Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"For eight is enough to fill our lives with love."

It’s Office Party Season, folks. Pull out the cable knit sweaters and dig in to cocktail weenies and cheap champagne.

I’m not an office party person. I don’t like playing Kris Kringle with people I don’t know. If it’s a small office or department within an organization, it’s one thing. When it’s 50+ people, many you don’t know, what the heck do you get for a person? My fall back is lotto tickets. I know this will bite me one day.

The other issue with office parties is the schmoozing. I get invited to parties because it’s a network thing. I’m not a schmoozing type. Ok, I am if I have to but I don’t prefer to. Most of the time, I know maybe 3 people at these shindigs. I have to sit there nursing my warm champagne as I try not to cling to someone too much.

Lastly, within my department, we have a division that has a party every month. No lie. Cake is served almost twice a month. Oh, did I mention we have to pay for our parties? Yup. We’re not like some people who get free lunches every Friday or ‘Fun Days’. ahem.

I think I’ve mentioned these parties in the past but did I mention the gift fund? Yes, we have a fund and a bounty hunter who will track you for the cash. For Christmas this year, I was asked to contribute $80. In addition, I was told to bring a gag gift. Then last week, I was also asked if I wanted to participate in a $25 Kris Kringle. Uh, call me The Grinch, but no.

I make cookies for everyone and that’s my present to them. I also get individual gifts for my boss and several co-workers. I really can’t spare another square for office gifts.

You’d think partying every other week would make the office a wild and crazy place to work but it really isn’t. The spirit of the celebration has fizzled.

The get-togethers began in the early 90’s when we were an office of 8 people. Back then, we were building a department from scratch and we spent many an hour together. We grew into a family that celebrated and shared grief together.

Nowadays the dynamic is different. The department has grown tremendously. Work has tripled and it’s impossible to expect that family dynamic to continue.
Yet, there are a few who still believe it can and although I give them ‘A’ for effort, we’re no longer the family we once was.

This year is the last year many of the core family will be attending. This year 5 of the original crew are leaving/have left. We understand this year’s party will be a sentimental one and we’re all attending. I’m off that day but I’ll be coming in.

So for one day, I’ll be less cynical about office shindigs and I’ll savor the camaraderie that I developed in my 8 years here. To the crew of 8, we may never have as crazy of a work crew as we had ever again.

Working at an Elaine Benes office:
1. A party every week , sometimes two.
2. Having to shell out for these parties.
3. After work hour parties.
4. Sugar highs at 11 in the morning.
5. Watching your officemates do the Thriller after several Cranberry Vodka smoothies.
6. One word: Karaoke
7. Being considered a party pooper/non-network type for not attending soiree.
8. BYO food parties.
9. The never ending memories of beer after hours, hidden sausages, moo-moos and shaving cream.