Kelly Clarke (seated, on stool) with some of her work family, one of whom was out that day and had to be Photoshopped in

Image: David Gaston

Somewhere between spying the custom, employee-built video game console and the bar with a view of the Burnside Skatepark at Autodesk’s new Central Eastside office, and eyeballing its sun-streaked roof deck with the vista of downtown a few floors above, it started to set in: office envy. Sure, Portland Monthly’s downtown digs boasts free fresh fruit in our kitchen and my deskside window has a view of Powell’s Books (childhood goal, achieved), but do we have massage chairs in our own private library? Not just yet. (Or, you know, ever. We work in media, people.)

Touring the California-based software giant’s Portland hub for our Best Places to Work cover package—which also includes local companies that offer unlimited vacation, lavish employees with free vegan ice cream, and celebrate trans staffers—was pure eye candy. And I couldn’t wait to get back to my crew at the magazine to fill them in on what I’d seen. That’s always the next step in the reporting process: comparing notes with my fellow staffers in order to stitch another patchwork square of our city’s cultural story. It’s a task we, as a staff, process together, obsessing over the things that make Portland a unique place to live, in ways both wonderful and disheartening. It’s fun, hard, rewarding work, made better by the minds I am lucky enough to share it with. Because, not to get trite and maudlin (very much my personal brand), free ice cream is great, but enjoying the people you work with is what vaults a job from chore to calling.

This month’s issue of the magazine ought to give you plenty to discuss with your own coworkers, from the rise of unions in Oregon (so hot right now) or the trend of prominent local men who are terrible at apologizing. Use our feature on workday lunches as an excuse to take your office bestie out for a noon nosh, where you can talk about the curious medical case of an Oregon woman who forgot five years of her life. Also, our news editor, Julia Silverman, outs herself as a decades-long Bachelor fan, which is just weird and amazing.

Terms like “work wife” get tossed around a lot in American work culture, a joking nod to the near-toxic amounts of time many spend at offices in comparison to our homes. But the best jobs come with a legit work family: a group of humans you do not, for the most part, get to choose, but through shared experience, setbacks, and goals come to respect and ferociously care for. These are the people who absorb your stress and celebrate your wins—and concoct the best, months- or even years-spanning inside jokes. They know you, for better and worse, in a mode that few others ever will.

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