I have been doing two jobs in two different offices since February, and that means that I get to go to two Christmas parties this year. The first one was today, and while it was fiiiiIIiiIIiine, it wasn’t great, and once again I’m a bit disappointed.
Our Christmas parties at work always take the same format – we close the office at lunchtime, everyone gets the afternoon off, and we go into Brighton for a meal somewhere. I always have high hopes for them, and people seem to look forward to it, and there is general consensus that we will have the meal and then go on for drinks somewhere nearby afterwards. But for some reason with the office of my main job, it NEVER really happens it and always falls a bit flat.
We went to the Chilli Pickle this year, an Indian restaurant in Jubilee Square. The food was quite nice, but rather over-priced for general Indian fare, and the service was sooooo slow. It was half empty in there, we were booked in at 12.30, and they didn’t even manage to bring us our starters for an hour. They said “oh, one of the dishes takes 20 minutes to steam”. Oh yeah? And what were the other 40 minutes was for? So that was a bit annoying, and I’d drunk most of my wine before I’d even eaten anything.
And then it just went a bit awkward and wrong at the end. This will sound a bit ungrateful, but our meal is paid for by the university, and in the past our Dean has always bought the drinks. I’ve been to five Christmas meals with this office, and he ALWAYS does, and we are all suitably grateful and it’s terribly nice of him. And this year he just.. didn’t. He stood up at 3, said “I have to go now, I have a meeting”, left £5 for his drinks and left. And that didn’t even cover what he actually drank! So we paid for our own, which is fine, we shouldn’t expect to get them paid for, but everyone was a bit confused and it took ages to sort the money out.
Then the restaurant decided we hadn’t arranged to pay for the food by invoice (we had), so our manager had to pay on his credit card, and it was all very awkward like it always is when you’re sorting out meal money and it never seems to add up to enough even though you feel like you’ve put about £50 in.
And then everyone just left! We’d talked about going for drinks during the meal, but one or two people said actually no they wouldn’t come after all, and then the rest fell like dominoes and the whole thing collapsed. People have always lamed out a bit in previous years, with only a handful of us going out until maybe 6 or something and it feeling a little half hearted, but we’ve never disbanded at 4 before.
So it was a bit of a damp squib really. I don’t know why it always happens like that – even the people in the office who have children are usually quite up for it, and have arranged childcare especially, and say things like “I’m free for the whole day and I’ve not been out for ages!” But then it stalls. My main theory is that there isn’t really anyone in our office who plays the role of that sparky, lively person who gets everyone going and makes you want to stay out. And you can’t have a social group without a person like that. I wish I could be that person – they’re always very popular – but I’m not, so I really ought just to accept that our Christmas parties are pleasant but short, and not raise my expectations too much.
I’ve got my second party with my new office on Friday. That one is with a much larger group, and I’m told their previous parties have been complete train wrecks of booze and shots and stupidity. So that should be fun and quite a contrast anyway! I suppose we shall see.