HomeEditorial CommentTales of the office Christmas party

Tales of the office Christmas party

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CHRISTMAS is now upon us, or something similar. Like what my friend Aphiri always said, “complications” of the new season. The supermarkets and the malls lead a reluctant pack in decorating their premises with bunting Christmas tree, mistletoe and blaring carols over the public address system.

If you happen to work for someone or some company and they are doing reasonably well, then the Christmas party becomes a necessary evil if not to boost the boss’s ego. However, no matter how hard people may try, people are not at their best behaviour at these functions.

In fact, the antics of some will be the talk of the office months to come. I speak with some authority because once upon a time I could sniff out a good party miles away. A friend used to keep a diary of functions being held within the radius.

The office Christmas party is the only occasion when workmates let their hair down and do the unthinkable. Critical in the whole equation is the availability of food, alcohol and music.

Taking a leaf from parties that I have attended and organised (and gate-crashed, of course) I will let you in on the dark secrets.

The party starts innocently enough, with boring speeches and stuff. Then the food is served more to ensure that people do not suffer the excruciating hangover the morning after.

It contains a lot of starch and beef though the woman would prefer rice and chicken. The meat is braaied (barbecued) and prepared according to where one comes from in Zimbabwe.

Those who come from the north and east of the country gocha their meat. The meat is literally tossed into a blazing inferno that would require the Fire Brigade to be on standby. T

he charcoal that is rescued for the flames is then served to those with stomachs lined with asbestos. Then we have those from the west and south abosa their meat. Here the meat is turned over hot coals or charcoal and is taken out with traces of blood still dripping from it.

Bayithanda ilegazi. It’s literally eating a cow alive if you ask me. Talk about cultural diversity.

With the food and dull speeches out of the way, the main business of the day begins. The music is nice and loud and nearly everyone hits the dance floor with a bit of assistance from the local brewery. You see, there are those of us who have never moved a limb in their entire lives only to suddenly leap onto the dance floor with reckless abandon.

When the dancing got frenzied and daring this was when the bosses disappeared. Things tended to get on the nasty side with subordinates picking fights with their superiors for no apparent reason.

It’s not often that I pat my back about something. I can safely yet loudly blow my own trumpet by claiming to have organised the biggest Christmas party ever while I was employed at Dunlop. It was the aftermath that caught people’s attention.

The whole city was littered with bodies of Dunlop employees who in a vain attempt to reach their homes after trying to finish all the booze (which they couldn’t) decided to sleep on the pavements. The city council and the police had a tough time clearing up the human litter.

The worst parties will always be the ones at a university I used to work for. Apart from attempts at pleasing academics who always felt they deserved a raise, their end-of-Year parties were an exercise in futility. You can’t throw a party with two fishes and five loaves of bread. You need a miracle to turn those into wine and song.

The beasts donated for the function had a tendency of disappearing before they found our tables. We never got to find out where the rest of the meat went save to say that good meat usually speaks for itself. (Nyama inonaka inotaura yega) I have to pause by paying tribute to journalists who know how to sniff out a good party. Their beat is the corporate party circuit devoid of limitations to the amounts consumed. One doesn’t have to invite a journalist. They just appear (ngomazivelela) and they do it so unflappably that you would think that they are the ones who organised it in the first place.
Clever organisers always catered for the journalists separately. This tactic has worked for me when I was the PR person for a number of institutions. I recognised the reality that for as long as there are parties, they will be gate crashers . . . and journalists. So we had to live with that.

By far one of the most difficult things to do on earth is to tell journalists the party is over and it’s time to go home. They start quoting your company financial statement to prove that you can afford to give them more drinks, never mind the carpet of opened bottles hidden under their chairs.

Then come the stories that include the section manager being found compromised in the men’s toilet. Or the managing director’s PA who had too many, enough to make her redecorate her lily white dress with a regurgitated version of the day’s menu.

As you count our losses and scandals after a good office party, you lucky dog, we all look forward to a Christmas with friends and relatives. A word of caution, you only live once, so look after yourselves. Drink responsibly and drive carefully because we want you back here next year. Have a fantastic “fistive” season like Aphiri used to say!

 Twitter: @lenoxmhlanga

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