Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Office Christmas Party

It's time for the dreaded Work Christmas Party. You know what that means...forced fun, chicken wings, and uncomfortable small talk. But the old Office Christmas Party just isn't what it used to be, is it? During "these tough economic times" (see how many times you hear that phrase in the next year or three), companies have jumped at the chance to eliminate throwing the working man a bone with a high class night out featuring a prime rib carving station, terrible cover band, and open bar at the Holiday Inn Rockside Ballroom. Those days are o-v-e-r. Now you're lucky if you get a couple pizzas and a shared 2 liter of Diet Mountain Dew in the bleak lunchroom.

We have entered headfirst into the second decade of our Glorious New Age of Total Correctness, where copious drinking, cigarette smoking, and interest in the opposite sex is Very Bad. These days if Joe from Shipping ties on one in view of anyone from his workplace, he's likely to find himself summoned into human resources for an extensive Q&A from a team of uptight professionals. He'll then reluctantly be sent off to an insurance plan approved Born Again Christian Rehab Center after the "lawyers from Corporate" decide that having him fired, blacklisted, and water boarded (while advisable) is not legal.

The worst part is, I think some of those parties were actually fun. Everyone from the office power structure met on the level playing field of a God awful reception area of a hotel, knocked back an ill advised number of drinks, and really told each other what was on their minds. It cleared the air, and provided great conversation for months afterwards. "Did you see Judy from Accounting dancing the lambada with Brad? OMIGOD!"

The last really great Office Christmas Party I went to was in the mid 1990s. I was working at a terrible radio station that was not afraid to have a good time. The party was on a Thursday night and very heavy drinking was not only encouraged, it was expected my management. The badge of honor was to get removed from the party in a wheelchair, and then somehow show up at 8:30 am at your desk the next day.

This particular year a woman on the sales staff went all out and showed up dressed to the nines. I'm talking ballroom gown with matching gloves that went to the elbow. She was certainly the Belle of the Ball, as most of the other ladies made snide comments while the guys checked her out. I didn't really think too much about her until I showed up to work the next morning with a crushing hangover. Most of the other people were there, when we noticed the Belle of the Ball was not. Extensive post game analysis of the party led to speculation that she had hooked up with our morning man at the time, a legendary DJ that was much older than her (and frankly, a bit down on his luck). It turns out the morning DJ had a room at the hotel, and public opinion leaned that the Belle of the Ball might have stayed with the DJ after a quick exit from the party. A fellow co-worker decided to take the bull by the horns, and call over to the hotel to find out if she was there via his speaker phone while everyone else from the office gathered around to listen in to the call. The call went like this:

Sales Guy: "Can I have the DJ's room please?


Belle: "Hello?"

Sales Guy: "What are you doing?"

Belle: (sexy voice) "Laying here thinking about you..."

Sales Guy: "Do you know who this is?"

Belle: "Sales Guy? Oh my god!"

Everyone in the office starts laughing like crazy into the speaker...

Sound of a phone being quickly dropped into the cradle on her end...


She wouldn't come back to work for two days, and the sales manager had to gently coax her back, promising it wasn't a big deal. Who would even remember after the weekend? Of course we were all 100% focused on it, and had taped a few promo head shots of the DJ onto her desk area. As I recall, she sat down quietly on her return, breathed a sigh of relief that no one had called her out as she walked in. It was then she noticed the pictures, and hissed "You Assholes!" before storming off into the women's room. Isn't that what the Holidays are all about? Isn't that why we get together and celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas? (The true meaning of Xmas is when Baby Santa was born, and was visited by the Three Wise Men on the North Pole as I recall...)

By the way, I'd like to say this story had a happy ending, but it got a little messy. As I understood it, the sales girl got pregnant, tried to sue the DJ for child support, but then her lawyer discovered the DJ had gotten a vasectomy years earlier. Maybe she had gone to another Christmas party that year, I don't know. I think she quit when the lawsuit went south. About 4 months later she was my waitress at a pizza place in Parma. I was uncomfortable, and left without ordering. Oh well, Merry Christmas!


At December 21, 2008 at 2:23:00 PM EST , Blogger cindy said...

I agree with hating the office christmas party, although I too kinda miss the balls out drinking/vomit fests of the good old 90's. This year, we had a 1/2 hour, in office catered "affair" with no alcohol and the expectation that we get our asses back to work by 1:15 at the latest. Bah fuckin humbug.


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