This one's a little long, sorry...
Last Friday we had our annual luncheon to honor our best clients and those with the longest tenure. Whenever I’m asked to put on a coat and tie, I know it’s going to be interesting. This is due to the fact that you normally only dress up for important occasions (which is not my strong point) and that having to move around in a sport coat is never a pleasant (and by pleasant I of course mean graceful) experience for me. It seems I was created solely for shorts and t-shirts, but I have not been able to convince my employer of the benefits of having me work in shorts yet. I keep saying that a comfortable employee is a productive employee, but apparently my employer sees the word comfortable being interchangeable with lazy.
We all met at the office prior to heading down to Anaheim for the big event practically under the shadow of Disneyland. I was unsuccessful in trying to convince my coworkers that we should blow off the luncheon in favor of spending a few hours at The Magic Kingdom as a ‘team building’ exercise. I guess it was for the better since we all would have looked like foreign tourists when we showed up at Disneyland in suits and nice dresses (if you’re keeping score, I was one of the ones in a suit).
Before we left, Female Coworker expressed her desire to carpool with someone so that she ‘wouldn’t have to arrive at the event alone.’ I never would have heard a guy in the office say that. Since Mr. Lay Low and I had already made a secret backroom deal to carpool together, we said that Female Coworker would be more than welcome to follow us. I have never experienced anything as intimidating as Female Coworker bearing down on my tailgate in her Jag. Mr. Lay Low suggested that I give her the ole windshield wiper brush back. It was pure genius. I have cleaned my windshield to get people off my rear bumper many times before, but it never occurred to me to use that tactic on a friend. I guess it’s because I’m too nice or something (you can substitute the word nice for the word scared here, by the way). As the mist of my windshield cleaner flowed up and over my roof as can only be witnessed with an aerodynamic late model vehicle, what I saw in my rearview mirror was priceless. Every time I had to spray Female Coworker back, I could see her cussing and giving me certain fingertory salutes and gestures. I’ll be honest, it got to the point that Mr. Lay Low and I just started using the wiper cleaner for the sheer fun of it, regardless of the distance between her Jag and my truck. Reminder to self – I need to refill my wiper cleaner reservoir.
When we finally reached our destination, both of our windshields were spotless. Not ready to be done with the fun yet, I pulled into a parking stall as far as possible from the entrance to where we were supposed to be (Female Coworker doesn’t like to walk and never hesitates to let us know that). The minute she pulled into her spot, I backed out and kept driving. It wasted a gallon of gas ($3.37 per gallon when I checked this morning), but the look on her face as we were backing out was worth 5 gallons. We parked where we were supposed to and Female Coworker motioned us into the back of her Jag. When I was younger I had dreams that began this way, but this was very different. Mr. Lay Low and I got into her vehicle and she explained that she didn’t want to walk in too early, so she needed us to wait with her. Again, any guy I have ever worked with would have just gone right in. Certainly, I was charting new territory.
When Female Coworker gave us the ‘all clear’ to enter the event, we were yelled at by the event’s organizer because they were still getting things ready and we had to get out. Nice work Female Coworker! The event was motor sports themed, so I was somewhat more at ease despite the coat of death that I was forced to drape over me. I did get a lot of compliments about my sports coat from people I have worked with for a long time, but that’s probably because they aren’t accustomed to seeing me without my sleeves rolled up and collar unbuttoned. Looking back, I felt so cheap all dressed up.
Finally, we were allowed in and I found my table. For some reason, my table was located in the back again. I’m starting to detect a recurring theme with the location of my table, but I can’t complain since the table’s placement had two great benefits. My table was located closer to the dessert table than anyone else’s and it allowed my colleague from another office and I to make fun of what was going on without detection.
I hope that the keynote speaker was not asked to give an inspirational speech. I say this because the speech involved stories of him getting in trouble hot rodding as a youth and more than a few references to how he needs to take public transportation and has to make phone calls from the local phone booth. I suppose it may have been a joke but it sure was hard to tell and not too inspiring. I kept waiting for him to tell us that if we didn’t shape up we’d be living in a van down by the river.
Two and a half hours later when all of the awards had been distributed, my colleague nudged me awake. Seeing that I had awoken before most other people in attendance, I took it upon myself to take our table’s centerpiece, which was a nice big mock racing trophy. Upon my exit from the building, a few people who knew me gave me inquisitive (and you can substitute inquisitive here with accusatory) stares. I calmly explained that I was taking it for one of my clients who could not attend. This explanation worked and I then ran to my truck to place it softly in Lucy’s car seat. No, I didn’t buckle my new prize in, but I thought about it. When I returned to the office with my prize, I was hailed as a conquering hero. We have decided that it will now be used to honor our coworkers’ stupidity. The trophy will be presented to whoever does the dumbest thing and will reside with them until someone tops it. For some reason, it’s still in my office.
Since the event was held in a private collector’s car museum, we were given a behind the scenes tour of the owner’s 300+ classic cars. I don’t know if the owner of these vehicles is looking to adopt a 33-year-old son, but I’d gladly volunteer. I’m sure my dad wouldn’t mind as long as he got one of the older Corvettes I saw on display. Despite everything I have ever done while at work, there were two ‘incidents’ during the car tour that could have cost me my employment. When we walked past a picture on the wall, I mentioned it looked like our company’s Senior Vice President, except that it was a little more, ok…much nerdier. The comment got a lot of laughs until we all noticed that the same Senior VP was standing a few feet behind us. I should have learned my lesson there, but of course, I didn’t. A little while later in the tour we came across a car that had been built for the Paris Auto Show in the 1930s. The owner explained that when Germany occupied France the car was taken and used to transport Nazi leaders around in style. I casually mentioned that in light of the car’s pedigree how appropriate it would be for our upper management to use it. What I didn’t realize was that my boss’ boss was only two people away and he heard me. He’s a short fellow, so anyone could have made the same mistake.
All in all, it was a great day, with the exception of the event itself. You know, whenever I think about leaving this job and returning to freelancing I always think of how much I will miss the free entertainment that my office provides. With the dawn of each day, you just never know what is going to happen. Take today for instance. We got to have a fire drill, which is always good for breaking up the monotony while we wait outside pretending our building is burning down. I just wish that as we waited I could have gotten someone else to join me in singing the entire 10 minutes and 49 seconds of ‘Disco Inferno,’ complete with recreations of all the instrumental bridges. I so could have been that annoying Andy dude on ‘The Office.’
Monday, May 07, 2007
This one's a little long, sorry...