Friendships In Various Forms

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

Our society has become so fast paced and harried that cultivating true friendships seems at times as passe’ as the celebrity, Vanilla Ice. Therefore, Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be only for the hopeless romantics. It is a time to celebrate and rejoice the relationships that we form in our lives even the ones we never thought could happen. Join me as I take this wonderful opportunity to thank the friendships that make my world go round.

My first group of friends are better known as the Steel Magnolias. When I first met this online group I was instinctly drawn to their unique personalities. I knew I had made lifelong friends. We all reside in the east coast of North America. Despite our age range, 33 and up, we are able to support each other’s goals and keep a patient ear for those Calgon moments!

With a sledgie at hand, we vent and laugh at the escapades in our lives. The most amazing part of this internet group is that it affects our real lives as well. When ZUZU had her baby girl we were all so pleased. We each recieved a “real” card with a picture of baby Sarah. When some of us had a death in the family we supported each other. It has been almost two years since I met these strong and smart ladies. My mornings couldn’t be better without hearing from Mel, Zuzu, Cejay, Cynedra, and Happybug!

Sometimes friendships can form from an adversarial situation. As a rider in the Dade County Special Transportation Service for the past 10 years I have k

inda, sorta, in a round about way, voiced my opinion on more than one occassion on the injustices that we, the disabled riders, have endured while riding this particular service.

Once a month the County holds a Rider’s Meeting to express our adventurous travels with this system. The owner’s of these companies are expected to attend in order for them to improve their business.

In 1995, a particular gentlemen, Jorge Azor, always approached me with a business card after every one of my complaints regarding his company. He was always very professional and definitely stood out among the rest of the transportation providers. He was providing a service and I was telling him where his company was underperforming. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Actually, I was very flattered that he regarded my opinion as having substance. Often times, the complainer is disregarded. He took my suggestions seriously and applied them. Jorge doesn’t forget that the client is the purpose for his business’ existence as he treats his clients with respect and dignity Despite his business colleagues’ skeptisim, a friendship of trust was formed.

Years later, we not only hear each other out concerning the dynamics of the STS, but he has become a trusting friend and mentor. During my two summer internship positions as his personal assistant at his company, ZUNI TRANSPORTATION, I have gained a wealth of information that can’t be found in business textbooks.

Our valuable conversations in the “Dream Mobile” are like little business and life lessons. When he is not around I call him my mini “Donald Trump” so far I have not been “fired”.

We might not see eye to eye on everything but I am always confident in knowing that we will treat each other with mutual respect and honesty. My adversary is now my mentor.

Nothing is closer to our hearts than family. While growing up in Miami, my mother often reiterated after refereeing a fight that my younger sister, Ingrid, and I would one day become best friends. We looked at each other and our eyes said, “I don’t think so!” Never argue with mom!

Today my sister, Ingrid, and I are very close. In fact, my other little sister who is nine years younger than me is also a trusting confidant in my life. When we get together the world better look out because we can cover every topic under the sun from fashion, relationships, politics, to who has the best boyfriend, nose, hair and job.

Of course, there is the dark side! Those vicious arguements that would cause even the strongest friendships to throttle back and forth have very little effect on our frienship. Once the dust has settled we go back to being the close knit sisters that mother once said would be so tight that no one could tear us apart. And you know the deal, never argue with mom!