Complaining about bad company Christmas parties? I’d like to get in on that.
Actually though, I haven’t been to too many office Christmas parties. I’ve usually been lucky enough to be out of town or otherwise busy on the date in question. But right before I quit my old job I did attend one at my boss’s house, and it wasn’t too bad. Over the course of the evening I watched the Irish guys who populated the office gradually get drunker, redder and angrier, which was more entertainment than I had been expecting.
Eventually the situation was defused by the dissemination of the holiday bonus giftcards. After that, everyone left within five minutes. It wasn’t a lot of fun, but it wasn’t that bad. No worse than sitting through church, anyway.
But I was subjected to some entertainingly bad Christmas gifts from that job. I shouldn’t really complain about the bonuses (or lack thereof) because I was generally compensated pretty well, particularly toward the end of my tenure. But there’s no excuse for this:
Yup, the first Christmas bonus I ever received was a button-up denim shirt with the company logo on it (and a friendly reminder that we were HUBZone Certified). And it was at least three sizes too large. Admittedly, I’m a computer programmer — it wasn’t wholly unreasonable to assume that I’d grow into it, so to speak. But size aside, there was no conceivable use for the shirt that didn’t involve the phrase “booth at a trade show”. It was more of a threat than a gift.
Things picked up, though. The next year I got some House of Representatives cufflinks that were actually kind of nice, but unfortunately not something that I would ever wear in this town. Call it a wash, I guess.
But my final Christmas at that job was indisputably great. The Amex gift card was a nice surprise, but the real treat was this:
I won it in the gift swap (my contribution to which was a pen that lit up when your cell phone rang, except actually didn’t). Pictures can’t convey how awful this ceramic sculpture is. I’ve seen this monkey elicit physical reactions of disgust in its viewers — it really does sort of make your skin crawl. This pleases me immensely, and it remains one of my most prized possessions.
But I think the era of the awful holiday party may be over for me — for now, anyway. EchoDitto’s is on Monday, and it promises to be pleasantly full of booze and food. I begged out of last year’s celebration since I hadn’t yet started the job, but by all accounts it was pretty fun. So I’m looking forward to this one. The only problem is that I’ve got nothing lined up for the gift swap. I suppose I could always bring the monkey, but I don’t think I’m ready to pass that torch just yet.