'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
OFFICE PARTY ETIQUETTE
It’s that time of year again. It’s the Christmas season, which means giddy and joyful boys drift off to sleep at night dreaming about delightful holiday treats, only to wake up in the morning as groggy and hungover men asking themselves that age-old question, “Omigod! What did I do last night at the office party?!” (Which is frequently followed by that other age-old question, “Omigod! Who owns this red silk underwear wrapped around my head?!”)
This is the time of year when “Ho, ho, ho!” turns into “Woe, woe, woe!” for many unsuspecting corporate employees who have forgotten that the one thing a person must never do at the office party is party.
There are many adverse consequences for partying too heartily at the office Christmas party. The three most frequent are (1) the immediate loss of your job and ostracism throughout the entire business community so widespread that the only new job you can find is as a yak herder in Tibet, (2) the immediate dissolution of your marriage and the complicated ordeal of simultaneously addressing eleven different sexual harassment lawsuits, and (3) the embarrassment of turning in to the lost-and-found department one pair of red silk underwear, owner unknown, while whispering to the lost-and-found clerk, “Let me know if anyone turns in a pair of size 42 tighty-whiteys.”
With this in mind, here are some helpful dos and don’ts for office party behavior.
If the office party begins at, say, 4 p.m., do casually arrive at about 4:20. Don’t stand six inches from the open bar beginning at 3:30 p.m., staring intently at the bartender as he sets up, so you can be first in line at exactly 4 o’clock.
Do express appreciation at the company’s generosity for having an office party. Don’t launch into your common soliloquy about the company’s fiscal policies, the one where every sentence contains the phrase, “cheap bastards.”
When the president of the company arrives with his new wife who is less than half his age, do shake hands cordially and say, “Hello, Mr. McGillicuddy,” and, “You look lovely today, Mrs. McGillicuddy.” Don’t say, “Hey, Big Mack, your daughter is a really hottie!”
Do wave in a friendly manner at co-workers on the other side of the room. Don’t jump onto a table, rip open your shirt, and do the Tarzan yell.
Do mingle and engage in cheerful banter with employees from other departments. Don’t stand in a corner with the same three guys from your department trying to see who can burp the loudest after chugging a beer.
Do keep you hair neatly combed at all times. Don’t put any foreign object on your head at any time, especially underwear.
Do force yourself to look at other people’s faces. Don’t even glance below a person’s neckline, let alone gaze for three-minute intervals at the receptionist’s revealing low-cut dress.
Do remember the party is a business event. Don’t think the party is similar to the holiday booze bashes you attended in college, the ones where everyone was required to have underwear on their heads.
When a waitress approaches with a tray of unknown hors d’oeuvres, do say, “My, those look interesting.” Don’t say, “What’s that crap?”
When it’s time to use the men’s room, do use the men’s room. Don’t conclude that the potted plant in the lobby needs to be “watered.”
If you follow this wise advice, you will make it through the Christmas season healthy, happily married, and felony-free. Plus, your business career will continue its upward path—unless, of course, you get whacked during the January lay-offs.
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