’s a rare treat for us to find the time (or make the time) to see each other face to face. She lives and works in Herndon. I live and work in Arlington.

We’ve been friends for 25 years. We met at work, as government employees, ironically through what a “GovLoop” like social network. We shared professional interests (Information Technology, Organizational Behavior, and Knowledge Management) but our friendship was sealed over shared personal interests – Star Trek, Women’s Issues, and general spirituality.

17 years ago, when my husband (now ex) had an brain aneurysm rupture and nearly kill him, she was the one person who managed to drag me away from his bedside – evidence of the strength of her willpower and the fact that she was absolutely right, I needed a bit of fresh air and sunshine. It turns out that the lunchtime outing had given me the extra strength I needed to throw the social worker out of my husband’s intensive care room. She’d been telling to accept the probability of his death. I refused. Then I stood my ground, ordered her out, and called hospital administration with the instruction that I was not to be bothered by anyone from that staff again. I wasn’t.

He did not die. 12 months later I gave birth to our daughter. While our marriage did not survive, our ability to co-parent did and we get along well to the day. And this friend was a friend through it all. Even when our careers took us out of the agency we worked in and into different companies.

When people ask me if work friends can be real friends I always say yes. I know this for a fact. I also have a great appreciation for the power of social media in helping us keep those friendships alive and well.

So if you read this, I’d love to hear the stories of YOUR enduring work-initiated friendships.

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Karen "Kari" Uhlman

I met a really lovely friend when I worked at the County of Sacramento, Human Resources Agency, Training. We found common ground when I discovered we both had daughters that played ASA (competitive traveling softball). We stay in touch via email, text, and an occasional in-person visit. Sadly, our offices are about 17 miles apart. I recently traveled to Canada and missed an opportunity to invite her to an annual birthday lunch. Upon my return, I emailed her the best photo I had from Canada and apologized for missing her birthday. She has been there to help me raise funds for a missionary trip and attending retirement parties.