March 9, 2012: Company Outings!
Or at a local izakaya with your boss and fellow co-workers.

While I’ve been immersed in my esoteric/artistic pursuits (writing that horror script, pitching that scifi series, fielding show running opportunities, waiting around for conference calls that never happen, etc.), Akemi has been doing her own thing – specifically, attending English classes three to four times a week.  The classes vary, from pronunciation to idioms to conversation in which the students and teacher discuss all sorts of topics: tea, poutine and, today, social drinking.

As some of you may (or may not) know, social drinking is an important part of professional life in Asia.  For instance, in Japan, a lot of the time, when work ends at the office, a whole new phase of the job begins at the local watering hole where salaryman get together with co-workers, bosses, or prospective clients to discuss business and drink, drink, drink!  There’s nothing quite as surreal as being out on the streets of Tokyo at around 11:00 p.m. when the various bars and restaurants disgorge their inebriated clientele, pleasantly pickled as they wind and stagger their way to the nearest metro to catch the last train home (otherwise it’s a night at the capsule hotel for them!).

March 9, 2012: Company Outings!
I had my heart set on a dachsund but fell in love with the scruffy little guy with the glasses.

Beet-faced, perspiring, ties and jackets askew – occasionally boisterous, sometimes vomitous – they’re a far cry from their staid daytime selves. On my last trip to Tokyo with my buddy Ivon, we would pass them on our way back to the hotel – singing, shouting, crouched down by some bushes throwing up dinner.  It’s all part of social custom promoting company harmony and it’s considered downright rude not to drink, or to drink too slowly if someone else is buying.  According to one of Akemi’s fellow students, a Taiwanese national, these work-related outings can go on for a while. His longest clocked in at an impressive/insane 20 hours.  20 hours! Seriously, we’re talking about a business meeting here, not spring break in Tijuana!

Over the course of our professional lives, I’m sure that we’ve all had to participate in some irksome work-related activities be it to close a deal, secure a promotion, or satisfy Martha from accounts receivable that you had nothing to do with the recent spate of missing staplers.  So, I want to know: What was the worst business outing you’ve ever attended?  In my case, I think it was the mandatory company picnic where I was forced to participate in an impromptu game of volleyball and, later, caught by my boss trying to slip away during the archery competition. For what it’s worth, the food wasn’t very good either.

36 thoughts on “March 9, 2012: Company Outings!

  1. This one’s easy! It was at a company picnic where Mr. Deni worked years ago. It was at a heavy equipment company and I knew nobody. My daughter decided to tag along, as well. Somebody done went out and kilt theyselves a wild boar for serve up for dinner. Hell, yeah, they done kilt it right down yonder. The meat was tough as nails and absolutely horrible (but hey, I tried). For sides, they had extra dry cornbread, veggies floating in water and some sort of beans. Yep, these folks knew how to party. It was 30 degrees and they held the thing outside so everyone was freezing. That wasn’t the only thing that was freezing, because nobody would talk to me or my daughter! Good times. 🙂

  2. First to come to mind: A particularly un-festive holiday party in Dallas for both the local and regional staff of a Federal agency. I worked for the local office, husband for the regional. That was my first experience with low-budget Texas barbecue at a dress-up party. I had to take extra-special care not to drip barbecue sauce on my ice-blue dress.

    But I must balance with a best: Husband’s retirement lunch here in San Antonio, 75–100 attendees. Again barbecue, but I could dress “business casual”.

    Husband is not very fashion-forward; he wore white shirts with black tie & slacks to work. When Husband’s supervisor asked those guests wearing “SM’s unofficial uniform” to stand, there were at least 20 folk wearing white over black in Husband’s honor! 😉

  3. So, I want to know: What was the worst business outing you’ve ever attended?

    More than a decade and three bosses ago, I attended a technical conference in New Orleans with associates, customers, and my boss. During social drinks on Bourbon Street and after a few too many “hurricanes”, my boss wanted everyone to get up and dance. (Imagine a group of all male pastey white engineers with one token female sales agent in a bar with almost no other female companionship due to it being a technical conference, and you may get an idea of how suddenly awkward this situation became).

    He managed to get the sales agent and one of our Japanese associates on the dance floor, but the rest of us stayed glued to our seats. He would then come over and dance in front of our table, trying to entice the rest of us to get up and dance with him. Most of us suddenly found the ice in our drinks to be very interesting and worthy of intense study while I feigned intestinal cramps and hid in the bathroom. Later, I slipped out and headed back to my hotel room.

    Fortunately, the next day my boss didn’t remember much beyond getting up to dance, so my abandonment of him at the bar went unnoticed. The experience put me off of ever drinking “hurricanes” again, though. 😉

  4. Sadly, for sake of an entertaining story for you, the things I’ve had to do for my jobs have been borderline awesome. Everything from paid trips to LA and Vegas for trade shows(NAMM and SEMA, respectively) to trips out in the middle of nowhere to watch a vehicle I helped build compete in DARPA’s autonomous vehicle challenges. Nothing but good stuff here! Great fun, great memories. Sorry to disappoint.

    On another note….

    Joe….you’d be proud of me. Tonight I’m in La Mesa, just east of San Diego to attend my cousin’s wedding tomorrow. I did my homework and scoped out a few eateries to try and hit while I’m down here, one of which was on Triple D. But upon arrival at the hotel, I smelled a small event next door. It was a food truck mini-extravaganza! Only 5 trucks were there, but it was still cool!

    I immediately switched into Joseph Mallozzi mode! Looking for the interesting mixes of flavors, new spins on things, all that stuff. It’s as if all the reading I’ve done here in the last two years was paying off! It was a great feeling. I must have gone back and forth between those trucks about 10 times. I finally decided on a Korean BBQ burrito: specially seasoned steak with Asian slaw, spicy mayo, ….and some other stuff. I was sold after the first few ingredients. But they were out of steak! I didn’t want to default to my old standard, but after looking everything else over from the other trucks, that brisket was calling my name a little too loudly to ignore. It was good, not the best I’ve ever had. A little dryer than I’m used to, but at least they didn’t drown it in their BBQ sauce to make up for it. That, I appreciate. I washed it down with…..you guessed it, Mexican Coke! You gotta! My side dish I got from another truck: sweet potato tots with drizzled maple syrup. Really sweet! Almost a dessert dish, really. But good. If I had more cash on me tonight I would have done the true JM thing and got at least one item from each truck. But, my wallet was only so deep tonight and my stomach only so big. But I was happy with what I got and sadly they only do this gathering on Fridays. I don’t know when I’ll ever be back down in La Mesa, but I’ll be back here when I am!

    In all honesty, had it not been for this blog opening my eyes about how food truck culture has changed massively and how now there are some that are practically gourmet, I wouldn’t have even given them a second glance. Tomorrow, it’s off to one of my originally planned destinations, Studio Diner in San Diego as featured on Triple D! I plan to be adventurous there with my menu choice, but I make no promises. I’m a sucker for a fresh spin on an old classic!

    -Mike

  5. Worse company outing I woke up in someone else’s hotel room with a coworker and my supposed roomie was in our room with another guy, boss came by to knock on the door while I was just waking up and he opened the door. He claims he got up to go to the bathroom, had NO IDEA I was in his bed so didn’t think when he opened it. Since I didn’t remember getting there, nor did the others, I can only say it was probably true and best forgotten– except 28 yrs later I still haven’t. Oy. I can say I have NEVER been drunk like that again.

  6. I should have added I was still pretty much clothed but I was so drunk I can’t really say that nothing went on, except we were all so drunk if it did, he deserves an applause.

  7. Worst business ‘outing’…

    Middle of the summer, sitting in the cramped office, with my rotund father at his desk about 10 feet away…wearing nothing but boxer shorts as he cheerfully greets the occasional delivery and/or salesman. I didn’t think it could get any worse. Then, he switched to tighty-whities.

    Freakin’ traumatized me for life. 😛

    das

  8. Oh, almost forgot! Just got back from John Carter. Though I have not read the books, I really enjoyed the movie, a lot. Some things did go over my head at first, but eventually I caught on. Fun movie, and I can really see how Burroughs influenced Moorcock’s work, especially Elric’s ‘dreamquests’. Good stuff, worth a second view if it wasn’t so damned expensive (we only had 3D, which I hate – I want to see it in 2D if it comes around).

    das

  9. @ avabird and Sparrowhawk – No mystery about Depp’s Wraithish, crow-crowned look. It’s based on the famous painting by Kirby Sattler, I am Crow:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v54/dasNdanger/iamcrow.jpg

    However, it also reminds me of this picture that popped up soon after the first Pirates movie:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v54/dasNdanger/PotC__Jack_s_Hair.jpg

    😀

    @ Joey – There is an adorable doggie in John Carter that I think you would just love!

    das

  10. University student enjoying your stories 😀
    But thank you very much, now I know what to expect later in life, lol.

    Birdy.

    I wish we had these food trucks in my town, but we have a lot of Doner kebab, which are plain awesome around here. The Turkish really know how to make simple and great food!

  11. You know where I heard about this Japanese tradition? Ever seen the show “Three Sheets” with Zane Lamprey? It aired on the Travel Channel for a time, and featured Zane drinking himself silly in various locales around the world. One episode featured Japanese drinking habits. Surprised the heck out of me.

    I miss that show. Funny stuff, and interesting, though by the end of many episodes I’d find myself worried about the state of the guy’s liver.

    He’s still at it, by the way: http://www.zanelamprey.com/

  12. @das: Thanks for the explanation. They did a good job of re-creating the look of Sattler’s painting. And although I haven’t read the books either, I’m looking forward to seeing John Carter soon.

    I watched a really entertaining movie last night: Attack the Block. A teen gang in the south end of London defends their block from an alien invasion.

  13. Luckily I have not had to attend many business related outing’s but the worst one was a doosy. It was a by-annual office night out and someone had insisted the senior management attend, which included the managing director. I and one of my colleagues decided it would take to much time to go home and come back into the city before having to meet up with everyone else for the dinner reservation and after work went to the vodka bar…as you might guess afterwards when we arrived at the restaurant we were both already very merry and somehow I manged to be seated right next to the MD. I was relaxed and happy and so joined in conversation with him even to the point when after admiring his choice of pizza he gave me a slice to try. I immediately wish to return the favour and drunkenly (because I had had even more to drink by this time) cut a slice of my own weight watchers ham and pineapple and using a using a pincer technique with my knife and fork plonked the whole slice onto his lap, it was an accident so I am sure he would have forgiven me but he did look a little distraught when horrified at seeing what I had done, I grabbed a serviette and attempted to rub clean his lap for him. Strangely enough the people sitting on other side of us, whom we had rudely ignored up until that point, became extremely fascinating for the rest of the meal.

  14. Like @Mike A, my business outings were usually pretty fun and held in some awesome places. Sometimes, though, they were a bit boring. One of my best memories is of a conference in Vegas when my boss, after a couple of hours of listening to speakers, said to me, “We already know all of this. Wanna go gamble?” So off we went to the casino where he taught me how to play blackjack and I won $60.

  15. Ah, playing unintentional hopscotch over the puddles of vomit on my way to base each morning in Yokosuka, good times. Dodging the salaryman who “like my hip” and tried to follow me home one evening. Or the guy at the noodle cart who cried, Sugoi, neh! And grabbed my busty friend’s boobs straight on, both hands. Oh yeah.

    I was in the Navy, so let’s not talk about uncomfortable long social events in uniform, eating overly sweet Crisco-icing laden cakes and red punch, desperately wishing I was doing anything else. Or Navy Balls, also in dress uniform, dancing and drunkenly avoiding the advances of the officers. But the real parties often did run 24 hours, lots of booze and bad behavior. We had a farewell sleepover in the BOQ (completely against regulations to have a party in the Officer’s Quarters with all the enlisted pukes). By the time the cake came out (yes, loaded with red, white and blue frosting), we were drunk as drunk could be on my daquiris. So we had a cake fight, then rinsed it off with beer (and rinsed down the entire lounge too), then piled in the roomy shower in various stages of undress. Men, women, officers, enlisted, and all of us young and attractive. Singing “there’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off” as loudly as possible. Then we all dressed in Ensign Annie’s clean clothes, she was a tall gal and her sweats fit everyone… oh, with a swimsuit competition by the guys first, in her single piece numbers. She was sober enough to drive us to our various homes, some offbase. I had put my sugary clothes back on, but my friend was afraid to go home to his wife wearing nothing but a tiny short silky kimono, so he crashed on my floor. Talk about a walk of shame the next day, I had to get someone to bring him something to wear.
    Good times.
    And yes, I have pictures. Buwahahaha.

  16. I have to agree with Mike A., if it wasn’t for reading your blog over the past few years, I would never have given those hot dog trucks that sit outside the exit door of the Home Depot or Lowes a second glance. But thanks to you Joe, I have been eyeing them more and more intensely with every trip to those stores. I think I will just have to march right up to one and see what they got. And I will owe it all to you Joe. 🙂

  17. “In my case, I think it was the mandatory company picnic where I was forced to participate in an impromptu game of volleyball and, later, caught by my boss trying to slip away during the archery competition. For what it’s worth, the food wasn’t very good either.”
    Did he shoot you in the ass with an arrow a la Rodney McKay? Hahaha. Funny mental image right there.
    Alas, as a longtime self-employed writer, I can say with confidence that the company on my work outings is congenial, the food incredible, and the activities perfect…

  18. @ Sparrowhawk – This is the first movie in I don’t know how long that I can still remember the day after watching it, with the exception of Real Steel which ended up being a decent flick, and nothing like what I was expecting. But I cannot even begin to tell you what the last Transformers movie was about, and I only saw that one a month ago. All I remember is that the kid had a new girlfriend (thank god!). And I pretty much forgot everything about the last POTC movie a week after seeing it in the theater. This is why I just wait for the DVD, Redbox or PPV. Movies are becoming more and more forgettable, imho, especially the action/adventure ones. So, though I was excited about this one, I really wasn’t expecting it to be any different.

    [Slightly spoilerish ahead – no plot details]
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    But it was different. I can’t explain it. It looked different. Some steampunk elements, some sci fi elements, some historical elements. And it was speckled with delightfully subtle humor. This was sci fi in its purest form, but certainly not in its simplest. But more than anything it felt alien to me, like I was seeing something new for the first time. It takes time for your brain to register everything. Not everything was spelled out and spoon fed to the audience from the get-go. This is a movie for the patient, for those who are able to get lost in the story as they allow it to unfold in its own time. That’s why I really want to see it again. I’m curious to watch the movie through eyes now familiar with the story and landscape. Since I haven’t read the books I was just a tad lost in the beginning (especially regarding names of people and places), but by the end of the film everything I didn’t quite understand was clarified. And for me the payoff was well worth the wait.

    das

  19. Since I do not have a social personality, all beyond work-hour events are extremely painful for me. And in my 36 years of steady employment, I have been to plenty. It was about 15 years ago I finally said enough is enough and will refuse any post work Company invitations (except the occasional “let’s go to dinner after work” with the girls). This includes all Christmas parties. When not on the clock, I figure it is my time, not theirs anymore. I will do what I want to do. I just want to go home after work. I enjoy relaxing at home. I’d become a Hoarder if I could think of something I’d like to hoard. So the past few years they started having the Christmas parties during lunch (probably to get rid of all the drunk spouses at the evening events), so I just grin and bare it. When it is over, they give us the afternoon off and we don’t have to go back to work, which makes it better.

  20. I once wore a jacket in a long line waiting for food because the line caught me off guard and I have bad reactions to the sun. People kept asking me about it because it was hot. When we got our food, they gave us safety kits that had sunscreen in them. Or was that the most ironic business outing?

    I have plenty crazy stories about the places I’ve worked, but the outings were relatively painless. Maybe I’ll remember something.

  21. The employers I’ve worked for were mostly non-profit, so parties were pretty subdued (translation: boring). I did enjoy one Christmas party where a fellow team leader got plastered and wanted to dance on the table. Sadly, a co-worker managed to dissuade her. Since she was not a particularly nice person, it was disappointing to me that she didn’t follow through anyway.

    Any events we attended were those darned seminars where we were supposed to learn something. Some were good. Most were nod-off worthy. Again, in a small community like the one I live in, all the people who work for non-profits know each other, so it was not possible to sneak out. I’d have to endure the entire day long experience.

    Is it any wonder that I’ve changed my career to writing and events planning?

  22. Speaking of Japan Joe, some interesting new tech coming out in the country from now until well forever. Basically from memory Japan are doing radiation detectors that attach to your phone to make sure stuff is safe to drink/eat, and stuff like portable life sign detectors to listen for any signs of life if any earthquakes occur in rubble, they’re also doing stuff like solar panels that stick onto your windows. And electric cars that can power your house if the power grid goes down.

    Sounds like the country in general is trying to come up with some cheap methods of insuring people survive natural disastors in bigger numbers. Could make your next Japan trip more interesting if you go looking for stuff you can take back with you that Canada lacks that could be useful.

    My point was mostly you gotta love Japan, the way the country constantly tries to adapt to survive.

  23. And speaking of capsule hotels, I would hate to stay in one of those personally. They look like coffins *Shrugs*, they do seem to be the choice of people looking for cheap accomidation in Tokyo, or people too drunk/lost to get back home intime.

    Generally speaking most decent places in the capital depending on how close you want to be to the centre do cost much more than these capsule hotels so its understandable I suppose(Back on the cheap point).

    Japan does offer accomidation at temples and stuff, that allow guests to take part in prayers and stuff like that when they occur.

  24. @Deni… I’d have to unearth the album, scan the pics in , and find a place to post them. I’m still in touch with these folks, and they’re all upstanding church goers and family oriented people these days. They’d be horribly embarrassed. So probably not going to happen. But yeah, the swim suit shots are hilarious, and the lurid cake encrusted group poses are priceless.

  25. I suspect the social drinkers have seen St. Elmo’s Fire one too many times. I don’t know why the custom still exists; no one looks like they’re really having fun. Imagine how much more fun it would be to have all of that free time to yourself instead of entertaining co-workers.

    Today had the horror of going overboard on groceries after “shopping hungry”, waddling out of the store with huge bags of junk and then girl scouts were selling cookies for exactly one more dollar than I had on me. I will be having nightmares about not being able to afford the Samoas for years to come.

  26. Joe, those capsule hotels are scary. I’m not (that) claustrophobic, but golly. Ya know, those look like stacked airline crates in the grooming room at a dog show. It might feel like sleeping in a Vari-Kennel. 😯 But if a person was that tired, or rosy, the body would overrule the mind and they’d konk out anyway. 🙂

    @ Maggiemayday You have the best stories! Hill – larious. 😀 I bet you learned self defense quickly!

    Most company outings have been nice and tame, but there was this one business conference… Everyone was well-behaved that weekend until Saturday night. At this very midwestern, clean-cut banquet, people were reading samples of their creative writing after dinner. Now I don’t mind a little romance, but hate being made a defacto voyeur. One gal decided this professional group of 100+ was the perfect venue to read aloud her character’s very explicit, pornographic escapades, rated NC-17 or beyond. :blush:

    It had to have been a short story, because it seemed to last forever. I was dying of embarrassment, as was a third of the audience. Still she read on, for close to 15 minutes. I wanted to bolt from the room in the worst kind of way, but was sitting near the microphone. To have left in the middle, in front of that many people, would have made a scene. So I sat there and fidgeted.

    As soon as the would-be Scheherazade concluded, the room applauded, some of them from relief. Before another inspired person stood to read, a few other people and I did finally make our get-away. Whew!

  27. I’ve read about those capsule hotels. I’m glad you posted the picture. It looks like a store front. Can you walk by and peak in? Odd to think of staying in a display.

    I went to see John Carter today. Cute movie. I haven’t read any of the books and had no idea what to expect. It was worth the time. Cute doggie in it also.

    You ladies are making me blush!

  28. “Singing “there’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off” as loudly as possible.”

    Oh my!! 😆 😆

  29. There was that one departmental weekend-long “retreat” where someone thought that a game of “Red Rover” would be a great team-building exercise.

    Need I say more?

    – KB

  30. @Tam Dixon
    No one from the outside can see in the capsules, they are basically past a desk where you pay etc, and in side rooms depending on size.

    Most have TVs inside each capsule where you can watch anime and stuff, and are temp controlled, they also have curtains for privacy, like a very small house.

    I would say that 3 capsules put together would almost equal the space inside a puddle jumper, minus the height lol

  31. I must be really 🍀lucky…all 🍸parties I went to were the 🍴BEST💃

    I will admit that a lot of people drink too much at these parties and say and do things they normally wouldn’t do. At a FOX party a co-worker dropped his pants for me and another woman. Yep..saw him at work and he wasn’t embarrassed at all.

    I still remember the pictures I promised but I have to shop first. Thought I had the ingredients…but didn’t. 👿

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