Why you need a WBM*

*Work Best Mate.

My own WBM is on holiday for a few days, so I’ve been at least 28% more productive than usual, but also 90% less giggly.

If you don’t watch Parks and Recreation, you absolutely need to. You can probably afford to skip the first season though.

A few months ago, I felt like I was in a bit of a friendship rut. That sounds bad, but bear with me – I just mean that it felt like it had been ages since I’d made a new female friend. I have a brilliant bunch of girlfriends that I’ve known since school, teenage Saturday jobs and uni, and a brilliant bunch of male friends mostly gathered at sixth form, but once you stumble wide-eyed into the working world, it gets a lot harder to acquire new wine buddies. It also gets a lot harder to keep up with the ones you’ve got, as they tend to scatter. The best long-distance friendships are undoubtedly the ones where you can go months or maybe even years without seeing each other, sending the occasional frantic text or email, and then when you finally do meet up, you just pick up where you left off the last time you were in the same room. I like a low-maintenance friendship – there was one particular ‘incident’ about three years ago where I fell out with someone because he thought I wasn’t making enough effort to stay in touch when we were about 150 miles apart. The fact that I didn’t hear from him for weeks either seemed to escape him rather. I took a dim view of the situation, and that, after receiving some fairly scathing emails that had even my mother gasping in shock, was that.

Anyway. This is not about the mates you hardly see, this is about the mates you see every day. Work mates. Genuine work friendships aren’t as common as you’d think – think of all the colleagues you’ve had in your working life. You’ve probably liked and/or managed to get on with most of them, if you’ve been fairly lucky – but now think of the number of those you’d actually choose to hang out with in non-work contexts. It’s probably a fairly small proportion. But when you do find that person – someone who walks in and just looks like they’re going to be your sort of person, and then it turns out they absolutely are – oh, the joy. The relief! Finally, someone to talk to about gigs and books and films and what your real plans are – the plans that tick like a metronome along with everything else you hold in your head. The plans you’ll put into action once you’re away from this desk, out of this town.

Here’s why having a Work Best Mate is the bee’s knees…

1) It’s lonely being a newbie. Being the new girl in the office is dire. IT haven’t set you up properly, you don’t know all the office-specific lingo, and worst of all, you don’t know who you can moan to and who you can’t. I think I cried every Wednesday evening for about a month after starting my job, simply because Wednesdays were always the most stressful day and I didn’t know who I could vent to. As soon as you find a Work Best Mate, the clouds lift – or rather, you’ve got someone to sit under them with you.

2) It’s important to have someone who, when the boss brings out a baffling piece of jargon or a frankly bonkers idea, you can share an eyeroll and a “what the fuck? No, me neither” face with.

3) It’s also important to have someone to bitch with when things reach the point of intolerability. Under the guise of making tea and getting biscuits, WBM and I hole up in the kitchen for five minutes, vent our frustrations in hissy whispers, and then return to our desks – not necessarily feeling better, just united in rage.

4) Every Thursday Sometimes you need to go to the pub for lunch.

5) Every On the occasional Friday, you need “thank God that’s over” G&Ts.

6) You need someone to get the giggles with. I am a terrible, lifelong giggler. As a kid, one of my friend’s dads used to try and make me laugh because it amused him so much that once I started, I couldn’t stop. It runs in the family – Granny’s exactly the same, and once, the Mothership and I made the fatal mistake of catching each other’s eye while a relative was telling an incredibly dull non-anecdote. Involving recycling. I had to busy myself with “rearranging the fruit bowl” so that no-one would see my face. I suspect the shaking shoulders rather gave it away.

Inexplicably, your threshold for what you find funny plummets as soon as you’re tied to the same desk five days a week. I think it’s because you have to get your joy where you can, so whereas outside of work, you wouldn’t normally snigger at overhearing someone say something like “gosh, I’ve never seen one that big before”, at work, it’s totally normal.

7) Because making new friends is simply one of the nicest things in the world.

I know nothing about these guys, except that I love their electronic-rock-Metric-ish sound A LOT. Have another just to be sure.

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