There is a clear divide between coworkers in offices all over the country. These “cliques” or “classes” can be separated by one very obvious, life-defining difference. Your coworkers with kids are different from you. You know it, they know, everyone knows it.
Each group has characteristics that help to define the group and why they tend to form alliances like they are on survivor island. Those who have no children (which moving forward shall be referred to as the “free”) can be spotted in trendy clothing driving small, efficient cars on their way to lunch before they work well into the evening trying to get ahead because they don’t have anything else going on. These free ones seem to float around the office on Thursdays looking for people to have drinks with until the bars close, then come in the following day with red eyes and pounding heads.
This is a complete 180 from the other half who have kids (which moving forward shall be referred to as the “chained” ones). The chained ones can be spotted in coffee stained ties smelling vaguely of vomit, driving large SUVs with tiny stick figure families on the back window, speeding to soccer camp terrified they are going to lose their job because they can’t work weekends. They desperately search the office for a potential babysitter so they can catch an early movie, then come in the following day with red eyes and a pounding head because their kid woke up with the flu at 2am.
For each group it is uncomfortable, almost impossible, to even be around the other. You the “free” want to hear about their child’s birthday about as much as the “chained” want to listen to your 15 minute rant on why you won’t eat the non-organic salad dressing. You wonder why all the business looking awards in their office are next to finger paintings and why they haven’t had time to memorize all the lines from Arrested Development yet.
As different as these two tribes are, I think they secretly long to be like each other. Call it “grass is always greener syndrome” or just being “jelly”, but each yearns for the other’s life. The “free” envy the home with a backyard, stable eating schedule and toys at Christmas. The “chained” long for the days of no mortgage, dinner out with friends and a shot at retirement.
So in the end, when you are staring across the office at the group talking about the birthday party they were all at this past Saturday remember, you might be like them soon. Just hope you are cool enough that they let you in the group.