Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The reason some of us are in charge and some of us should be confined to the corner in social situations

We are having our office holiday lunch on Friday.

In less frugal times, the organization hosted an evening party - a holiday cocktails and dinner affair, to which you could bring your significant other. They were food-filled, boozy affairs.

The last one was 2007. I'd invited Nick last minute, mainly because we'd just gotten serious - hell, we'd practically just met. And also because, well, you just never know what people will say. And colleagues are not like family. You can't tell them to behave.

Although now that I write that, I realize it's so pot-kettle of me.

Nick, to my great relief, was unable to come. He was out of town for work. And it was so lucky for me that cell phone reception in that hotel was abysmal.

The evening was a fun one. There were cocktails before dinner, and plenty of wine poured at the tables. And then a number of us migrated up to the bar afterward.

Chuck was still alive then. I think it was he who started the passing around of the HR Director title. We each took a turn saying, "I'm director of HR. And here's who I'm going to fire." And that was seriously the least of it.

But earlier in the evening, much earlier, when not even that much wine had been consumed, I wound up chatting with the relatively-new president of our organization and his wife. They were making the rounds.

We mad polite conversation about the holidays, family, and such. His wife asked how I liked working at our organization.

I said, "It's the most bizarre place I've ever worked. It's like being on another planet." I turned to her husband and asked, "Don't you think?"

To which he replied, "Oh, look! People are heading in the other room. We should go mingle."

And that was that.


  1. At first glance, I thought the aliens in the drawing were stuffed animals belonging to Big J. Office parties are intersting social experiments, aren't they? My team had one a few years ago and someone brought a White Elephant gift that was a rubber chicken and a shot glass. We turned it into the "Funky Chicken Award" and it is very coveted.

    So, yeah, my work place is a different planet as well.

  2. Just what a relatively new president of a company wants to hear about his new aquisition, it's interstellar and freaky.
    My workplace has turned into seven different levels of hell and people are leaving in droves at the moment. I am waiting to hear back from another company at the moment. Should know something by next week apparently.

  3. I love this story, and your bright blue dress in the little drawing. xoxoxo

  4. Maiden Metallurgist - It was very smooth. Impressive.

    HKW - Ah, yah. I kind of struggled with how to draw aliens.

    I love the idea of the Funky Chicken award. It's so great when random things like that start and then become coveted objects.

    Go-Betty - Ugh, that sucks. I'm crossing my fingers for you.

    Jane - Hugs to you!

  5. I would love to be able to blog about my office Christmas parties. They are insane. Our office party is tomorrow night and just this morning I was instructed by a senior partner to wear a dress that shows off my nice ass. Yeah. Really not looking forward to the party, though it's nice that it's on a Thursday this year instead of the usual Saturday. Hopefully the drinking won't get out of hand this year. Ha. Wishful thinking.

  6. Hillary, that is shocking sexism. What do you say to things like that? I wouldn't know what to do, I'd be so floored.

  7. ha ha - i'm the sober bartender working all your crazy office parties!

    man the stories i could tell...

  8. I really wish we could just go to work and go home and not do the fake work socializing.

    A company I worked at a few years back, was a small company of less than 50 people (unfortunately, because I really wish an employee could have complained to the EEOC). Sometimes we had holiday gatherings in the office or at a restaurant, but every gathering began with the CEO saying, "I'm a Christian and we pray...Jesus, Lord in Heaven...." totally oblivious to the Muslim, Jewish and non-believing employees he had working for him. Then one Christmas party at a restaurant, our very heterosexual CFO sitting at a table, which included a straight guy with facial hair and gay guy with none, proceeded to tell everyone that, "facial hair makes you look gay, every guy I've ever met with facial hair has been gay".

    Made for some pretty interesting after party gossip : )

  9. Warning, rant ahead:

    At my first job, I felt pressured to attend all kinds of things; Pub Fridays, holiday, jewelery, candle, and fuckerware parties. Whithin a year, the minutes at these events began to fly by like hours.

    At future jobs I let it be known early on, in plain English, that with rare exceptions, it was just too stressful trying to fit extracurricular work events into my time budget.

    To those who didn't respect that, (seems there's one at every workplace) and tried to bully, wheedle, or otherwise manipulate me, I used this formula:

    #1 - Intimated via body language and neutral facial expression, a solid stance; "Oh, I don't go to after-work events, remember?"

    #2 - Then shut mouth; ball's in their park. ("My kids don't see enough of me as it is" would be an easy out, but truly, no excuses need be specially designed for each occasion - this is NOT something that must be defended. I need not feel embarrassed.)

    #3 - Wrap it up with a bit of 'make-nice' (not to be confused with back peddaling or apologizing). "Yeah, so like I said, I'm too busy for these things. I sometimes feel wistfull about it. Sure is nice of you to let me feel my presence will be missed, (neutral face moves into smile) but hey, I hope YOU have a blast!"

    They say "Time flies when you're having fun!" Yeah, well, time flies whether we're having fun or not, and it's time we don't get back.

    I don't know why more people don't opt out of these things. Isn't work is something we do to support our PERSONAL lives? Why do we need to pretend otherwise? Isn't it enough that we go out on a limb to relate pleasantly to these people for 40 hours or more a week?


Tell me about it.