Every Friday around 5pm, some of the guys in my office get a couple of beers and crowd around to kick off the weekend with a few laughs. Sort of like gathering around the water cooler, but without a literal water cooler.
I usually don't pay them much mind, and that was the case today too as I worked on an email while wearing my headphones, only vaguely noticing that the group of people gathered was somewhat larger than usual.
Until one of them, my teammate Andy, waved me over. "Joëlle, come join us!" he said.
"Is it only beer?" I asked (somewhat snootily, it must be said.)
"No, we got prosecco too!" he responded, speaking my language.
At that point, I hopped up and headed over. No sooner had I reached the group than they all burst into song:
"Happy birthday to you...."
Whaaaat? "But my birthday was last Saturday!" I protested, totally shocked. "I know, but you weren't here," Andy explained patiently. "And I thought it'd be more meaningful on a Friday. Cake?"
I was genuinely touched. He'd gotten me prosecco, chocolate cake, even a cute yoga-themed birthday card that he'd sneakily handed around for everyone to sign beforehand. I barely remembered even telling anyone at work that I had a birthday.
So it was just really, really nice. It's true I'm not very happy at work these days, but it should be said I'm lucky to be surrounded by genuinely nice people, and this was a genuinely nice and completely unexpected moment where I actually felt like they were not just colleagues but friends.
"So, if you don't mind, how old are you now?" one of the younger girls in the office asked me.
"35," I responded, and her jaw dropped.
"Really!? I thought you were only 28!"
And you know what?
That was a nice moment too.