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Office Party Etiquette (Part II)

Office Party Etiquette (Part II)

So it appears that Wall Street, at least, is gonna be cutting back on the holiday partying.  Don’t believe that hype – very few people went to the massive, company-wide parties anyway; the real action is at the smaller group parties that were largely funded by the group heads and whatnot.  Went to several bars last night and the first three were all rocking a holiday party of some kind.  So this shit still matters.  Matters big-time.  Picking up where we left off yesterday…

How To Survive A Holiday Party

6.  Avoid admins like you’d avoid a drooling, possibly armed homeless guy on the subway – As I noted yesterday, the holiday party is generally a big deal for the admins, a chance to let their hair down and dance suggestively with people they work with but barely know.  (Don’t interpret this as a disparagement of admins in general, 95% of the ones I’ve worked with were awesome people who generally made life more tolerable in corporate hell.  Their preparation/anticipation level for the annual party was hilarious, though.)  Of course, the junior bankers will invariably all vie for the most attractive assistant, that’s just science.  But those top-shelf assistants have their eyes on a larger prize (also science).  The non-top-shelf, cougarish assistants would love to make boy toys out of some of the junior folks, but they are resistant due to the potential for peer humiliation.  It’s very Darwinian, there’s some circle of life stuff going on with everyone trying to hook up with someone who’s trying to hook up with someone else, sort of like The Real World: Cancun.  (Note: this is all from a male perspective, for the three females who read this, I think the parties were pretty typical borderline-harassment for the female bankers.  Just another day at the office.)

The biggest problem with hooking up with an admin would obviously be the next day ramifications.  What are you gonna do when you wake up next to the woman who tapes your receipts for your expense reports and books your travel?  You want her to start inquiring why, exactly, you need to go to Atlanta for two days?  The common assumption is that they would jump to the conclusion that you’re suddenly dating/marriage track, but that seems unlikely in today’s progressive society.  The awkwardness of bumping into someone on the elevator who you drunkenly bumped body parts with can only be handled by certain individuals, individuals in possession of a steely resolve and a iron facade.  And the ability to take the taunting that their mates are gonna hurl their way.  Just don’t do it.

Life experience:  I know a lad, let’s call him Xmashangover, who once violated rule number one on this list (he started early).  Later that night, as he was propped up in a corner wearing a jaunty Santa hat, an older, silicone-enhanced member of the administrative pool offered to help him find his way home.  Despite having a son older than Xmashangover, she predictably attempted to take advantage of his inebriated state.  In possession of the required steely resolve and iron facade, xmho dabbled (allegedly) briefly in some juvenile form of the black arts.  Ever the gentleman, he offered her an (expired) subway card to get home.  As the story goes, he bumped into her on the elevator immediately upon arriving at work the next afternoon  (It’s cool to go in at like 4:30 pm the day after the party).  He offered a brief “hey, how’s it going?” followed by an immediate return to a scintillating game of Brickbreaker.  And things were back to normal.  Textbook – but you need the resolve to pretend nothing ever happened and the facade to never let her see you sweat.  And a sense of humor about hooking up with someone older than your own mom.

Guidance:  Ask yourself how you would deal with a face-to-face meeting, alone in the elevator with the temporary object of your affection.  If your face is glowing crimson, then just move on.  Steel resolve/iron facade required.

7.  Don’t criticize anyone’s eating/drinking habits –  Some people that you work with are actually weird as shit.  Often you won’t notice it as you probably spend most of your “leisurely” work hours with people you can actually stand.  At a holiday party you are going to see your broad group of colleagues doing some weird things – “vegetarians” eating some foie gras, morons putting campari in perfectly good glasses of red bull and vodka, overly appropriate table manners, etc.  Even if drunk, don’t focus on their shortcomings, just have another glass of wine.

Life experience:  I recall at my first ever holiday part at TARP Bank II, seeing a young vice president eating a pear with a knife and fork.  He must’ve cut the thing into like 800 pieces, like he was preparing it for a baby bird with a weakened digestive system.  I prudently drew attention to this practice by screaming “haha, this fucking guy is eating a pear with a knife and fork!  Haha, what kind of fucking idiot would eat a pair with a knife and fork!  Maybe a fork, that I could see, as it appears to be a part of a pear tart, but what is the knife for!  It’s a cooked pear!  It’s like warm fucking butter, dude!  What’s the knife for, tough guy?!”

Guidance:  Keep your head down and focus on getting the carbs up, you should be eating like you’re about to run a double marathon.  Don’t pay attention to what others are doing at the table.  During the token “senior guy sits at a table with juniors to make small talk for five minutes before moving on to the next table,” chuckle accordingly when needed, but generally just focus on the task at hand.  Ignore the odd or unhygienic practices you might see.

8.  Avoid mistletoe – Should be absent at most parties, given the paranoia that most people feel about swapping saliva irreverently (Europeans excepted).  Stay away from the office manager with the mistletoe belt buckle.  Wait, is it mistletoe belt buckle, or camel toe/pig knuckle?  Just stay away from that guy, to be safe.

Life experience:  None, thankfully.

Guidance:  See above.

9.  Don’t dance, period.  If you feel that you must dance, please keep the “daggering” moves in your quiver for BLVD – Pretty self explanatory, but quite often violated by junior folks taking a shot at one of the more attractive admins (and sometimes the attractive female bankers – it’s somewhat rare, but happens more than i’ve given the impression of here).  Given the prevalence of camera/video phones, be very aware of the fact that you are going to be on YouTube.  Fuck, this is probably important enough to be its own point.

Life experience:  None, thankfully.

Guidance:  Seriously, stay at the bar, far from the dance floor.

10.  Beware of motherfuckers with cameras – Beyond just dancing, there are myriad other ways to look like an ass: invading someone’s personal space with a lecherous grin, trying to make out with someone vastly embarrassing  (could be due to age, looks, social standing, preexisting STDs, etc.), eating a pear with a knife.  One of the admins will likely be responsible for taking “action” photos of the entire event and will strive to get a good shot of pretty much everybody, so be on guard.

Life experience:  There are some pretty stupid-looking party photos of me floating around, but that’s because I generally look pretty stupid when drunk.  And when at holiday parties, I am generally drunk.  Transitive property.  There are also about 7.3 billion pictures of people looking even stupider, so heed my warnings.  Heed!

Guidance:  My advice here is pretty much the same as in any other situation I can think of: go to the bar, order a drink and then stand around with a dour look on your face.  Go for the classic “case of the Mondays” look and the photogs will keep their distance.

Part III is coming Friday,