Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Working Stiffs

Round two of layoffs from my company and I’m still employed.



You’ve now had two opportunities to get rid of me (and me getting a nice, long, paid vacation) and you blew it. Too bad, so sad, you’re stuck with me now. At least until the next round.

While I’m still standing another member of my beer o’clock crew has fallen.

Beer o’clock, for the uninitiated, is our semi regular ‘meeting’ of elite, invite only people from around the office that come to my area, share in some bitching, venting and beer consuming. Focus on the beer consuming.

The initial group was actually just three people: myself (of course), my old friend DA and another, annoying admin who barely drank when we had our weekly Friday lunch at JJs. Buffalo chicken wings, several Stellas and many breath mints later we cruised through the last half day of the week in a great mood. Never got old.

After DA left me (I still haven’t recovered) things stagnated for a while. Then we expanded to a floor above the main floor and I got a new office with barely 10 people around me. There was a huge empty office at the vacated end of the floor. Once a refrigerator was placed into the small kitchen around the corner, the pieces were in place.

What quickly evolved was a weekly trip to the liquor store down the street, stocking the bottom vegetable drawer with Stellas and Blue Moons (cause chicks seem to like drinks you put fruit in) and Amstel Lights and Sam Adams, and the best of the best of the office meeting in that large empty office on Friday afternoons to release some steam while ingesting some barley and hops.

Codes were invented to keep the authorities off our trail. The vegetable drawer hiding place renamed beer o’clock to ‘veggie time’ and whenever one of the group was having a tough day an IM would pop up with ‘I’m hungry. May need veggies soon’. Within minutes plans would be made and beers were cracked open like the sound of angel wings rustling in heaven.

Hell, we even had a spot for the bottle opener in case one of us wasn’t around. It wasn’t in a common place where just anyone could get their grubby little paws on it, but was known by all the beer o’clock gang where it would be if needed. And it would be needed often in some months.

The summer slowdown was the best time for veggies. Work slows to a crawl on Fridays every week during the glorious (and much missed) weather which prompted bored club members to spend more time than usual in the large, empty office.

Don’t scoff at us. Don’t view us as outlaws and bad seeds. I’ve made friends for life during beer o’clock. Look at it as a team building exercise. We became closer as coworkers, released some anger and made fun of anyone not cool enough to be in our tight knit gang. It built morale and made working life much more tolerable.

I recommend it wherever I work. It began for me nearly 15 years ago when a client gave me a case of Sam Adams as a tip (best tip EVER). I brought it back to the office and shared it with the rest of the gang. It’s been a staple of my work life ever since. It’s nothing crazy, just a way to kick back and get to know the people you work with in an entirely different setting. Yeah, it’s still work, but the atmosphere is different. People let their guard down and actually show who they are.

I’ve learned more about people during one veggie session then while working with them for 3 years. That’s not an exaggeration, either. Most people project a very different work persona than they do in a relaxed, social setting.

I’ve discovered I work with some very funny, talented, articulate people who share the same feelings about work life as me. I came a hair short of falling head over heels in love with a much younger, beautiful blonde when she blurted out ‘Oh, shit. I have to get back to work’ before downing a nearly full bottle of Stella in 1.2 seconds. She’s been one of my favorite people ever since.

Alas, the veggie days seem to be coming to an end.

DA left for another job, then moved back to California.

KZ moved to New York City.

MF was laid off a few months ago.

AR also moved back to California. (Damn you, California! Stop stealing my friends!!)

AL was laid off yesterday which prompted one last individual beer o’clock.

There are a few left – EF, CS, JR, ML, MS, AL – but they aren’t the gung ho ‘Hey, let’s booze it up while we’re getting paid’ type of people. In other words, they’re conscientious and hard working. The exact opposite of everything I stand for.

Besides, entrance into the veggie club hinges on trust. We don’t want the entire office knowing the secret of Friday afternoons (or Wednesday afternoon. Or Thursday afternoons), therefore only people that we know will be discreet and secretive and funny are invited. We’ve nearly been burned a few times, but those people were quickly and quietly disposed of (I can say no more).

Beer o’clocks will go on. Make no mistake – this is not a tradition I will give up on easily. I just need to find other recruits with enough free time and the proper piss poor attitude to fit in.

One bright note is the week long return of AR. She will be visiting Boston’s crapapalooza of bad weather next week and promises to make a trip in for a big ass beer o’clock celebration. Hell, maybe two or three!!

After that the search to replace my comrades will continue. I can never replace those who have departed, but I will find new disciples to carry forth the good word.

Today’s distraction: You know that guy from the ‘ShamWow’ commercials? Well check out his full story. Is anyone shocked that Scientology is a breeding ground for assholes? Didn’t think so.


Anonymous said...

Hang on now, you get to drink ... at work?!?! It's too bad everyone is getting canned or I'd start packing my things and heading for Boston (with a written referral in hand from you of course).

BeachBum said...

Well, we drink at work. It's not officially allowed, but we like to stick it to the man when we can.

And we get to drink beer while doing so, which is a HUGE benefit.

Hammen said...

That post made me very happy inside. I want a beer now.