The Christmas Frog

Oh. My. God. Will they ever stop?

That thought leads to a worse one. Yikes. Will they never stop?

I knew that my client’s flat-as-pee-on-a-plate organization bred executives like bunny rabbits. I didn’t know that every last one of them was going to speak to the assembled minions and their spouses, partners, friends, and dates-for-the-evening at this year-end party to which I have been graciously invited.

“You’d think they think we think this is worthwhile,” I think.

Executive #15 sits down and executive #16 stands up, although in all the excitement I may have lost the exact count. Dinner is done and so am I. If only the speakers were.

I try to keep my face under control — “impassive” is all I’m aiming for, since “appreciative” and “interested” ceased to be live options about 30 minutes ago — as executive #16 finishes his five minutes of introductory remarks and calls someone up for special recognition.

“What a splendid fellow. What a dedicated employee. What an expert in his field. What a straight shooter. What a hard worker.”

I’ve worked on a project with the fellow being lauded: a good guy, a good employee. In theory, I’m glad for this public recognition. In practice, I’m annoyed that it’s being shoehorned in at the end of a talk-fest that is already overly long, when all everyone wants is for the speechifying to be over.

But finally, it is over: everyone has had their say. Reprieved, the non-executive party-goers quickly lever themselves out of their chairs, stiff from sitting for so long, but afraid to move too slowly in case someone else decides to speak.

As most bolt for the exit, one guy I know works his way across the flow of traffic to where I’m standing.  He has a frog in his pocket. Well, I assume not, but that’s what would account for the look on his face if he were a five-year-old. Sans frog, I wonder what accounts for this mingled mischief and mirth: I, for one, see nothing to be amused about.

Perhaps believing we’ve had enough content-free talk for one evening, he launches without so much as a hey hi, good to see ya, howzit going, or happy holidays.

“Last night we went to my wife’s office Christmas party.”

I nod, but say nothing. I, too, can go minimalist.

“Not one of the senior managers there said a word.”

I wait, silently. He’s close to it now.

“We’re still looking for that Christmas party where the executives say just the right amount.”

He leaves as he came, no extra chit-chat to dilute the moment or to distract from the best gift ever: a reminder that I choose my attitude.

I, too, can carry a frog in my pocket.

Leopard frog in Santa hat


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4 Responses to The Christmas Frog

  1. JimTaylor says:

    I’ll hazard a guess that the Christmas party where there weren’t any speeches was a firm doing better (financially, but also emotionally) than the one with umpteen speeches. That kind of volume of speeches makes me suspicious that the speechifying executives were trying to convince the troops that all was well, and everything was in good hands. It’s a symptom of self-aggrandizement. The other party didn’t need the bombast, because everyone already knew things were on the up and up.
    Just a guess.
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Not an unreasonable guess, given the information provided. It turns out the party I was at was for a company doing pretty well; the other party was for a non-commercial entity. I wondered later whether it was a marketing/extroverted versus administrative/introverted functional and cultural difference – but maybe that just reflects my bias and perceptions, rather than the reality.

  2. Good one — frog in one’s pocket.
    Maybe the next step is PUTTING a frog in the pocket of a boring, stand-up cocktail party’s guest. That would put an even weirder smile on my face.

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