The Painful Office Christmas Party

Here we are again, running the Christmas gauntlet...including that exquisite torture device known as the "Office Christmas Party."

If you've ever worked in a white collar job, then you know that the erstwhile office Christmas party, while something endured every year, rarely if ever achieves its theoretical objective. In fact, if the OCP (as I will henceforth call it) were a service or product, the company would soon go out of business.

Oh, some of us enjoy the event, but for the average office worker? Mike Judge's classic film "Office Space" comes closer to the mark. Of course, that's true for office work in general...

Bright Light! Bright Light!

As if the Secret Santa thing weren't bad enough (ugh), for most of us the OCP provides an opportunity for those of us who have otherwise kept our heads down and avoided the big boss's eye to bring ourselves blatantly to their attention. Usually this involves someone spiking the eggnog and, horrifyingly, lampshades.

One can only hope that a) the party is alcohol-free; or b) there's not a pink slip on the ol' keyboard come Monday morning. Then you can hide from the bright light of the boss's gaze for another 360 days or so. Remember, there's always the kneehole of your desk.

Bad, Made Worse

Once upon a time, the saving grace of the OCP was that it was held during office hours, maybe in a conference room or two, and you got to escape from your soul-crushing drudgery for a few hours. Yours truly can fondly (if only vaguely) remember such respites from cubicle hell.

Now, though, the trick is for the company to hold the party at some other location during your rare and valuable free time; say, at the Ritz-Carlton on Saturday night, when you really should be drinking tea and watching reruns of Big Bang Theory on TNN.

To pile insult on injury, they may even make you dress up in something fancy.

Arggh!

So off you go to spend your hard-earned cash on formal clothing you don't own. (I dunno about you, but sweats and flannel are more my speed). Then you get to be stiff and uncomfortable for hours and maybe even dance to the wounded tunes of a cover band.

At least you get to eat all the melted Brie, strawberries and cream, and free chicken wings you can stand. Probably.

Even though the company may spend a bomb on the fête, they've come to realize they save money in the end because they don't have to pay you for the hours you don't work, it saves wear and tear on the office, and they punish you by making you spend money on what's supposedly their Christmas gift to you.

Oh yeah... they've got this office Christmas party scam polished to perfection.

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