I had a friend from out of town come interview for a job at my old company once. He wasn’t my best friend or anything, but we did enjoy some good banter on a regular basis. When he came to town, I hadn’t seen him for five years. He flew in the night before his interview came to our office at 9am and it was over by lunch time. His flight back to Ohio was scheduled for 4pm that same day. Once he was done interviewing, I went down to the lobby and escorted him to the train back in to San Francisco (my office was in Oakland across the bay).
We had exactly twenty minutes with each other. It felt like a lot of pressure to catch up on five years in twenty minutes. He must have been uncomfortable with the situation as well because instead of starting with small talk, he dove right in and asked, “So what has been your favorite movie, band, and book in the last five years?”. I, of course, wasn’t expecting this line of questioning, so I never was able to answer his question. Instead we ended up talking about a few different movies, and some bands. And then my stop came, I told him it was nice seeing him, wished him luck, and exited the train. I’ve received a couple of emails from him since, but that’s about it.
What I’m wondering, on this bleary-eyed 7:07am Saturday morning (this may be my earliest post yet), is whether it’s worth it to see someone for only twenty minutes? If you know ahead of time that you won’t be able to reconnect, that you’ll probably not even have time to get through the pleasantries in order to move on to the meaty stuff, is it worth it? That day I exited the train I didn’t feel glad that I had seen him I felt sorry for our loss. Granted we haven’t made much of an effort to stay connected, and maybe if we had things might have been different that day, but I don’t think so.
I’ve had this scenario happen to me several times over the course of my life, and it always leaves me wishing that I had never seen the person. Maybe next time the opportunity comes up, I’ll just say, “Thanks but no thanks” and see how that feels. Maybe I won’t feel so remorseful, or maybe I’ll feel worse because I didn’t see them at all?