Saturday, September 27, 2003

Employee Appreciation Day Party. Woot Woot

First and Foremost: Robert Palmer. Again I see that the scythe of death has received little rest since mowing down the two Johns a few weeks ago. Most recently Robert Palmer met his maker, and I have a short anecdote about him.

I never liked him.

I didn't know of his existence until the "Addicted to Love" video came out back in the 80s with the humanoid "lady" musicians behind him in what is now a pop-culture icon. It has been parodied, and applauded. I thought it was revolting. And he didn't look the least big convincing as a man who would be happy to be surrounded by "gorgeous" women like that.

But the song itself was of interest.

I worked in a restaurant when I was in college. Doug and I both did, together... along with Boston Herald writer Eric Convey and my roommate from college. We had a lot of fun there. Doug and I were dating when we got hired, but after a couple months, we'd broken up. We were still on good terms, sometimes driving to work together. Some people knew, others did not.

One of the other guys who worked there was named Bob. Bob Davis to be exact.

He was the pot washer. And he'd stand out back, washing pots, singing and talking to himself. He would do this David Letterman-esque show opening thing that always cracked my shit right up.

"This is the Bob Davis show! Staring Bob Davis! With special guests.... Bob Davis and Bob Davis!" with studio announcer voice, dragging the Bob out so I can't even spell it without it looking like Boooooooooob Davis!

He would sing to me. And one day he started singing "Gonna have to face it you're addicted to Doug." Little did Bob Davis of the Bob Davis show with special guests Bob Davis and Bob Davis know, that Doug and I had broken up.

I wanted to kick his fucking ass.

He would sing it to me all the time. So much so that I can't hear the song now without hearing Bob's version. RIP, Robert Palmer and thanks for making a song that a crazy guy could make alternative lyrics to and give me a chuckle all these years later.

It isn't even 2 pm and I feel as If I could crawl into bed now and sleep through the night.

Yesterday was the annual employee appreciation day at our office. I was put in charge, as many of you know, and had some guidance from people who were there in the past, but not a lot. Being the new kid there, I felt I had a lot to prove, didn't want the day to be a dud, but especially wanted to have fun myself. Ain't no fun plannin' the party if you ain't gonna have fun. Right?

We were originally set to do this thing August 15th. Everyone whined that it was too early in the season, too many people would be on vacation etc... so we pushed it back to last Friday, when we were visited upon with the remnants of a hurricane, which sucked and caused us to push it back another week. Huzzah.

Thursday I spent a good 3 hours out of the office running around and tying up loose ends for the raffle gifts and decorations. It was nice to be out of the office. I felt uber productive, zipping all over the place in our little VW Passat, filling the trunk with all kinds of crazy crap.

There were six raffle prizes this year. I spent less than 500 dollars on them all.

1. a $50 gift certificate to a really nice eatery in our town
2. a $50 gift certificate to the 99 restaurant chain
3. "Are You Ready For Some Football?" package, with a Patriots T shirt, Sweat shirt, NFL pro football, Pats Beanie Baby, license plate frame, mini monster truck, munchies, soda and beer, all packaged up in a really awesome cooler.
4. "A Little Vino would be Keen-O" package, which consisted of a very unique wine rack, 2 bottles of wine, four wine glasses, a ceramic and cork wine bottle topper for plugging an open bottle back up, glass ornament dangly things to identify who has what glass, and a really nice bottle opener.
5. "Make it a Blockbuster Night" package, 30 dollars in Blockbuster gift cards, popcorn buckets that you throw in the micro, a gift certificate to Dominoes Pizza, and 2 bottles of coke/diet coke
6. "Frou-Frou for You You" package, which was about 90 bucks worth of really nice smelly crap from Bath & Body Works, in a gorgeous metal mesh basket.

Keep in mind, I thought those all up by myself. I ran them past my boss and A, both liked them and were encouraging towards me for my decisions. So, I went out and blew a wad of company sanctioned money.

I bought tablecloths, huge buckets to put ice and soda in, picked flowers from my church garden and put them in these really cheap dollar store bud vases that I got yesterday... everything looked awesome, it was so cool.

When it was time to start putting all of this together in June, I picked the caterer (Cateringman, of course) and didn't even bother calling around to get quotes and menus from other rackets. I knew what I wanted and knew where to go. I wasn't about to call all over the place and waste my time.

I kind of got grilled by A for that. I told her I was certain this was the best deal, everyone said the food the year before sucked and I know a caterer that does the best damn job on earth so shut up.

Well, I didn't say shut up. I wanted to. But I didn't. I called around, got quotes, and basically ended up just staying with my first choice. A was impressed with the price they were giving us, which made me feel good. See, I know what I'm doing [grin].

I told Cateringman we had a large ethnic population, so he specialized a menu for me, and added moros y cristanos (rice and black beans) in addition to the basic pasta/potato salad, and did a really spicy Jamaican Jerk chicken in addition to the regular BBQ action. He also waived the labor fee (nice, a 200 dollar savings right there) and from my personal experience in working for them I knew for a fact they were the best.

The "ethnic" guys, our Hispanic and Cambodian populations, were really happy with the food. They were thrilled to see something other than basic burgers and dogs. A had wrinkled her nose at it when I showed her the menu, but I tell ya, some good spicy-assed rice and chicken made these guys so happy, like we were paying attention to where they were from. Sometimes it is so easy to make someone's day by doing something inclusive, even if it is outside your comfort zone.

Here's how the day went:

Morning dawned with a rainstorm. I woke up to the sound of the rain and was rather confused... and pissed. Last time I'd checked it was supposed to be partly cloudy, not partly pouring!

It was 6:30am, I took the dogs out, and got all the things out of the hatch of the VW that I picked up the day before. Got the buckets ready for soda and ice. Had it all under control. Nice and organized.

I left to take the kids to school, and realized our volleyball was in the VW. See, I had taken the volleyball home to swing by my kids' gym teacher's office in the morning and get some air pumped into it. "Wilson" was a little flat..." So Wilson was on the passenger's seat. Not in the hatchback with all the other things I bought.

And the passengers seat of the VW was long gone as Doug was heading to Connecticut. Of all the things to leave in the car. Oh my GOD! Why the hell wasn't he in North Andover or Medford! Why Connecticut. Crap Crap Crap!!!!

In my getting ready at zombie thirty a.m., I didn't take the damn thing out of the car, and it was probably in... Sturbridge MA by that time. Shit shit fuckity fuck. I dropped Geoff off at his class and ran down to the gym looking for Mr. Gym Teacher. Not there. Ran to the office to ask where he might be. The secretary (who, by the way, needs tact lessons) looked at me like I was a retard and said "he's on hall monitor duty somewhere." So I put a visitor tag on and went up and down all the halls. Didn't find him. Went back to her and asked if she had any other ideas where he might be. "I don't know. How about his office." Where's his office? "By the gym."

Thanks. I guess I could have figured that one out. Okay.

I went to his office, the door was open, he wasn't there. I saw a woman hanging around the hall at the other end and asked her if she'd seen him, as there were car keys and a thermos of coffee on the desk.

I discovered that he was out and she was the sub filling in for him. I explained my situation to her. I asked to borrow a volleyball for the day. She was hesitant but told me to go ask the front office.

So I did. Back to the office.

The secretary, sick of me at this point, sick of my stupid questions, told me "Oh, I just found out Mr. Gym teacher has a sub today." Yeah, no shit Ms. On Top Of Everything, I found that out myself. Thanks. I asked for permission to borrow a volleyball.

Tactlessly as usual, the secretary made a face at me like this was the dumbest question ever asked. "Sure, yeah, go ahead, whatever," was her response. Thank you, have a nice day, go back to polishing your fingernails and disconnecting people. Have a good weekend.

I went back to the gym, confirmed the verbal permission, got a volleyball and took off to the office at warp speed, having wasted close to 20 minutes in the missing volleyball snafu. I got to work, I'm cursing and laughing at myself for forgetting the volleyball and it is still raining.

I knew I had less than two hours to do some morning work and to wrap the gifts, load the rest of the stuff into my truck, and get to the park to meet the table/chair rental people.

I check my messages. I never ever have messages in the morning.

My boss left a voicemail telling me she was ordering balloons and would I pick them up when I went to buy ice, the place was right next door to the grocery store. Check. Got it.

My boss left another voice mail "I'm picking you up coffee." Great, check. Super super, I can enjoy that along with the coffee I picked up for myself after the volleyball odessey

Another voice mail "Okay, I've gone to seven stores looking for cellophane wrapping paper, no one has it. I'm going to try another place and I'll be in." Great, okay.

I get a call from someone I've been waiting to hear back from all week to go over legal policies and drug testing, so she gabs on and on for a half hour. It was important, I was glad to have finally heard back from her but shit. Why not yesterday or the day before?

Another voicemail from my boss while I'm on the phone -- she suggests we call the table/chair guys and get a tent, seeing as it is still raining.

I call the table/chair guys and they are just about to leave to deliver for me, so I'm lucky I catch them. They throw in a 20 x 40 tent, which sounds WWAAAAYYYY too big to me, but, it's the smallest size I can get where they will assemble it for me and I don't have to.

I figure, I don't know who is going to meet me over at the park for set up, so I'd better invest in the assembled-by-others size.

I call Doug and he's in the Hartford, CT area. I ask him how the passenger in the front seat is doing. He got to Lowell and realized it was there, and wondered if I realized he had it, but he was too far away to turn around and come back to give it to me by then if he was going to make it to work on time. I assured him that his resourceful wife handled it and got a substitute from the substitute.

My boss comes in, she and I wrap the gifts. We both are going fast and having fun, and I say to her that if A was there she'd probably be having a cow and making me INSANE. So as much as I love her I am relieved she's not there. My boss laughs and laughs and says "Uh, YEAH! totally true." A would have had everything wrapped 3 months ago. But that's just not my staaahhhhyyylllllleeeeeee, you know? Feel me? Yeah.

We wrap everything, I run to my desk, buy 2 BNL tickets for the Orpheum show on October 21, thank you very much. They're balcony seats which sucks ass but... at least they weren't sold out. This was 7 minutes after they went on sale. Fuck! unbelievable!

I run over to meet the table/chair/TENT guys. They're late. Incredibly late. I'm sitting there burning the minutes that I could be over at the market getting ice or picking up balloons or back at my office doing a little work. I figure there are two things that guarantee them showing up. I could go to the bathroom or sit down to eat a meal. That always works at home when I'm waiting for someone to call. I go sit on the can, the phone rings. I put a fork to my mouth, the phone rings.


There's the bathroom, so I go in and sit down and ... there's the truck. Excellent.

The tent guys help me figure out where is best to stick the tent. Seeing as I've never run one of these before and don't know where they've put the tables in the past, I have no clue where to do set up. I'm totally guessing.

So I pick a spot away from the ball field and volleyball court, but I could have had them set up right in between. But there's a stiff breeze coming off the pond. Would people whine? Would the catering truck be able to get down there? Oh the decisions.

They start unloading and setting up the tent, I ask if it's okay if I bail on them and run the last of my errands. They're fine with that.

I run to the office, my boss is in a meeting with the plant manager and Executive VP of Everything discussing the situation we've been dealing with for the past week with the incident in the plant. I decide not to bother her and update her, I load the raffle gifts into truck.

The EVP and plant manager come out of my boss' office as I'm getting ready to go down to the basement with a hugeassed dolly, and offer to give me a hand. They load up the sodas. I don't bother to go back in and update my boss. Time is precious. I go get ice. I get the balloons. I tear over to the park.

It is now noon. The party starts in 15 minutes.

Some of the guys from the plant are there, and they are waiting for me (so now I look like I'm the late one. How funny is that!) They start setting up the tables and chairs.

We got 24 oblong 8' tables, which just barely all fit under the tent. We have 124 chairs. One of the guys looks at everything and says "this many people aren't going to show up!" and I shrug my shoulders and say "well, that's exactly what we got last year. I'm just going with what we had in history."

The guy tells me that maybe 75 people came last year.

That I didn't know.

So... we set everything up anyway. My boss shows up and does the balloons. We throw some tablecloths onto the serving table and the table where the raffle gifts are going. We get the place pretty. Cateringman shows up. The gig is underweigh.

And everyone shows up, starts playing games, volleyball, softball... one woman chides me because I said I'd bring UNO cards and I forgot. I said, "Dude, I said I'd bring the volleyball and I forgot!" Everyone laughs.

We run around and take pictures. The Executive VP of Everything stands up to give a speech to the masses, letting them know that it was a tough year, but things have gone great this last quarter and everyone rules.

There isn't an empty chair under the tent. Everyone came.


Except for the people who were already out on vacation, like A and a co-worker who lost her mom this week... and the President's Secretary, who chose not to come because she had work to do.

Like we all didn't have work to do. Whatever.

I go pick up my kids and miss the speech, where the EVP praises me for all the work I did, declares it "Best Employee Appreciation Day Ever," and I get a big fat round of applause. In absentia.

All told, I received more compliments yesterday about the job done than I've received praise for anything else in my life.

Even that EVP guy shook my hand, thanked me, and gave me flowers. This guy is a very tough nut to crack, a very hard person to read. Seems to have absolutely no sense of humor and no patience. But. The man bought me flowers. (actually, I do believe my Boss bought the flowers, but the handshake and thanks came from him).

He made eye contact with me for the first time in six months (recall if you will my long-ago post about executives having no interpersonal skills and how it pisses me off and you'll know exactly how I feel about this guy).

He told me that he can't wait to see what I've got in store for Christmas. Greeaaaaaat.

And now you know why I'm exhausted.

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