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My View: 'Work families' bring special joy to our lives

By Susan Gianiodis

I imagine that one of the New Year’s resolutions people make each year is to spend more time at home, and less time at work. After all, isn’t that the saying – on your deathbed you don’t ever say, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”

Nobody should miss important or milestone events because of work. Family time is precious, and it is essential for our health to keep a good work/life balance. I would argue, though, that our co-workers become our family, too.

Many of us spend more hours of the day with people at work than we do with members of our families, and lasting friendships are made. People at work understand what we do and experience in ways that others can’t. Some of my best friends are people I met through work.

When one of my co-workers died six months after his retirement, the women that loved him and were mentored by him formed a book club. We loved his wife, too, and wanted a way to keep her in our lives. That was 17 years ago. We meet once a month, every month, and discuss our current read. We share more than a love of literature. We have been together through births, deaths, weddings, divorces – all the events in a life.

Teachers in our area tend to spend most of their careers at one school or district. Many of the people I work with have been together for more than 20 years. If somebody gets sick they have a whole school community to support them.

Susan Gianiodis

We have raised money, organized meal trains, and even lined a driveway with milk jugs made into luminarias to raise the spirits of an ailing staff member during the holidays.

Co-workers go together to Sabres and Bills games, celebrate births and retirements. Most students, when asked what was their favorite thing about school, answered being able to see their friends. That is also the answer many adults give when asked that question about work.

My father, Bill Janeczko, talked a lot about the importance of being dedicated to your work. He was a Buffalo police officer at Precinct 8, which was located on Broadway and Fillmore. He was a patrolman, and before he retired he worked at the Broadway Market. He loved his job, and the interactions he had with the people there. He talked about the workers, and the people who were regulars.

He, like so many others, had Jimmy Griffin stories. He became friendly with the mayor and he would have coffee breaks, and the occasional beer, with him. He would get to know the family histories of the workers and shop owners. He would joke around with people, listen to their troubles, and offer advice, help and sometimes money from his own pocket.

He also had many friends on the force. These people became an important part of his daily life. The bond he had with the other officers, the bonds they all shared, ran deep. He moved to Florida after retirement, but when he died we had another service in Buffalo. I was shocked at the number of police officers that attended his memorial service. Even though he had been retired for years before his death, these officers made the time to pay their respects.

Work, and those you work with, can give your life meaning, which is essential to happiness. As Confucius said, “Choose a job you love,and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Susan Gianiodis, of Orchard Park, works as a teacher in Eden.

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