My team of co-workers decided a few weeks ago that a morale boosting evening of drinks and non-work-related conversation were in order. I know at most places of business this tends to be a regularly occurring type of get-together. For this group, though, it is pretty much a once or twice a year type of thing.
Which, as you can imagine, really elevates the awkwardness level. (See graphic for reference).
When I first started here, I obviously had no desire to talk about work at the occasional office-birthday lunch. If you recall, I was also asked out by someone, and then basically hounded by a love-crazed Indian man who just wanted some relationship advice. Those experiences are really what led to my ratcheting up the out-of-office-contact drawbridge and filling the moat with professionalism.
But, almost two years later, now, I spend eight hours a day with these people. I know and like our clients. I know what’s going on in most of my co-worker’s lives, to a certain extent (kids names and their frequent visits to principal’s offices; which ones have choir practice and which work on their boats on the weekends; who works second jobs tending bar; who got the best deals at the tire store… that kind of thing). These personal details only just barely dispel the social tension that permeates the room when we get together in a venue that doesn’t involve a conference table.
It might just be the personality of the Business Analyst. It might be that many of them work 8 hours a day at the office and then check their email until midnight and they’ve warped their minds.
It is possible they are just odd people.
So Friday afternoon around 3:30 saw us all pack up our laptops and head to Julio’s casa for a fiesta. His lovely wife Angelica spent the better part of the day cooking for us, and we were all very grateful for her efforts, and the food, mainly because it allowed us to eat instead of trying to talk to each other. To add to matters of painful interaction, we have two teetotalers in the pack.
Never one to succumb to peer pressure, I snagged a margarita and stuck my beer into the provided cooler. And then I got a big plate of Spanish rice, tortillas, shredded chicken, guacamole, black beans, and whatever else I could find on the table. Whenever there was a lull in conversation (so, every two minutes or so) I would take a sip of my drink or a bite of food.
After a couple of hours of this, I was completely stuffed and totally tipsy.
Julio had more to drink than I, and at the insistence of one of the sober gals, TURNED ON THE KARAOKE MACHINE. I mean, why wouldn’t he?
One impressive fact about all of this is that the karaoke machine’s song catalogue was composed of half English-language songs, and half Spanish selections. Even more impressive was Julio and Claudia’s rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock”, en Espagnol. Daphne sang Diana Ross and Gladys Knight; Melissa sang a Beatles tune; Roger chose the fairly impossible “Love Shack” by the B-52s and I had to screech/wail the girl parts; Mike said he had to go but we forced him into Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon” which was probably a mistake. I reclaimed the microphone for “Bohemian Rhapsody” (backup vocals from Julio) and all the while… this was not getting any less uncomfortable. It is hard enough to muster the confidence to sing your favorite shower-practice song in a loud, crowded bar – so sitting in someone’s living room with your half-dozen half-drunk, half-sober co-workers, singing to a sped up MIDI file, is a profoundly embarrassing and humiliating activity.
But maybe my brain is warped now too, after all the nine-to-fiveing… because I think I actually had fun.