Thursday, October 28, 2004

Another party, a bit of ranting, barbecue and "the revelation"

For somebody who is a self proclaimed anti-social I seem to be attending a lot of work related parties lately. Just the other week, our department scheduled a welcome dinner for the 2 new guys that will be joining us in the department (the *German guy* who just left was their previous manager so they will be reporting to my boss). This get-together was also supposed to be an opportunity for the department to do some "bonding", whatever that means. The invitations (actually it was an MS Outlook meeting request) were sent out early the previous week and everything was set. On the day before the event, an urgent e-mail popped in my Inbox informing me that the party is hereby moved that very same day at 6pm. I don't know about the rest of my colleagues but I wasn't too thrilled about this sudden change in schedule. Call me a bit anal but I do get upset most of the time when things don't go according to plan. The reason why I was really pissed off however is more than that. I felt that these people (who made the decision) doesn't have any consideration whatsoever of our personal space. We could have had other plans for the night (and in fact 4 people in the group did) and they didn't even bother asking us. It's a feeling that the company owns my time after office hours and that's what I hate the most. I didn't really have any plans that night and I was just going to watch some anime on cable but that's not really the point. My own time after office hours, including weekends is sacrosanct and I expect the people I work for should respect that. I have nothing against these types of activities. As a matter of fact I think the workplace should have more after office interaction to promote teamwork and camaraderie but not in a way that it feels like it's being rammed in our collective throats. As it turns out the actual reason why it was moved is so idiotic that I wouldn't bother talking about that here.

Anyway enough of that, I digress. The night didn't look particularly promising for me and to make matters worse, a meeting I had that was scheduled right after lunch was moved to 4-6pm. That meant that I didn't even had the time to go to my flat first to freshen up (and more importantly, configure my video capture card on my computer to record that anime episode).

The meeting ended around 10 minutes past 6 p.m. One of my colleagues was already at the designated place (he was trying to reach me through my mobile phone) and was beginning to doubt if he remembered the venue correctly. I went there straight from the office and we just spent the time reading the newspaper waiting for the others to arrive. That's another thing I noticed at parties. Everybody seems to be fashionably late and I still haven't figured out the right timing for this sort of thing.

The place was called "Bay View". It's called that because it's the highest place in the compound and one could see the harbour a few miles further on a clear day. I suppose it is a nice enough place if you could actually see anything. The sun sets early this time of year and the glare of overhead spotlights illuminate a spot of grassy area just next to us obscuring most of the view ( a lone golfer was practicing his putting skills a few meters away). People started to arrive. I was extremely hungry at this point that I was feeling a bit light-headed. Thankfully, the food was also served a few minutes later - barbecue and pasta.

The food was ok I guess. At this point I wasn't really too concerned about that. All I know is that I am extremely hungry and I need food! Unfortunately there were also a lot of bugs flying around so I had to eat a bit more carefully than I wanted. This is to eliminate the accidental ingestion of bugs - definitely not a pleasant experience!

After dinner it was time to play games or group dynamics as they would like to call it. The first activity was charades. We were told to divide into 2 groups and to act out movie and song titles. Our group won the first event. It was relatively easy and during my turn, I acted out "The little mermaid", "Tayo'y mag Ocho-ocho" (This was easy. All I had to do was to put my hands on my knees with my butt sticking out and... well, I will spare you the details but I could guarantee you that it is a lot more wholesome than it sounds), and Superman (another easy one).

After the charades, the sing along video machine was fired up and the singing contest -- which is almost like a tradition in these parts -- officially started. The same grouping was maintained and we were to sing a predetermined play list one by one. There were no judges. We relied on the automatic scoring system of the machine. Who knows what's the criteria for the automatic scoring but some people believed that it has something to do with the loudness of the voice or perhaps correct timing. Anyway, trust a bunch of engineers, a couple of IT guys and a chemist to come up with technical solution for the lack of judges - we averaged the individual scores to come up with a team score. We lost by about 0.2 points (maximum score is 99). I was going to suggest a weighted average wherein we multiply each score with our weight and divide the total number with our aggregate weight since I noticed the high scorers on our team were the "heavier" ones but obviously the other team objected. So at the end of the day, the overall result was declared as a tie. this means everybody gets to take home the grand prize! And the grand prize? A gift certificate for the canteen :( Bummer...

After that we just chatted with each other and sang a few more songs. The few songs became a long queue as it became late (I don't recall exactly when the song requests began to pick up but I suspect it was when our boss left early). We left nearing midnight after about 15 or so "last songs" were played and eventually we abandoned the mic and did group singing. My colleagues were so not used to me singing that they were quite literally surprised that I did. One of them kept teasing me that I was the "revelation" for the night and somehow the name stuck. So for the next couple of days, every time they see me at the office they would call me "The Revelation". It was mildly annoying. Fortunately it just went away eventually. Perhaps my pointedly ignoring them when we pass each other in the corridor might have contributed to that? I guess I'll never know.

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