Memories of Christmas office parties past

How would you feel if these parties were scrapped?

In Summary

• Having a few drinks on the company's dime can work wonders on people's inhibitions

A view of Nairobi city at nigh
A view of Nairobi city at nigh
Image: AFP

The office Christmas party. In the last 30 years, I've been to my fair share of these functions. Some willingly, some because my employer insisted or my position as head of department required that I set an example. 

Office parties are a strange affair. At least for me, they are. When you work in an office doing a 9 to 5, you generally spend more time with your workmates than you do with your friends, lovers, loved ones, family and so on. In the long run, it helps if your workmates become your friends. 

At the very first office Christmas party I attended, I was still fairly new at the company, but I had already made some firm friends. That said, I didn't know everyone and had yet to experience the Jekyll and Hyde effect alcohol had on some of my workmates. 

I would learn very quickly. Some hitherto very quiet and almost unremarkable colleagues would become the life and soul of the party once they'd had a few drinks on the company's dime.

Two colleagues in particular got into fisticuffs over the affections of a third colleague, who it turned out appeared to have no interest in either drunken suitor. Their antics were the talk of the newsroom well into the new year.

This all happened before the #MeToo era. In fact, in 1989, the term hashtag would have meant nothing to anyone in that group. 

Some years later, I recall another normally silent colleague (it's always the quiet ones) who decided as he would soon be made redundant, he had nothing to lose by unburdening himself on the boss. 

The fact that she was new to the unit was neither here nor there for him. She represented the corporation's top brass and after a couple of decades of silent service,  the fellow had some stuff to get off his chest with as little help from the amber nectar supplied by the good people in Ruaraka. 

The poor boss was so taken aback when she was cornered and then forced to be the recipient of a barely coherent rant, complete with splutter and spilt beer, that she had no words. It was left to other colleagues to hustle our man away.

When he next showed up at the office, he claimed complete memory loss and thought everybody was pulling his leg.

The following year, the boss made a brief appearance and then, having burnt her fingers once before, disappeared before anyone could be influenced by Dutch courage and corner her again. Also by this time, there were very few of the staff who drank alcohol at the unit.

With the trend of people working remotely picking up in more and more industries, I'm beginning to think that the office Christmas party may soon become a thing of the past. 

Those who find such forced merriment a chore may celebrate this development, but the part of me that still likes the occasional party would find this a sad thing. How do you feel about it?