When I first started my current job 3 years ago, one of the first events that I experienced at the workplace was a day-long retreat at a nearby recreational facility where we first heard lectures about how the company was like a family, then got to hit balls on a mini golf range. At the time, I rolled my eyes at the corny, overt "team-building" phoniness of it.
Last week, though, my boss actually made me cry with her innate kindness and true "family" feeling.
I'd worked a lot of overtime in March, saving up for my upcoming move. The Payroll department had been having problems with incompetent employees in the past months, not getting the overtime paychecks out, etc. Knowing this, I was super-careful in March to document every single overtime hour and e-mail the Payroll department upon completion of the hours. I even specifically told them, "I'm moving next month, so it's really important to me that I get this money on time."
Long story short: I should have received over $600 in an April 7 check. I did not. Payroll had fucked up yet again. I actually wept at work when I saw that I hadn't received the money when I should've. My boss went and talked to the Payroll people. When it was determined that the check wouldn't arrive until April 21 (too late to pay for my current moving expenses) because of their fuck-ups, my boss came to my office:
Boss: "What are you doing Monday?"
Me: [sniffling and baffled] "I don't know."
Boss: "On Monday, we're going across the street to my bank. I'm going to take out $600, and then you're going to take me to lunch."
After initially crying because I didn't get the check that I'd expected/needed, I then wept even more because of this incredible act of kindness by a virtual stranger, a business associate.
I contrast this to the time in 2010 when I'd been forced back to Austin, forced to live with my mother, after being unable to find steady work in NYC. I had freelance editing work while living with her, but no full-time job. Apartments that I looked at in Austin required a full-time job, or else a co-signer for the lease. My mother, who had willingly co-signed a couple of years earlier for my brother's HOUSE, refused to co-sign for a $575-per-month one-room apartment for me, instead asking me: "What are you going to do, Steph?"
I ended up wrangling with the cheap-o apartment complex to let me live there if my freelance employer provided a letter saying that their work was relatively steady, which they did.
I will never forget either the ice-cold "What are you going to do, Steph?" in my time of need, or the warm kindness of the boss ready to take out her own money to help me.