Inspired by a discussion some days ago on Wordnerd's site (pops). My company is growing. Well, morphing and growing. I've only been here 2 years, and I'm already becoming one of the old-timers. The VP that hired me has been sacked. We've hired and fired and lost designers left and right, we've opened 2 new locations, and closed down a design center. That said, our Christmas party hasn't been the same thing twice, and this was my third one with this outfit. Now, I've worked for lots of employers over the years (I'm not a job-hopper, I'm just very flexible), and have experienced many different Christmas traditions. One would take the crew and their dates to a nice dinner and then bowling. We'd all rent fungicidal shoes, pour the beer, and bowl for our bonus. Yes, your Christmas bonus would depend on how well you scored. There was a difference of several hundred dollars between first and last place. At least scores were handicapped so if you suck this year, you get an advantage next year. But, it was an incentive not to drink too much. Smart boss, that guy. Another would give an overwrought, high-falutin', back slapping, long enough to let your glass run dry and your chicken run cold, self congratulating speech during dinner. All 12 of us were supposed to be in worsipful awe of the good fortune we found to work for this guy (he later appeared in a local news investigation for stealing customers' money). This year they rented a hotel conference room and had it catered. Open bar, top shelf stuff. And a table along one wall, end to end, just STACKED with wrapped presents. Everyone got a number on the way in, and since I had a sneaking suspicion of what was coming, I traded numbers with anyone who would. "I got a 13, what'd you get?" Eventually, I wound up with 57. Someone counted noses, and found there were 60 of us. I surreptitiously pumped my fist in the air and hissed, "Yessss!" After dinner and several gallons of liquor were served, our HR chief slurred the rules over the non-functioning PA system. "You go, see, in order. Your number... (hic) Everyone has a number. You take it, and when I call it, you go get a present. At the table. You unwrap it, and hold it up to shee. For everyone to shee. Then you go shit down. Then, whoever goes next can get a new present, off'n the table. Or steal yours. Okay. Who's nummer one?" Everyone got to open or steal something. There were boxes of chocolate with scratch-off lottery tickets, smelly candles, little tool kits, and home knick-knacks. None of that stuff got 'stolen'. But then there were gift packs of Irish Cream Liqueoor, a case of Corona, a fancy pants desk lamp, and bottle of Grey Goose vodka with a tall, blue martini glass. That stuff got stolen multiple times, to the cheering and groaning of the whole room. The most popular item? A No-Burst Exercise Ball. One middle-aged executive wife stamped on the floor and almost threw a fit right there when a young office assistant swiped it. "Look at my fat ass! Why does a skinnybutt, 18 year old... GIRL need that?!?" I thought she was going to start sobbing and getting snot in her martini over it. Good times. I scored an MP3 player, which I was happy to keep. Our IT guy went after me, and when he saw it was an off-brand with only 512MB, he shrugged and went for the outdoor thermometer with birds on it. Toward midnight, the boss closed the bar and said if we wanted to keep partying, the lounge was still open with a live band. Half of us shuffled down the hall and hung out in the smoky haze. My good friend Bill talked the band into letting him & me sit in with them (we've been in bands together for years, he's a phenomenal drummer and I play bass). Between the initial conversation and mid 3rd set when they invited us up, Bill consumed about 230% of his capacity for vodka. We got through Some Kind of Wonderful without a hitch, but when they started Walk This Way, I knew things were going awry. First of all, Bill was pausing between measures to keep himself on the seat. Second, I'd never played the song before. No problem, the crowd was about as sloppy as the rest of us. Bill wound up riding home with us. That was interesting enough for its own story.