I work for a company that I co-founded back in 1996. It’s not a big company. Between 20 and 30 people. So, with the exception of a couple sales guys who live in the territories they cover, everyone interacts with everyone else in the company every day. So I’ve never quite understood why we need to have company events. But I’m the CTO, not the CEO. And the CEO thinks it’s something we need to do, and I trust his judgement.
I hate these events. I hate them with a passion.
Sometimes they will be in the middle of the work day, in which case I hate that they are keeping me from getting work done. It’s not like there is less work in the day because we are having this event. Just fewer hours in which to do the work that needs to get done.
Sometimes they will be after work, in which case I hate that I’m being kept from my beautiful wife and annoying kids and comfortable couch and a delicious cocktail.
The events are planned by the “fun” committee. I have to put the word fun in quotes for obvious reasons. Off the top of my head, I’ve had to suffer through bowling, company dinners, miniature golf, picnics, wine and cheese tastings, and apple picking. Fucking apple picking. So let’s examine some of these in more depth.
Bowling. We are based in Massachusetts. That means we get to suffer through an abomination of bowling called “candle pin.” This was invented back in 1880 in Worcester, MA by a bowling alley owner who wanted to cut back on the number of people he had to employ setting up pins between frames. You throw a small ball, the pins are skinny, they just leave the knocked-down pins in the way between throws, and there are three throws in a frame. No, I’m not making this up. When you talk to someone in MA about bowling, they think this is what you are talking about. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a fan of real bowling either. But at least that’s a game of skill. Candlepin “Bowling” is basically a carnival midway time-waster.
Company Dinners. Since we’re small, we can afford to go to decent restaurants, so I can’t complain about that. But the social dynamics of a small company are quirky. You basically have the young kids, who hang out together all the time anyway. And you have us old execs who have nothing in common with the young kids, and don’t really care about each other’s families and stuff. So what do we talk about? Work. What else is there? Sometimes I’ll regale them with tales of cocktails and infusions and stuff. But other than that, it’s all just work, work, work. Just what I want at the end of a long work day. More work.
Miniature Golf. I play this with my kids. My kids like it. I used to like it when I was a kid. Now it’s tedious.
Picnics. Basically this is just like the company dinner, except we have to drive someplace inconvenient, eat lower quality food, bake in the sun, and chew up perfectly good working hours so we just have less time to get our shit done.
Wine and Cheese Tastings. OK, so this had promise. They went to a fancy cheese store in Boston and got a bunch of interesting hard and soft cheeses. And they bought some cheap-ass wine. I was engaged for like, maybe 15 minutes. Then I had tasted everything there was to taste, and I was stuck talking about — wait for it — work for the next hour as everyone in the room tried to figure out how much longer they needed to stay to meet the minimum social quota.
Apple Picking. Are you kidding me? Why is this a thing? You get to walk deep into an orchard in the hot sun along a dusty path, climb a ladder into a scratchy tree, and look for decent apples from picked-over trees. Who finds this fun? This tradition completely confounds me. Even my kids hate this, and kids like all sorts of annoying shit (see miniature golf, above). After you’ve filled the plastic bag they gave you, you get to hike back to the store for a cider donut and some cider. The cider donuts are awesome. But really, I could have just gone to the store and bought one and skipped all the rest of this nonsense, couldn’t I? Fucking apple picking.
I don’t know if I’m the only person who hates these events, or just the only person who has an anonymousish blog where they can vent about it. I’m pretty sure the “fun” committee isn’t having any fun coming up with these ideas. And doing everything they can to ensure everyone actually shows up. I’d feel sorry for them, except they really could just say no, and quit the damn committee, and then we wouldn’t have to do this stuff anymore because nobody would be planning it.
A boy can dream, can’t he?