As I stand in line waiting on yet another Black Friday, I am reminded why I keep going back. Sure there are some great deals and you can save a few bucks, the real reason I go Black Friday shopping is the camaraderie, with both my family and the other shoppers.
For quite a few years, a couple of cousins and friends of mine made it a ritual to camp out in front of a certain electronics store. We would arrive after Thanksgiving dinner was over, set up our tent and spend the night, passing the time telling stories, playing games and getting to know each other a little better.
The other piece of the Black Friday adventure is the interesting people that you can meet while trying to snag your fifth $4 toaster – you can never have too many toasters. In the olden days (about three or four years ago), when big box retailers started opening their doors earlier and earlier, customers would have to stand for hours on end until the feeding bell rang and towels and sheets started flying off the shelves.
The problem came in when you needed more items than people in your party and that’s where the friendships and alliances started to form. In getting to know the strangers standing next to you, you could quickly arrange for a person in their party, who was conveniently standing next to the pillows you needed, to grab a few extra for you. In exchange, you would certainly be willing to grab an extra food processor for them. Quick, simple bonds over a common goal led to carts and carts full of Black Friday goodies.
Isn’t this how we should be working with our colleagues across campus? Forming strategic alliances and creating lasting friendships will benefit everyone greatly and enrich the opportunity of our students. There are so many programs and seminars or a number of other events that one department is hosting, that students all over campus could learn from.
However, too many times we are so focused on doing our own work that we forget to take a step back and see what others are doing. We use a lot of time and resources running similar programs when there are a lot of opportunities to collaborate with other departments or areas and have one fantastic program and a little money left over from not having to run an extra event.
The opportunities to form lasting friendships across the university could offer us a wide array of benefits as well. There are openings on committees or professional development opportunities that allow us to meet different people than we would normally work with on a daily basis. Having these friendships across campus provide a chance to pick their brain, which is a point of view that we wouldn’t normally receive. All of these different opportunities, work to help us have a greater sense of purpose of why we do what we do.
Andy Boehnlein, Intramural Sports & Summer Camps Coordinator at the University of Michigan