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Friday, March 23, 2012

Office Parties - Get Crazy.

Today we are having an office party at 12:30.  Throw your hands in the aya - wave them from hea to theya!

I have determined that no matter where in the world you work, okay besides maybe the UK, office parties suck.  I say maybe not in the UK because I used to work for a British company and on more than one occasion when I was visiting the motherland, there would be a few get togethers during work hours where the whole office would go down to the Pub and have a few. It's a beer culture and that reduces lameness factor, plus not sitting around an office conference table for a party tends to lift the spirit a bit.  Going back to work after pub parties did suck however.

Anyways, whether you are in the US or Kenya or countless other places, office parties are awkward. Usually you are celebrating some poor soul that either is leaving the company, got pregnant or is having a birthday.  And usually that poor person is forced to serve the cake to everyone, do some public speaking thanking people for coming and getting free cake, and then you have to hang around till the last person dwindles back to their cube when really all you want to do is go back to your seat and be left alone. What more could you ask for?

The office parties here in my office in Nairobi are slightly even more awkward. Most of the time it is to celebrate someone leaving..which is a funny concept anyways. I mean, why don't we celebrate the staff that comes back every Monday for more? Ugh.

Anyways, usually we all gather in the conference room around a gigantic table and we sit there and stare at each other until someone finally starts talking. If you are really important, they will cater it with samosas and chapati and rice. If you are not so important, there will be an office pool to get you a cake. Then everyone is required to say something to the person of honor. We literally have to go around the room and everyone must say how happy they are that you are leaving.  Even if you don't know the person - your comment may end up something like this:
"Beatrice, it has been great passing you in the hallway - you have always shown kindness to me at the watercooler, often stepping aside for me to get my water first. And I'll never forget that time you picked up my print job and brought it to me. We will surely miss you." Next.

Pretty sure we are all in the same boat - mostly here for the cake. I will now show you some thrilling photos of office parties where I currently work. There is an order to this - please pay attention.

First: Sit around the table and look less than enthused. Start thinking of what you will say about the person when it is your turn to speak. Come up with something people have not said yet.
Second: Speaking begins.

Third Step: Make the person of honor (usually the person leaving the company) cut and serve the cake for all 35 people. Note: This person will already be feeling extra awkward and guilty since they are leaving for greener pastures and all you sorry suckers are left in their dust. They may feel a twinge of what we call traitor syndrome. Plus we all now know that they  have been looking for jobs and interviewing during office hours.

Lastly, let the chapati be served!

Now, I need to go and plan what the hell I'm going to say at today's party. Maybe I'll just tell a totally unrelated parable and then sit down with a neutral face and let everyone think for days about how my story could possibly apply to a staff member leaving.

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