Lunch was somewhat awkward today. I brought it on myself, but that is irrelevant.
Some background info: When working in a cubicle farm environment, there is a propensity for “celebrations” to pop up.
Reasons include someone is leaving, moving to a new assignment, the paternity test came back negative, group bonding, etc. Two weeks ago, I received one of these invites. I procrastinated until the last day to RSVP. You see, as a supplier sitting on-site with my customers, I typically try to stay clear of these celebrations. I do this primarily because “it doesn’t feel right” to me to be joining in. I don’t think the customers would think of it the same way, but whatever. But this one was going to be at Johnny Carino’s. And I’ve never been to Johnny Carino’s. That was enough for me. The meeting notice was accepted with no regrets.
Well, those regrets finally worked themselves into a lather while I was driving to the restaurant. It started poorly, as I didn’t know how long it was going to take to get there. I left one minute after I wanted to. Not a big deal, but it just started the Plinko chip of anxiousness caroming down the board. While I nervously chomped on my fingernails and looked at the clock every 15-17 seconds I also realised that I had never actually worked with the person the party was for! Sure, I had seen her around, and she had been in conversations that I was involved in, but there was no direct interaction. Well, crap, this is incredibly awkward.
So, I arrived 4 minutes before it was supposed to start. The polite hostess informs me that I am the only person there from my party. How is this even possible? Are we that inconsiderate as a society that we do not arrive on time? No worries, I will wait for some of the group members that I know. Nope, too easy. I look out the window, and the first to arrive is the woman that the party is for. I don’t even think she knows my name! I did what any self-respecting male would do. I went to the lavatory.
With no reason to be there, but time to kill, I was able to check out the artwork in the bathroom. They had a picture of what appeared to be Sophia Loren above each urinal. In one of them she was wearing a bustier and garter belts. Do the Carino’s decorators not understand that the physiological reaction that is associated with that picture directly conflicts with the one that controls what goes on at that location? Luckily I was able to ponder this from afar. After digesting this, I returned to the room as more people how now filled in. I chose my position at the table that was far enough away so as to let people that know her better to sit closer, but did not look bizarre given that an entire half of the table was open. From there, the rest of lunch was pretty uneventful, at least until they got to the “presents” part and I realised I had not contributed any cash to it, nor had I signed the card. At that point I was too frazzled to really care.
And that is why I hate those social gatherings.