Corporate Survival Guide: The Holiday Party

On the battlefield, the importance of entertaining the troops is paramount; always keep the guys with the guns happy. Without this goal and the USO, how else could we have kept Bob Hope overseas and off of our television shows for as long as we did?

The corporate battlefield is no different; the soldiers of bureaucracy must occasionally be entertained by the company, to keep their spirits high, their attitude productive, and their guns at home.

Thus comes the annual holiday party at work. This affair can range widely in the particulars. At the low end, it might be a stilted and awkward gathering in a break room to have a carefully-rationed glass of the cheapest box wine available. On the high end, it can be a lavish, stilted and awkward orgy of booze and food that makes you wonder if you're in the right place. Either way works; as long as there's alcohol to help you forget your pathetic existence in the cube farms for an evening, it's better than crying yourself to sleep on the floor of your mother's kitchen. Again.

But the real question for the corporate warrior is: how can you use the situation to your advantage? The savvy soldier always looks for the opportunity to strike the killing blow, and having all of your peers and managers in festive spirits is the perfect time. Here are some strategic party tips:

Helpful Holiday Hints

1) Drink Far Too Much
First of all, realize that they are giving this food away, and a good solider always packs in the free stuff.

But more importantly for your career, it's critical that your management see you diving head-first into the walls of opportunity that they provide for their employees.
You could say, "Oh, I don't drink," which would appear socially responsible. But it would also come off as aloof and, frankly, tedious. Unless they asked you here to drive everyone else home, do you really think they want to hear about your abstention habit?

You could also simply have one drink to appear social. But that's not much better; they didn't provide all of this free booze just to see it politely consumed. They might as well have offered candy bars or breath mints; where's the fun in seeing everyone sip quietly?

No, the alcohol is provided for one purpose and one purpose only. Okay, two. One of the reasons is that they want to give the outward appearance of having provided something nice to the staff, so that you'll remember the $4 bottles of wine the next time they ask you to stay late off the clock. But the main reason is that they want a party. Alcohol, like jello, is a social lubricator, designed to loosen lips and break down stuffy barriers. If they'd wanted a polite conversation, they'd have offered crackers. No, they want an all-out rave. So give them one that everyone will remember, even if you don't.

So help them out; get completely schnockered.

2) Booze schmooze
Networking with your co-workers is best done when you're drunk. For one thing, they will see you as companionable, fun, and harmless, which is exactly how you want them to feel as you undermine their careers to further your own interests. Also, you probably won't remember these conversations the next day, so you don't have to clutter your mind or memory with them and can focus on the important things going forward: managing your career and curing that splitting headache.

3) Suck it up
As always, the most important thing for you to do is to find the nearest executive and suck up to them. Being drunk helps with this critical task, because it breaks down inhibitions and enables you to say things that you otherwise might not, like "Thank you [wipe tear away] for being such a great leader this year!", and "What a great Christmas sweater!," and possible "Sorry for throwing up on your great Christmas sweater!"

If the opportunity arises, don't be afraid to get into a fight to defend the honor of an executive. Pretend that a co-worker says something offensive about the company and take a swing at the detractor before they know what's happening. Your managers will be impressed at your willingness to defend the corporation, even to the point of getting completely beaten up, as will surely happen in your drunken state.
It is important, as you suck up in your inebriated state, to remember to do this with the Right People. Don't waste your compliments on mere co-workers. Likewise for the hat stand, mistaken for your boss in the dim office lighting.

4) Pass out
Your management will know that you completely enjoyed and appreciated the party when you pass out in the guacamole dip. It will be clear that you not only had a great time, but that you prefer the socially acceptable result of sleeping it off at work instead of driving home drunk. Besides, you will get credit for sleeping at the office and pulling an all-nighter (be sure to submit the overtime request to Payroll).
Put this strategy to use as you navigate the treacherous waters of this year's holiday parties. I think you'll be amazed at what will happen to your career. At the very least, you can be happy that you maximized the free booze benefit. And if you did make a complete fool of yourself, at least the alcohol guarantees that you won't have to suffer memories of the debacle.


Little Joke for Sunday

Do married women gain weight in their thighs, or are those just old wives’ tails?


Holiday Spirit

Christmas is such a great time of year, not least of which because of the fantastic music you hear on every radio station, and in every store, and during every on-hold phone experience. I just wish they would start playing these charming ditties sooner, like in May instead of June.

Here's one of my favorites, faithfully transcribed for you from one of the most memorable California musicals:

Wet Christmas

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas,
Just like the one we had last year.
With the rain not stopping, the children sopping,
And more in the forecast, we hear.

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas,
With every sniffle wiped away.
May your days be dismal and gray
And may rain drops fall on every day.


When I am King: Holiday Treedition

When I am King...

All Christmas trees will be fake.

It's such a wonderful time of year, Christmas. Or Hanukkah, if you prefer. Or as some might call it, December.

In any case, it's a great month: a time full of family tradition. One of the best traditions must certainly be the decorating of the tree. You head out with the brood to the nearest old-growth forest, choose the best tree you can find that fits onto the roof of your Prius, and play the Merry Woodcutter to chop that baby down. You drive home, singing Christmas Carols (or Hanukkah Hymns, if you prefer). Once home, you bustle that tree into the corner, where it radiates with a fresh pine smell reminding everyone of the forest it called home until you killed it. Then you make hot chocolate, spiced cider, and mulled wine, get the boxes of ornaments down, and spend the evening in happy harmony, decorating, being together, and spending happy moments that will live in unviewed digital photographs on a hard drive for millennia to come.


You drive to one of the tree vendors in town, park in the overcrowded lot, wind your way through mobs of other shoppers around bundles of tree corpses that are trussed-up and toe-tagged with prices, and choose the tree that looks like the best combination of (1) fits under the ceiling, (2) not too many gaping holes and dead branches, (3) not too obviously desiccated, and (4) painfully expensive but not as much as some. You tie the tree on top of the car where it proceeds to scratch the paint in its death-throes, cart it home, drag it into the house (laying a carpet of dead needles along the way), muscle it into a tree stand, and prop it up in the corner where it begins to fall into disrepair immediately. Then begins the decorating, which starts with untangling the strings of lights and realizing that none of them light up due to dead bulbs. Meanwhile, the only smell from the tree remotely like pine is pee from your dog, who decided that an inside tree is still a tree.

The glorious tradition of felling a Christmas tree in nature, if it ever really existed, is gone like so many other past-times of yore, such as the hoop-and-stick game, or sitting by the wireless listening to the Billy and Edith Hour, Brought to You by Acme Soap.

And so we bought a fake tree.

For the past three years, our family tradition has consisted of finding the box, removing the tree from it, putting it together, and plugging it in. Done. A few minutes after that, the ornaments are on and there's actually time to have a glass of mulled wine or five.

When I am King, life will be more real by being more fake. Christmas trees are just the first step: Why stop there? If we replace the trees in our yards with replicas, we won't need to worry about leaves in the gutter. Fake plants in the garden will go a long way toward eliminating weeding. And artificial turf in place of our lawns will provide year-round green without all of that fuss. And all of these measures will ensure a more natural looking outdoors as global warming slowly kills off the real foliage.

Tradition will live on, of course. For example, we will watch the same Christmas shows every year. Just turn on the tube, and there they are. Next to the plugged-in tree. Instant tradition.


When I am King: DesigNation

When I am King...

We will all have designated victims for the activities of our lives.

I was at a dinner recently with a group of friends, none of whom drink. The waitress set the bottle of wine down on the far end of the table, where it sat lonely and untouched until I got up and fetched it.

It turns out that I was the designated drinker for the evening. There were 6 people, out for a raucous night on the town, but they needed was someone to do the partying vicariously for them. I was happy to oblige.

In the olden days (a phrase which means a time before I can remember which, for me, means more than three weeks ago), princes of the realm would have their own whipping boy. When the prince was naughty, the punishment would fall on the whipping boy instead of the prince himself. Pretty sweet deal, at least for the prince.

Then there's the designated driver concept, where a group of friends want to be irresponsibly drunk without actually dying, so they choose a lesser friend to be the chauffeur for the evening. Note that this approach to partying is not quite as successful as my designated drinker strategy because the drink must be shared amongst the whole group.

When I am King, we will embrace and extend these means of delegation. For example, why reserve the whipping boy concept for princes (or Kings)? We should allow everyone to designate scapegoats for their failures.

We could use a similar approach for the information overload that we all experience. Think how wonderful it would be if we could designate others to receive our mail, read our email, pay our bills, and have meaningful dialogs with our partners about communication in our relationship. Meanwhile, we could be doing our part toward this effort, playing someone's designated drinker, or at least practicing for the role.