Saturday, 7 December 2019
Office Christmas Party
It worked something like this.
All senior managers, there were about six of us, had to donate a sum of money which was used to pay for the Christmas Party. All junior staff attended free.
Now, being related to Ebenezer Scrooge, I used to resent this. Why should I pay a sum of money which I would rather spend on my pet hamster, to buy some food and drink for the junior staff for the "good work" they have done throughout the year? They have been paid handsomely for their work by the company anyway. What more thanks do they need?
But the Head of Department had decreed it will be so and being a coward more than a scrooge I usually grudgingly paid up.
The buying of food and drinks was organised by the juniors who decorated the large meeting room and waited for everyone to attend.
On the day in question, at about 5:00pm, we would all sheepishly gather in the meeting room. A junior would offer everyone a drink of wine or beer, and there was a table with little bits of food one would pick and pretend to enjoy. Personally, I would prefer to be home with my family watching football on TV with a glass of Guinness in hand; but the coward in me won the day.
At the party we would all gather in little groups. The juniors at one end talking to each other and the senior managers standing around like a spare cigar in a non-smokers convention.
I daren't approach a group of juniors. What would I say as small talk? After all, I was working with them not an hour ago. I have nothing in common with them apart from work. This is a Christmas Party after all. Saying something like, "are you ready for Christmas?" or "have you done all your shopping yet?" seems so limp and false because in all honestly I don't care the slightest about their festivities arrangements.
I stand there by myself sipping this vinegar masquerading for fine wine until I am approached by another senior manager who is also at a loss for something to do. He bores me to death with the financial report he is preparing for some project or other. I daren't tell him to his face that I care more for my hamster than his financial report or my staff's Christmas plans. But I nod politely and make some inane comment safe in the knowledge that at least I don't have to circulate and pretend to be enjoying myself.
At some point someone taps his wine glass with his knife and asks for silence. The room quietens down and the Head of Department makes a speech thanking everyone for their hard work during the year, wishing us a Merry Christmas, and hoping for better things from all of us the following year.
On one occasion, I remember a certain Head of Department, totally unannounced, had invited his wife to the office Christmas Party. She was the only "outsider" in the room. She stood beside him as he made his speech and then someone, who had been forewarned, came forward and presented her a bouquet of flowers. He then called his senior managers one by one and introduced us to her.
What could I do? Leave the room? I am a coward after all, remember! I came forward with the other toads when called, shook her hand and wished her a Merry Christmas.
And that was Christmas in years gone by at our office.