Every Party Has A Pooper and This Time It’s….Me
Every year, my company requires it’s associates to step away from the day to day grind of our various business objectives and come together for a HOORAH leadership conference to celebrate prior year successes, discuss upcoming initiatives and reignite our collective business focused drive.
Unfortunately, that time of year is fast approaching.
We will convene and be encouraged to network and socialize and become enlightened and reenergized in our own careers through participation in various breakout sessions and team building exercises where we will be forced to do things like play games of telephone that are meant to illustrate the ease at which communication can break down…..again.
Draw pictures of ourselves at work and at home and then describe our self-portraits in “Getting to Know You” safe circles.
Participate in three-legged races and scavenger hunts that prompt some of our more senior associates to begin rubbing hips and knees and inquiring about Advil….while simulataneously hoping someone with an ounce of sense will notice their unease and excuse them from the torture.
For some of the associates who attend, sharing a hotel room with a co-worker is also part of the gig; a prospect I find to be completely horrifying. Especially the years they are deliberately paired up with someone they don’t know. What better way to break the ice than by throwing two strangers into a hotel room together and forcing them to share the same bathroom for three days, am I right?
Thankfully, my department isn’t among those, because I’m fairly certain I would have quit after my first trip.
Overall, as an HR professional, you would think I’d buy into all the team building hype; that I would dive into these activities with gusto, but no. Not really. In fact, every year, I try to get out of going altogether.
I over-exaggerate work concerns and pressing deadlines as excuses for why I should be left behind and I have offered to sacrifice my attendance in order to “hold down the fort” at the office, but it never works.
It’s not that I don’t like my co-workers, but I spend enough time with them and we have already established varying degrees of mutually defined and agreed upon relationships and their boundaries.
Also, I don’t require a rejuvenation and even if I did, a few nights in a slightly better than average hotel, buffet style meals and a few open bars, isn’t likely to get my ass in motion. When it comes to work, I’m motivated by two things only….money and more vacation time.
My real problem with attending though, is not so much because the speeches are often boring and drawn out and delivered by presenters trying desperately to be hip for the millennials….or because of all the chest thumping, back patting, rally cries….or because I really don’t feel like standing on top of yet another platform and free-falling into the hands of my trusty co-workers….but because I really hate the social hours.
Our post meeting social events are meant to be an opportunity to let loose a little and party with our co-workers. We are invited to enjoy some adult beverages, maybe sing some karaoke, bowl a few rounds, play some pool, or just mingle.
Geez, that doesn’t sound so bad, you might be thinking….and if that’s what you’re thinking, then you probably don’t work in Human Resources. Because if you did, you would know that at these events, you are the turd in the punch bowl.
You are the fart in a crowded elevator.
You are a boil on the butt of the party.
Allow me to explain….
I’m the Equivalent of an Old Man Driving a Conversion Van through an Elementary School Zone
When I approach a group of my fellow associates, mingling together over cocktails and copious amounts of laughter….this is apparently how I roll up.
Immediately, the laughter stops and not-so-subtle expressions of unease are exchanged as they greet me with suspicion and I know what they are thinking….Why is she here? What is her motive and when will she be leaving?
I’m the Cock Block of Fun
While my co-workers are taking full advantage of the open bar, I saunter up on the sly and order as follows:
“I’ll have a water with a shot of cranberry juice and a lime….but in a cocktail glass.”
In general, I’m not much of a drinker….though I do really enjoy the occasional glass of wine, an ice cold beer in the summer and a margarita now and then….I just never enjoy them at work functions….but I pretend like I do.
Generally, as the evening wears on, guards begin to drop like flies and suddenly, I look a little less like a policy wielding, code of conduct quoting spy and a little more like one of the gang.
Inevitably, people will begin to slur compliments my way….
“You are awshome!
“I leeerv you, guuurl!!”
While conspiratorially pulling me aside to inquire if I plan to tell their managers that someone just threw up in the trash can and that someone else has passed out in one of the booths.
I know they don’t really love me, but in the moment, it’s kind of nice not to be the random hair in the soup….but I know I’ll never really be one of them.
It’s not that I can’t be. There is really no expectation that I refrain from the fun. I just don’t trust myself not to let slip….in a buzzed lapse of judgement….that Joe told me he didn’t want to share a room with Ben because he wears tightie-whities….or that Suzanne told me she thinks Karen used her deodorant…..or that Christina reported that Monica farts in her sleep.
So, I stick to my faux cocktail, but always, always, always, I get caught….someone takes a sniff or sip of my drink and realizes I’ve been faking all along. Then, it’s time for me to retreat to my room amid renewed suspicions….heightened by massive amounts of alcohol….and I’m no longer AWWWSHOME.
I’m the Cindy Brady of the Corporate World
It’s at these post-meeting social gatherings where the rumor mill kicks up a notch and the gossip flows freely and without abandon.
You are supposed to find out who is secretly dating who….which manager was caught in a suspicious looking “meeting” with his admin….who is suspected of stealing items out of unlocked offices and the assignment and origins of all the office nicknames like DISC (Douche in Sheep’s Clothing), which is the only nickname I know….because a friend and I made it up for our old boss.
However, thanks to my association with Human Resources, which is basically like walking around with a giant sign on your back that says, “I’m paid to tattle,” I get to hear none of it first hand.
Typically….the same dirt will come out weeks later, when the parties have sobered up and suddenly have feelings and a sense of obligation and a work ethic no longer compromised by booze. But by then….it’s just work again and no longer any fun.
You may be asking yourself, “Um, where did that come from?” and “How does this fit into the overall theme here?”
You see, I also dislike these events because even in the best of circumstances, I completely lack the ability to properly mingle.
I’m not the type of person with 875 Facebook friends….I’ve never been to any of my high school or college reunions and the first time I attended a neighborhood Pampered Chef party, was the last time I was invited.
I’m pretty sure it was because as I stood in my neighbor’s beautiful kitchen engaging in a conversation about home decor, I made mention of my profound distaste for black lacquer….then found myself asking for a coaster to protect the black lacquer coffee table in her living room.
I am awkward. I say stupid things at inopportune times and once the ball starts rolling, I can’t make it stop.
Toss me into a room with a large group of people and ask me to present a business objective or train a new set of associates….no problem! I will whip out the charm, add a good pinch of wit and never break a sweat.
Hand me a cocktail glass with a faux drink and a room full of semi-strangers and ask me to socialize however and I will inevitably manage to steer the conversation toward something like….my incredibly ridiculous fear of being murdered and how I have suspected, pretty much everyone I know, of plotting to kill me at one time or another.
Or….when someone excuses themselves from the group conversation to use the restroom, I will shout, “You should use the first stall….it’s always the cleanest!”
Then, while a little voice in my head yells, “Stop talking, you should really stop talking now, STOP TALKING!”
I’ll ignore it and say something like, “I really hope the crab stuffed mushrooms on the buffet tonight weren’t made from canned mushrooms. Did you know the FDA allows so many maggots per can? I don’t know about you, but I’m not really down with eating maggots.”
Speaking of awkward….I never know how to end my blog posts.
So….did you know you can’t hum while holding your nose? Try it….