With Christmas fast approaching its "gearing up" time for the annual "Jul Fest" or Office Christmas Party. To be honest, I don't really have time for it this year. I'm pretty tired from the heavy workload of the past 6+ months and, frankly, on Fridays I just want to go home. But I do have good work colleagues (for the most part) and I should make a bit more of an effort to be sociable with them. I'm ALMOST at the point now where I know who everyone is and what they do. Not that easy when we work in fairly isolated groups. This Friday we are off to my wife's Christmas party. Her company is always much more organised when it comes to these events and always books well in advance to ensure a good venue etc. My company on the other hand tends to operate in a constant mild state of panic with very little forward planning. Case in point a couple of days ago. I noticed one of my co-wokers struggling with our large plan copying machine which sits in a room directly across the corridor from my room. Curiosity got the better of me and I went to investigate. t turned out that the machine had run out of paper and he was trying to find the replacement rolls. We soon figured out that there were no rolls left, except for one which was suspiciously labelled "Transport Damaged". Translated into practical terms that meant that instead of being a round roll of paper, this one was almost square. I guess that Transport Damaged is a loose term for "Run Over By The Delivery Truck". Anyway, with no alternative solution in sight, we set to it with a hammer and some stomping. With the paper roll now roughly round we jammed it into the machine and hoped for the best. Out of pure dumb luck, it actually worked. So that bought us a few days grace. Then I started hunting around for who it was who was responsble for ordering more paper. Turned out that, surprise, surprise, no one was. That had been a designated person, but she left the company in 2011, which I presume was the last time that anyone ordered copying paper. Ridiculous for a company which makes it's money out of producing engineering plans and documents. Anyway, I ended up calling the supplier myself and between us we worked out what our usual order was. So that's typically the way my company works.
On Friday we're all travelling down to Piteå for dinner and a show. That's the most popular type of party for larger organisations. We two have decided that we'll stay the night there, instead of having to drive a couple of hours back home at the end of a long day and evening. The rest can go back home the same night on the private bus. The Friday following, it's the turn for my company. Same deal, with a dinner and entertainment, but, due to the last minute booking that my company is famous for, it's not at the same level of establishment. Again we're going to take our own car so that we can leave when we feel like it and also because we have a little further to commute than most of the other attendees.
This year there is a key difference with the invitation from my company. For the first time, they are inviting partners. My wife's company has always included partners to their functions, while mine has not. I have always felt that is a huge mistake as partners contribute to an employees ability to work, and should be recognised as such. My company has suffered a bit of an internal confidence crisis this year, which may explain the sudden change of heart and an attempt by senior management to be a bit more human. Whatever the reason, I think it is a smart and correct decision. While I know most of my wife's direct work colleagues quite well, she know almost nothing about mine. We meet occasionally at the airport for 5 minutes when she drops me off for a work travel trip, but that's typically about it. It will be nice for her to spend some time with the people that she hears me complaining about every day. And for them to get to know her. For me, work is a necessary evil. If I didn't have to work, I'd be gone tomorrow. But, until that day, work can't help but influence my moods etc. Therefore I think it's important that partners have the opportunity to gain an insight into our working worlds in order to understand why it is that we sometimes feel or react the way that we do.