Friday, December 16, 2011

Pity Party (A Work-Related Post)

Q: What do you call a mandatory 3-hour meeting where you sit around doing nothing, eating food you brought from home while you wished you were somewhere else and work continues to pile up on your desk?

A. A work-related Christmas party.

So... I'm pretty sure I've attended my last Christmas party at work.  Yesterday we had our division's Christmas party and today we had our department's Christmas party.

Yesterday's was 2 hours and I attended most of it (I was late because a meeting ran long and I also took a walk in the middle because I was bored) and today's was 3 hours and I was very late because I had work still to do.  I figured I was the only one that would feel the pain if I didn't get the work done and I wasn't willing to inflict that on myself.

Both parties contained an obscene amount of food, most of it unhealthy.  That's a little bit tough to see when we  are a non-profit dedicated to trying to improve the lives of people in extreme poverty around the world.  This was almost entirely paid for by the staff ("bring in a treat to share!") so we weren't taking money out of people's mouths for our own enjoyment.  And, I'm culpable because you know I have no will power and so ate very unhealthily.  If I skip the parties, that's one way to prevent consumption of unnecessary calories.  Win for my diet.

Both parties contained a group art project.  The first, decorating gingerbread houses.  I'm pretty sure those didn't get eaten afterwards.  The second, decorating massive Christmas stockings.  Of course, the designers in our group won.  I actually didn't do much to help my team, I was too busy cleaning up the mess everyone left on the floor.  I figured someone was going to have to clean it up and I didn't know if it would be our group or the facilities people but I was so embarrassed by the mess that I felt it better if I just cleaned it up myself.  That's fine, I didn't contribute to the art project.

Which is probably for the best because I'm apparently destined to be kicked if I try to be artistic.  So... last year, there was a pod(8 cubicles in a cluster)-decorating contest.  A co-worker went out and spent quite a bit of her own money and then worked after hours to decorate our pod.  (I chipped in some cash after the fact.)  It was really quite classy.  When they handed out awards, they had an award for every single pod except ours.  Not even a "thanks for playing," nothing at all.

I thought that was the worst thing you could do to someone who had worked hard on something.  Until this year.  This year, it was a "tree decorating contest."   We didn't have a tree in our cube and I felt like we ought to have something.  We've been running full-bore and didn't have any time.  So while we were meeting with some people, I found a wrapping paper tube, mounted it vertically, and then ran fat tinsel down to the edges of the table alternating in gold, red and green.  And then I wrapped silver tinsel around that in a spiral. While nothing special, it was a festive approximation of a tree.  In half an hour (while working) we went from nothing to nice.  I also mounted take snow along the entrance to our cube and some lights.

One team drew a tree on a whiteboard, another team dumped a bunch of tinsel on the table and said their tree melted.  The other pods (apparently not as busy as us) all had these elaborate creations.  One team made theirs entirely out of stacked and frosted pound cake.  (Again, is that going to get eaten, or are we wasting food?  Painful to see.)

So this year, they made sure they had awards for everyone.  Some were nice, some were funny, all started with the word "Best."  Except ours.  It was "Worst in Show."

"Worst in Show"?  Seriously?

It would have been less rude just to snub us altogether.

Next year, I will not participate in any contest within our group.  I will decorate (and do better than this year) but not in any way that puts us in the running to be disappointed in any contest again.

Other parts of the two parties: sitting around watching the bosses play a game... doing the same trivia quiz we did last year... losing out in a "Christmas spirit" contest (my reindeer tie) to a guy in a Christmas-y Hawaiian shirt... people flipping little rubber-bandy-things all over the place... and a PJ theme.  Yes, that's right - PJs.  Lots of people didn't participate, some people looked silly, and and some... well...  Nothing skimpy, just some stuff where the fabric was probably too thin for the office.  Stuff that I wouldn't mind seeing on my wife but is just wrong for me to see on my female co-workers.  And that's all I'll say on the subject.

Next year, I will not attend any Christmas parties.   That will help me to stay in the Christmas spirit.
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