Have you ever lost touch with a former coworker or acquaintance, only to see them randomly years later? I’m sure most of us have had something like this happen, where we have run into someone after many years in a totally different context.
I recently had this happen, where I saw a former coworker after about 10 years. I never worked directly with her in the same exact department, but I worked with some of the same people she dealt with in her role, so our paths crossed often enough to at least know each other by name and have a few conversations.
Anyway, at the time she was in a role that was a good one, and not one that just anybody could get. I’m guessing it was a position that was somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 annually in terms of compensation, give or take some. Let’s say $80,000 to $120,000, just to provide a broad range. Again, that’s an estimate and it was about 10 years ago. You get the idea – it was a good job.
Fast forward to very recently. I was buying groceries recently, and I saw an open checkout line. So, I walked up, and said hello to the cashier. Lo and behold, it was that lady I worked with a decade ago.
Now, I don’t want this to sound bad (and I apologize if it comes off wrong), but this is a job that I couldn’t have imagined the woman in. Again, not that there is something wrong with her current job, but she was in a really good position in Corporate America with a salary that was likely pretty good. Beyond that, she is someone who made a favorable impression as being nice.
How does one go from a well-paying, plum job to a cashier job at a grocery store? Both are an honest day’s work, but the former would be harder to get and a preferred job between the two.
It was really odd as she asked me if I wanted my sparkling water bottles in a bag or not. I felt bad, and wondered what the situation was. But, I didn’t ask anything, being too shocked. Rather, I told her I recognized her and then re-introduced myself, and she immediately acknowledged and rattled off where and when we worked for the same company.
The experience was kind of jarring, actually. Quite an eye-opener, and it goes to show how life can change quickly for people. I felt bad for her, and then thought how close many of could be to such a situation, no matter how unfathomable it might seem at the moment. Just one or two life turns, and there you are.
Should I have asked more questions? Reached out to offer help? Of course, you don’t want to insult someone’s dignity in any way either. It ended up that there was a lady in line behind me, so I just said “nice seeing you again” or something like that as I walked out. It all happened so fast.
My Questions for You
Have you ever been really surprised when running into someone after many years?
In this case, how would you have handled something like what I experienced?