As a writer of novels, I do not have actual co-workers. There are some people I chat with from time to time (editors, proofers, beta readers, readers, other writers, etc), but it is rarely in person. Most of it is online, meaning if I don’t want to talk to someone, I can ignore them for a while.
There are some things I miss about having coworkers and the camaraderie that comes with having a similar job in the same office with the same people. Things like Happy Hours, birthday celebrations, having someone to talk to about a problem at work, having people to do my job if I take a sick day, I’m sure there are probably some more, but I don’t remember what they are… Mostly, I miss Happy Hours, something I enjoyed a great deal when I worked at two of my jobs.
Then someone I know who does have a regular job with real coworkers calls me and I think “Wow, I am so glad I did not have to get out of my pajamas today and deal with that asshat.” I do not miss having people stare over my shoulder while I am trying to work. If they do that now, I can tell them to buzz off because they are probably my mother or my live-in or the dog. I do not miss having to deal with people who fail to realize that I require personal space. My personal bubble is a little larger than a Volkswagen unless I really like you, a lot, and want to whisper shit in your ear. Nor do I miss having to deal with people who constantly tell me I need to “cheer up”… I haven’t killed you yet, so I must be fairly happy and well medicated. I also do not miss people asking me to explain why I don’t eat this or don’t drink that or why I do drink this or why I do eat that (I once had lunch with a coworker who berated me for eating a salad because it wasn’t real food that I could get nutrients out of and that was why I was always tired in the afternoon… I was certain I was tired in the afternoons because I went to lunch with people like her).
The other thing I don’t miss is the smells. I don’t have Aislinn Cain olfactory receptors, but they aren’t slouching just because I smoke (another irritant). And I don’t necessarily mean people who smell bad, I mean people who smell in general. I have scent induced migraines, coconut almond daisy jasmine hand lotion is going to give me a migraine and someone nearby is going to use it at least once a week. Or they are going to forget they have coworkers and use aftershave or perfume to hide the fact that they didn’t dry their shirt the moment it finished in the washer.
Or the false sense of intimacy provided by sharing cube walls and being forced to spend time together. I once had a coworker explain to me that her vagina had to be surgically enlarged. How do you respond to that? Now, if my best friend told me she had to have her vagina surgically enlarged, I’d have questions. But when it’s the woman on the other side of the cube wall that you aren’t even sure you sorta like enough to have lunch with… Well, there just isn’t much one can say and “I’m sorry” just doesn’t fit the situation. One of my male coworkers once asked if he should get his wife breast implants for a birthday present. Look, I just work here, I wanted to call in today, but I’m out of sick leave.