It’s the 4 a.m. friends who are truly worth your time
Updated: February 22, 2012 2:39PM
It is never when you’re accepting some global award to thunderous applause that you find your true friends.
It’s when you’re weak and vulnerable, when you want to retreat to a cave and lick your wounds.
Years ago, I worked for a corporation in a communications capacity. I had many friends. One was a secretary who was older than me, very quiet and helpful. People took her sweet nature for granted. She was more comfortable out of the limelight. I adored her.
Closer to my age was another friend, a middle manager for another department. We’d lunch together and share our aspirations. She was considered a rising star and so was I.
After the birth of my first son, I drove to the office to show him off. Co-workers gathered around, cooing and fussing around his blue blanket.
That day was frigid, Chicago-bone-cold. My secretary friend followed me to the parking lot, hoisting the diaper bag. Without hesitation, she trotted to my car and started it, uncaring that her own hands were uncovered, and that she didn’t wear a coat. I hugged her good-bye and left with my baby.
A year or so later, rumors swirled. Layoffs would happen. My job was on the chopping block.
My new boss had piercing dark eyes. With detached efficiency,
he fired me. He stared, unblinking, as if anticipating a teary breakdown. I managed to hold it
together. Numb, I gathered my things into a cardboard box.
People didn’t make eye contact. I had somehow become a leper.
My manager friend did not come to say good-bye. Someone went looking for her. She was nowhere to be found.
I heard my name and looked up. Standing at the door was my secretary friend, offering to help carry down my stuff. She patted my hand, told me she was proud. I handled the termination with dignity.
I can assure you that I don’t always handle things with dignity. Just ask my husband.
But she and my other true-blue friends, they’re the real gold of life.
Marlene Dietrich, the legendary actress, famously said: “It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.”