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.