Translated they're saying, "Wow. You still work here?!?!"
I do like I do to deflect any attention on myself by making a joke about something or other, but I get the feeling they are genuinely somewhat excited to see me back.
There's also the contingent of co-workers who did not know my name, but recognized me as the tall white guy, who probably thought to themselves or said to their cubical neighbor, "Hey... It's.... that guy!!" They'd respond with a "What guy?" "You know, that tall guy who just disappeared one day." "Oh you mean Andy?!?" "Yeah I think that's his name. Well he's back." "Hey everybody.. Did you hear that guy Andy is back.. You know that tall one who just disappeared??"
Being gone for a year and a half, I also notice a bunch of n00bs working here now. Even before that, there were n00bs coming in I had no contact with. So now the place is filled with n00bs. n00bs who I don't know. n00bs who will think my name is probably Andy and I am a n00b too and think they're cooler than me.
Which they aren't.
But back to those who did know me (and maybe had a feeling I was still employed working from home), every single one of them ask the same thing.
"How are the kids/children/babies?"
I tell them the stock answers such as, "Doing good", "Getting big", "Probably driving Mom crazy right this very second.", and "if you subscribed to my blog you'd already know."
I let them tell me about what's going on with them, but I'm waiting for an in to tell them more about my kids.
I know I've known this for almost six years now, but it came to me again this week.
I am defined as being a father.
Family, friends, co-workers, they may not come to me to talk about business deals. They may not come to me asking for a place to go on vacation. They also know better than to come to me to talk about sports that aren't related to pro-wrestling. No one even talks to us about going out to have a drink (even when it's obvious being responsible for six kids should be a dead giveaway that we NEED a drink or seven).
I'm cool with this.
Nothing gives me more joy than talking about my family. From MaddSkillz prepping to become a Senior in High School, to Ladybug's T-Ball team getting fourth place in the city. From Disco's slowly but surely transition to going potty without us reminding him, to Celi being an eloquent speaker for a 2 and a half year old. And with The Emsters over abundance of joy and excitement in everything.
And it's not just the shiny happy things, it's the stressful things too. It's the frustration my teenager gives us when talking about college and he just "not getting it." It's the fits my daughter can throw when she's tired or when my son doesn't tell us he had an accident. The assaults on the other kids from Celi when she's jealous. And the Emsters getting into everything she can reach, then when she can't reach it, she climbs.
This is what defines me. This is what the people that know me know as well.
So even if life is crazy right now on account of me heading back to the office. Even though I'm not excited to be here, I'm glad I can be somewhere I can talk about my family all day even though I can't see them all day like I used to.
What is it that defines you?
Have a great weekend my friends.