I recently had to attend another work function. I’ve never quite been able to get to the bottom of why we have these tedious things, but I’m beginning to develop a theory that they form part of the staff appraisal process – as a test of employee loyalty.
Attendance is technically voluntary, but unless you have a spectacularly good excuse for not for not being there+, you are expected to show up. Honest reasons for staying away (“Frankly, I’d rather beat myself bloody with a tire iron…”) are met with stony-faced disapproval from members of management and should be avoided at all costs. Unless, of course, you already earn pots of money and couldn’t be bothered with trivialities like salary increases.
Surly waiters; indifferent food; speeches that run to seven pages and beyond – these are all cunningly integrated to ensure maximum psychological impact. The heavy-calibre guns usually emerge later on in the evening, when senior staff get hammered and suddenly start exhibiting that slightly creepy, I’m-your-best-friend-in-the-whole-world behaviour.
My date bore all of the above with far better humour than I’ll ever be able to muster. I owe her big time and she knows it.
+ Such as brain-removal surgery – although that would mean you’d have absolutely no reason to miss any subsequent work functions