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LINK The bootleg CDs, the rare books department, and other stories of holiday mayhem — Ask a Manager

By ALISON GREEN on NOVEMBER 24, 2021
All this week I’m going to be sharing holiday stories from years past. Here are more.

  1. The flush

“It was my first holiday party at my office fresh out of undergrad, and with my hearty Irish heritage I am prone to 1) generally ferocious rosacea and 2) an especially vivid red flush after my first drink. I arrived to the party late because I’d walked form work (it was at a hotel conference room area), met with friends, and grabbed a glass of wine. Pretty much immediately after finishing the glass I got my customary alcohol flush.

One of my coworkers (the office front desk manager, so she’d been involved with the whole party, like ordering food, etc) had been drinking way too much at this point, and was already pretty drunk. We wound up in the bathroom washing our hands at the same time. ‘Oh my god, you’re so red,’ she said. I tried to play it off (‘haha yeah, this happens all the time, definitely not something I spend literal hundreds of dollars at dermatologists before I found out it was genetic&rsquo😉, and she goes, ‘Are you allergic to something? Are you having a reaction?’

I tried to tell her it was just my face but she lost her mind. She was positive I was allergic to something. I finally escaped but she kept finding me periodically over the span of probably the next half hour or so, and every time she got more freaked out that I was having an allergic reaction. Her reactions went from slightly worried but having too much fun to think about it to grabbing my cheeks and feeling my pulse. Finally I thought I lost her by hiding with some friends in a corner.

NOT SO. Fifteen minutes later I’m over at the table pondering which cake slice to take when this woman appears with an epi-pen clutched precariously in her fist, pulls me around by my shoulder, and tries to LIFT MY DRESS UP to get to my thigh!! I’m scrambling away, she’s too drunk (thank god) to actually be effective at stabbing me with adrenaline I DON’T NEED, and worst of all because she got me by surprise she hoisted a decent bit of my dress up and all my colleagues saw least a good portion of my cheeks, framed tastefully by the the red velvet and vanilla cake options on the dessert table behind me.

My company handled it really well – called a car for her to go home, followed up with me then and there, and had separate meetings with us on Monday, as the party was on a Friday evening. Her intentions were honestly good (if not soaked in alcohol) and given the weekend I was beginning to find it funny that I’d effectively mooned all the higher ups and they had to be professional about it, so in the end I think she just went through some sensitivity training. She was also MORTIFIED, apologized nonstop for the next week, etc. I’m no longer at that job but what an intro to the world of Corporate Christmas Parties.”

  1. The Christmas countdown

“I once had a coworker who lodged a complaint with her manager’s manager that her manager was making her take her hours to Christmas countdown (yes hours, not days) off a whiteboard that was needed for something else. Wasn’t even like it was the week before Christmas at that point, pretty sure it was at least a month before. She was getting up and changing it a few times a day.”

  1. The mushroom casserole

“My first ever work holiday party (for a elementary school, at the principal’s house) was crazy. I had gone back and forth over whether or not it was appropriate to bring a bottle of wine along with our potluck contribution. I decided not to. Our admin was already drunk when we arrived. Throughout the night several people got very drunk, another teacher hit on my partner in front of everyone, and my coworker’s spouse got into a weird argument about dogs with the principal. One guest had brought a mushroom casserole, which he admitted was entirely foraged from the woods by the school- after everyone had eaten it. The highlight of the night was a preschool teacher’s husband dropping his pants to show off an almost life-size, full color tattoo of the cast of a certain Netflix original scifi 80’s show. The inebriated admin disappeared halfway through the party and from what I heard spent the night in the principal’s ’s bed (she was away at college). If anyone from said school is reading this, I’m sorry for spilling the beans, and I had a GREAT time 🙂

  1. The frozen boobs

“One time I worked at a government agency where the head of HR was a reformed alcoholic who had found religion and was thus now very religious whilst also being teetotal. Every year before the party we’d get an email about how employment law the party was an extension of the workplace and bad behaviour would not be tolerated, etc. etc. She wasn’t very well liked in the office for other reasons but no one hated her and often she didn’t come to the parties as she found them too rowdy.

The year her marriage broke up she came and got so drunk at the party she flashed her boobs over the metal railings of this rooftop bar we were at…..and because of the snow/light rain the side of one of her boobs fused to the railing (kinda like if you lick something frozen and your tongue gets stuck!). Seeing her two (female!) HR admins blowing on her boob to release it whilst shielding her modesty with scarves is a sight that will never leave me.”

  1. The holiday party tears

“Our Christmas party planning (once again) ended in tears over an argument about whether body-part-shaped gummy candy was an appropriate table decoration. It was apparently Halloween candy (think bloody zombie arms and legs).

For reasons which I dare not know, there is a contingent of people in my department who all have strong personalities, strong opinions, and no chill. Everyone hates each other, but they all must be on the various party planning committees. Our fall potluck was simultaneously ‘sports jersey,’ ‘Halloween,’ and ‘Richard Nixon’-themed because I accidentally ended up in and did not have the energy to veto anything.”

  1. The unintended message

“When I first started college I got an on-campus job so I mainly worked with other students. As an 18-year- freshman, I was the youngest person there, and most of the other student workers were between 3-5 years older than me. There was a guy Fergus who was one of the older student workers and I remember thinking that he was very cool and I was much less worldly than he was. He had mentioned going camping several times so I also was impressed that he was outdoorsy (I was easily impressed at the time, and clearly pretty sheltered).

We would all attend the same parties and one weekend Fergus was having a birthday party and he invited everyone from work. I was excited to be invited to the party and went to get him a birthday present. Since I was too young to buy a bottle of wine and didn’t have a lot of I went to a store that sold novelty shot glasses because that was the only thing I could think of.

I saw a shot glass that said ‘I Hunt Beaver’ with a picture of a beaver on it and since I was so naive and sheltered I took it at face value and thought it was perfect because he was into “the outdoors” and I assumed that meant hunting. This was also during the time that everyone had “vintage” t-shirts that had random expressions. I did NOT know the other lewd and true meaning of the statement.

So I bought that obscene shot glass and gave it to him at the party in front of people. I remember he looked a bit perplexed but I didn’t think anything of it until another coworker told me what it meant and I was so mortified that I really don’t even remember much about that night afterward and I was too embarrassed to explain to him. I think I avoided him at work for a good two months afterward. Shudder.”

  1. The mistaken gift

“At my first job, we had a secret Santa and my friend drew my name. On the day of the event, he accidentally brought his boyfriend’s gift instead of the one for me. We get to the point where folks are opening gifts and he realizes his mistake. He literally tackled me like he was jumping on a grenade to stop me from opening the gift. The gift was a holiday themed butt plug. He explained, apologized, and brought my gift the next day.”

  1. The brush

“So my supervisor and his wife are known for the big annual holiday party they host at their home: great food, great booze, and lots of interesting conversations/stories/gossip (academia). For the first two years I worked with them I had missed their party to visit my inlaws for the holidays, but the third year the party was held a week early so I was able to go with my husband. Now, all of the people I work for and with are really nice to start with, so we were given a warm welcome and glass of wine as soon as we walked in the door. THEN everyone learned that it also happened to be my birthday that day, and pretty much EVERYONE decided they needed to bring me a drink or do a shot with me to celebrate. I got hammered pretty quickly. Fortunately, my husband was there to be my designated driver and keep an eye on me while I gave a passionate speech about how much I loved my job, and had one of those ‘You’re so amazing! No YOU’RE so amazing! I love you so much! No, I love YOU so much!’ conversations with a similarly smashed colleague. I then discovered my supervisor’s ancient and adorable golden retriever, shouted ‘Somebody get me a brush for this !’ and spent the last hour or two (?) of the evening and brushing him, telling my boss that I was going to kidnap his (I didn’t) and that this was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER! Not gonna lie, it is still, in fact, one of my favorite birthdays.”

  1. The bootleg CDs

“In the mid-2000s, I was a receptionist for the C-level suite. For some reason, the exec who was in of holiday gifts for staff that year decided I needed to help them instead of their assistant. I was directed to make bootleg copies of Josh Groban’s Christmas album, complete with a custom sticker on the CD and CD case with our company logo and ‘Happy Holidays!’ on it for every one of our employees. I created the sticker and case artwork and sent it over to exec for approval. They decided they wanted to make their own… using WordArt and such. It was awful.”

. The rare books department

“I’ve changed up a couple of details from this being super recognizable, but I used to work in a rare books department in a library. People who work in rare books tend to have pretty esoteric passions that lead them there, and these were always on full display at said party. My favorite selections from over the years:

-The brand new head of the department wanted to show off a bit at his first Christmas party, give a speech… and sing ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ with his 21-year-old, fresh out of college secretary. I was on the party planning committee and tried to veto it politely by asking an HR assistant (also on the committee) who sang part-time in a professional choir if he’d prefer to lead everyone in some secular holiday songs instead, but the secretary thought I was insulting her singing ability, angrily told me that she’d been singing since she was a , and burst into tears. The meeting then awkwardly ended.

(In the end, we printed out the lyrics to ‘Let It Snow’ and had a very, very bad a cappella sing-along after the bar had been open for a while.)

-Staff members made medieval hot possets based on a recipe found in a book in the library. Possets are basically cream, egg, spices, and white wine. I didn’t care for the taste since the medieval palate is very different from the modern one, but others did, and didn’t realize how much wine was in the recipe. One of the fellows I only vaguely knew by sight got extremely drunk. He broke the thermostat off the wall, looked at it confusedly, and then in what I can only describe as ‘a Mr. Bean-esque fashion’ stuck it back on the wall. Surprisingly it held there long enough for me to fetch facilities.

-I wasn’t here for this one, but after the posset incident, I heard about a previous party where staff members decided to make a Victorian flaming punch bowl, one where you mix of bunch of different spirits together and stick a cone in it, then set the cone on fire. Fire, , and the Victorian equivalent of a Long Island Iced Tea? What could go wrong?

Quite a bit! As soon as they set the cone on fire, the whole thing went up in a FWOOM of flame and the curtains behind the punchbowl caught fire. I always got different answers about what happened next– either the sprinkler system went off, or someone fetched the emergency fire extinguisher from the break room, or possibly both– but that staff party ended very early, and with no one eating or drinking anything.”

. The incident

“One year, after an (I thought) perfectly normal Christmas party, we received a company-wide email stating that alcohol would now be banned at company events due to “the incident.” I asked around, and it turned out that one of the guys from another department, who everyone had assumed had just left early, had actually… not done that. Instead, his supervisor noticed that his car was still in the parking lot two hours after he’d ‘left,’ and gotten concerned. She eventually found him passed out on the floor in the breakroom, naked.”

. The rescued rib

“My office had a fancy holiday party that had a huge table of sushi and other fancy finger-food appetizers. Enough to feed an army, and constantly replenished by the catering staff. Well…

Someone dropped a barbecue short rib appetizer on the floor, sauce-side down. That person walked away and grabbed a fresh one from the table. A different coworker came along, saw the floor-food, picked it up AND ATE IT like it was the most normal thing in the world.”

HippieChick58 9 Nov 24
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4 comments

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1

I only ever attended one of my company Christmas parties (the last one, as it were, in 2019). And even so, I made sure not to consume any alcohol. Not because I thought I would do anything rowdy or stupid (that will come back to haunt me on YouTube), but more because i'm afraid of experiencing its truth serum property right in front of all my least favored managers and co-workers.

Now, if they were to be serving some low dose cannabis beverages on the other hand (like Houndsmooth & Soda, Baker Street & Ginger or even some Houseplant sparkling water!), then that's a different story.

1

Splendid!

5

Tell you what. I really don't miss the company holiday parties.
Most of them were a series of bad things just waiting to happen.

1

Glad I never worked in the corporate world and I have been able to avoid most of this organizational holiday bullshit behavior during my working years. When I was working, I mostly treated these holiday work parties as optional and remained sober at every one, always remembering that none of these people were my friends, esp. supervisors and management, and that they would gladly stab me in the back as casually as breathing. Some people are just too stupid or naive to recognize that, and behave accordingly.

So glad to be retired and never again deal with any of that bullshit like co-workers and bosses.

I gotta tell ya, since I have to work, I love, love, love working from home. I don't "know" any of my coworkers, only met a few face to face. I have seen a few on camera. No office politics, no office drama, no turf wars. I do have to say, current employer is the healthiest culture I have ever worked in, it is uber friendly, uber helpful, and OMG I feel valued and heard. That has not been my experience in some of my previous jobs.

@HippieChick58 Glad to hear you finally found a good employer and that you can ride that one into retirement.

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