It’s that time of year again, when HR decides that we really want to hang out with our coworkers AND their families instead of just giving us a half day off. Oh, and this year they want to make sure it’s interactive. So my usual strategy of finding my pack of work friends and do our part to make sure the company ends up on the right side of the open bar ROI calculation is now moot.
I always talk about just dodging out and enjoying a free half day on my own. However, year after year I get swept up in with free t-shirts and coming up with team names and whathaveyou, and my declaration of “i’m just having a beer and then ditching” ends up with me splitting a cab after the third after party bar and my husband shaking his head, saying, “You don’t even like these people, did you really just waste a bender on them?”
Summer outings are a unique social experiment as there are several dynamics at play:
- The breeders v. the singles: Are there any phrases that can suck the fun out of day drinking more than, “Spouses and families invited”? IMMEDIATELY the cool single people will start an email campaign pleading to the crew to NOT bring their SOs. And is there anything more awkward than doing Irish car bombs when the COO’s 12 year old is waiting in line for a coke? I’m in this weird middle ground, as I’m definitely now the oldest person without kids. Do the young people want me around? I don’t think so. Do the parents want me around? I don’t think so. the company should really just give me my own drink voucher for the bar next to the office.
- The executives v. the rest of us: There is nothing ‘FUN’ about learning that the VP of sales is on your scavenger hunt team. Or awkwardly running into the CFO while you’re double fisting and making some stupid comment about “making sure the company got its money worth” or overexplaining about how the creative team keeps making me go to the bar for them, because they did so much extra work for me over the past week, and they really work so hard, and uh, yeah that’s why there are two jack and cokes in my hand.
- The HR people vs. everyone else: The summer outing is the HR department’s Conference Championship (not to be confused with the Don’t-call-it-a-Christmas-party- Holiday party, which is the Superbowl). Their pre-event hype-building emails, their fliers reminding you to GET PUMPED on the refrigerator, their nervous energy while corralling everyone to shut down their computers and leave for the party, and then desperate please to pry everyone away from the booze and play the Giant Jenga game. Go away!!
I do have fond memories of some amazing summer outings in my youth. Like convincing the coach bus driver to pull over to a rest stop so we could — cough cough– pee (load up on booze). Or shoving bottles of whiskey down my shirt on the way out (hey, we paid for it, right?). Or laughing at a coworker who ended up having a full conversation with his beer. Now that i think about it, that all happened at one very long party.
Anywho, as long as there is corporate, there will be summer outings. You know, for morale.