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A Christmas survival guide, Part One, The Office Party…

It’s beginning to look a lot like christmas boys and girls, and you know what that means? It means that we’re all entering the potentially awkward and humiliating (not to mention frustrating and rage inducing) time known as the festive season.  Now my children, gather round, don’t be scared, I have you covered. This is the first part of my christmas survival guide trilogy and today we are going to look at:

“How To Survive Your Office Party, Lawsuit Free And With Your Dignity Intact”

This year Publicist, Kristy Fraser-Kirk, sued David Jones for $37 million accusing the department store’s chief executive, Mark McInnes, of unwanted sexual advances at a work Christmas event. This event has caused many workplaces to consider cancelling their christmas parties this year so as not to risk a similar legal problem.

Indeed office parties worldwide have often been a source of scandal and problems of a litigious nature, let’s take Linda Hunt, an Ontario woman who got drunk at an office party and crashed her car. She successfully sued her employer for allowing her to drive — even though her company offered a cab ride or accommodation if she gave up her keys.

Now these two events may be on the extreme end of things, but we all know that work parties are always fraught with peril. Here are some steps towards making it a safer (and duller) experience:

Step One: Don’t Be “That Guy”

“One of the guys from accounting in a large corporation was very, very drunk at the Christmas party. He decided to relieve himself on the burning logs in the fireplace. Bad choice. Within a short time following that party, there was one less guy in accounting.” – Excerpt from an Office Party Bloopers website

There is always one, one of your co workers will always drink too much, too quickly and make a complete moron of themselves, this might seem like obvious advise but I think: “try to avoid being that guy” needs to be said. Now I’m not saying don’t drink, (because god knows you’re not going to get through this hideously dull evening sober) I’m just saying that you need to know your limits. If you find yourself ranting at your boss about how much you hate your job, it might be time to put down that drink. Remember that you have got to work with these people and even though the christmas party might seem like an amnesty from mockery, it isn’t, if you make a fool of yourself you can expect to be the butt of the joke to your coworkers until at least the end of january. similarly if you aren’t “That guy” but someone else is, don’t encourage them. It may seem extremely amusing at the time to cheer them on while they put that lampshade on their heads but eventually that person is going to sober up. They are probably going to be embarrassed by their behaviour and if they have any memory of your encouraging them towards the dark side, they are probably going to take it out on you.

 

Step Two: Keep It In Your Pants

Research shows that one in four people hook up with someone at the office Christmas party, which is great if your company doesn’t frown on such things, you’re both single – and the person in question isn’t your boss!-  Netdoctor.com.au

Maybe you’ve always fancied them but never had the courage to do anything about it until the alcohol steeled your nerves. Maybe you never actually liked them but hey, you’re drunk and they look nice, either way it’s a seriously bad idea. The television show “The Office” suggests that office romances could lead you to a fairytale wedding, more likely that drunken fumble in the supply closet is going to lead to a very awkward work environment and a potential sexual harassment suit. Always remember what may seem extremely romantic through your champagne eyes may look extremely different in the light of day.  Keep in mind too if you do go for a drunken fumble that the eyes of your coworkers will be on you, keep your bedroom antics in the bedroom, actually that’s just good advice for all occasions, nobody wants to see you practically humping your partner on the train, eeeeew.

Step Three: Avoid The Boss

Ok visual gags aside, this is a very important piece of advice. Stay the hell away from your boss while you are drinking! You may have a good relationship with your boss or you may not, it doesn’t matter every single person has some spleen venting to do about their workplace and I think you’ll find that the office party is the wrong place to do it. Here is a very basic rule to follow should you find yourself stuck talking to your boss: before you speak, think to yourself “Would I say this if I weren’t drunk” now really think about it, give it more than 10 seconds thought, if the answer is no then STFU.

 

 

Step Four: Avoid Being Sucked Into The Office Politics

 

Sarah in accounting is totally mad at Fred from the sales department because he borrowed her DVD and when he returned it, it was scratched. Jane and Nicole haven’t spoken in two weeks because Jane said Nicole’s shirt was “so eighties.”  Michelle and Greg both think the other is trying to make them look bad in front of the boss (they both are.) Did you find these stories interesting? Of course not, they are completely fucking dull and yet this is the banality that we let slip into our work lives on a daily basis, some people even actively seek it out. I understand that it can be hard to stay uninvolved in these fascinating situations but it’s important that you don’t allow them to take over the office party. If you are involved when one of these situations takes a booze fuelled turn for the worse you can expect to be comforting messy drunk crying women  and aggressive dudes for the majority of the evening, beware.

Step Five: Dress For Success (Not For A Brothel, Unless You Work In A Brothel In Which Case I Guess It Would Be Appropriate)

 

This is another very simple step which some people seem to have trouble with.  As amusing as it may seem a mistletoe belt is never appropriate attire (it’s just tacky). Neither is your “Fuck you very much” T-shirt. Basically think about what you’re wearing, this party may be outside of work hours but don’t be under any illusions, rules still do apply. If you’re a woman you won’t be doing yourself any favours if you wear an outfit that would make Lady GaGa blush. Women have enough trouble gaining respect in the workplace without having to deal with the judgement of others, save it for the clubs ladies, save it for when it will be properly appreciated.

 

So now that we’ve reviewed the basic rules to get you safely through your party you may be wondering, “Is it worth it?” could any social event be worth this much stress? Well according to 90% of the work etiquette websites that I read through in my research, the worst thing you can do for a work party is not to attend. Not attending will make you look snobby and will make you appear to not be a team player. So there you have it, it’s going to suck, and you have no choice but to attend. Good luck little munchkins, let me know how it goes!

“I Want It Rare, But Not Bloody.” Why Chefs Are So Angry…

A very special post by my celebrity guest blogger Cameron Power.

Everyone knows that chefs are angry people. They are self absorbed, self-centred, sadistic, narcissistic bastards who thrive on heaping their shit onto other people’s plates whilst mentally assaulting anybody who comes within earshot of their verbal tirades.  basically they are mean-spirited, spiteful and vicious, and that’s on a good day.

As someone who has been a chef for the last decade , from lowly dishwasher, to shit-kicking apprentice, to the highs of an executive chef, I have experienced enough of this career to feel qualified to ask, Why would anybody, and I mean anybody, choose this as a profession? Long hours, shocking pay, the mind numbing routine of sweating, bleeding and being degraded, and all for seemingly nothing. You get home and sleep for two hours before you have to wash and iron your uniform, sharpen your knives and polish your faded boots. Then it’s time to start your wholesomely fun day again.

Anyone who cooks knows that this is a way of life, this is what we chose to do. A career that is based on how hard you work, how much you can drink, how any insults you can fling and how much stress you can endure.  Do it without stabbing someone with a bread knife and you’re home and hosed.

There was one problem that we didn’t count on when we embarked on this gastronomic journey,  through all of the bravado and bullshit we went through, years of cut fingers, apprenticeships and bullying head chefs this problem kept popping up, that problem? It’s you! That’s right! You, the general public. If we are spiteful narcissists then god only knows what category you bastards fall into.You are the reason that chefs in general are so angry. Wanna know why?

Chef’s are passionate about food. It’s their pride and joy, it’s their lively hood. It’s what keeps them motivated, it dictates their lives. Yes, chef’s are passionate about food… Not people! We cook for our pride, we cook for ourselves, and we cook for the money. Not for you!

Since the days of open kitchens, our lives have gotten steadily worse. Gone are the days when you could throw pans around, and swear and belittle the waiting staff, Oh no no no! In this p.c. World gone mad you can’t even call someone an idiot without getting sued, even if they are medically proven to be an idiot.

Open Kitchens seem to give people the right and authority to say whatever they please to you, good and loud. Not a day goes by without some Master Chef devotee wandering past me and offering some “helpful” advice. It seems now that the wall has fallen people have a new god given right to tell us how to do our jobs. They stand there shouting things like:

  1. “Hey Chef, that grill looks a little high!”
  2. “Where is the bathroom?”
  3. “Hey man, make sure my steak is a good one!”
  4. “I want my food hot, like… real hot.

Suggestions noted dear customer, here are my responses:

  1. “Really, well I’ll just turn it up a bit more, like a lot more. Because it’s my grill and I can do whatever the fuck I want.”
  2. “You chose to ignore the signs, the wait-staff and the manager to come and interrupt my work to ask me that question? For you, the toilet is across the road in that junkie toilet block.”
  3. “Oh your steak! I’ll just assume it’s the one in the front with the most fat on it. Now I’m going to slightly burn the edges and flip it too many times just to make you feel special.
  4. “Lucky you told me, I planned to pull it out of the fridge, plate it up, put parsley on and serve it up in the hopes that you’d get salmonella, or mad cow disease, or preferably both.

Don’t bother the chefs while they are working!

Here are some of my other favourite stupid questions that get thrown our way at the most inopportune times. Picture this, You’re in a busy kitchen everybody is running around, screaming orders, dinging bells and cursing and suddenly you hear some genius asking something like

“Do you have steak?” Yes we do.

“Do you have chicken?” Yes we do.

“Do you have pastas?” Yes we do.

“What if I just want a salad? Do you have that?” Yes we do.

“You know what? Maybe I’ll just have fries. Do you have that?” Yes, we do.

“Oh I don’t know, what else do you have?”

Well, we have… A fucking menu!

It gets worse, indecisiveness is nothing compared to pure stupidity. Just when we think we have successfully palmed you off onto the wait staff you decide to up the ante a little bit. Here are some more gems I hear on a daily basis:

“Does the vegetarian nachos have beef in it?”

“How is the grilled salmon cooked?”

“I want it cooked rare, but I don’t want it to be bloody.”

The new emerging trend of irritating customers are the vegans and allergy type people, it seems like every “Steve intolerant” and “Jenny  coeliac” has chosen to wander into my humble establishment to bother me with their insane requests:

“I’m a vegan, has your grill ever touched meat?”

“Do you batter your fish with flour?”

“I’m allergic to salt”

“I don’t eat animals, I’ll just have the fish.”

It takes at least 4 years for us to be qualified, it takes nurses around the same time, and yet you trust these people with your lives and you don’t even trust us with your food?

I could go on forever, rattling off various enraging stories, but to be honest, I’m getting angry just writing this. It brings back hateful memories and makes me feel like taking my carving knife to the nearest gluten-free, pasta eating hypocrite I can find.

So, why am I still a Chef? Like I said, Chefs love food, I love food! I just don’t like you!

Is your job killing you?

 

I was doing my usual random wandering around the interweb when I found this list:

10 most depressing jobs
 
1. Personal Care and Service 10.8%
2. Food Preparation and Serving Related 10.3%
3. Community and Social Services 9.6%
4. Healthcare Practitioners and Technical 9.6%
5. Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media 9.1%
6. Education, Training, and Library 8.7%
7. Office and Administrative Support 8.1%
8. Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance 7.3%
9. Financial 6.7%
10. Sales and Related 6.7%

Interesting huh? In case you’re wondering, my job is part of the number one most depressing industry. I am a childcare worker. 

 It got me thinking, how much does your job actually affect your life and wellbeing? According to this article , a lot.  The article has  a study on jobs and stress that show how working in a job with high demands and low control —often found in lower-ranking, lower-paying jobs—is associated with an earlier death, and also with cardiovascular disease, mental health problems, sleep issues, and among other maladies.  people who work in jobs with low demands are also at risk if they have low control over their work. “If you spend your working life in a job that’s basically boring, you’re at risk of dying sooner,”  was a quote from a psychologist referenced in the article.

So control is the issue? Well unless you’re one of the lucky few working for themselves or for a boss who encourages  an autonomous work environment you’re screwed. Chronic stress weakens the immune system and makes it more difficult for us to fight off any bugs going around.  A quote from ezine articles  says “Stress has been listed as a contributing factor to every kind of illness imaginable, from the relatively benign complaints like the common cold or an occasional bout of insomnia to the deadly illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. Over $400 billion dollars a year is spent on stress related diseases.”

Stress, ew.  So let’s imagine, you’re super stressed. You wake up every morning with that familiar feeling of dread, the dread of another work day stretching out before you. You come home every evening feeling tired and grumpy and snap at everyone. When is it time to quit? Let’s find out.

1. You’ve burned too many bridges

Maybe you’ve pissed off your boss to the point that your relationship is unrepairable. Maybe you’ve got caught up in office politics and work is now filled with drama. Maybe you’ve earned yourself a bad reputation due to too many days off, or slacking on your work. Either way, you’ll probably find it easier in the long run to just cut your losses and move on.

2. You’re compromising more than you feel you should.

Your work likes things done one way, and one way only. If your views differ to their’s it can be hard to make the compromise to their way of thinking. This is of course part of any job, however, if you are compromising constantly, especially on issues that you consider important, or that conflict with your values or morals, you’re not going to be happy. If you’re not happy, you’re not going to do a good job. Move on.

3. You’re just not happy.

If you’re spending all of your time complaining to your friends and family about your work, chances are it’s time to find something new. Maybe you’ve been there too long, maybe the job just isn’t right for you. I don’t think we should settle for any old job just for the cash, if you’re really not happy you won’t last anyway.

So if you do decide to quit how do you find out what the right job for you is? Well if you want to go the frivolous online route you could do an online quiz. I went to this website and took the career personality test, my results for my ideal career were:

  • Actor
  • Recruitment Consultant
  • Politician
  • Marketing
  • Psychologist
  • Religious Minister
  • Teacher
  • Social Worker
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Sales
  • Lawyer
  • Advertising
  •  

    Well I would have to be a pretty good actor to pretend to be a religious minister. Take the quiz and let me know what you got!  The test has spit out a number of “ideal” careers that seem pretty freaking random and not much help. I guess not surprisingly the internet quiz based route to finding your perfect career may not be the best.

    I think that finding the right job for you may just be a matter of finding something that makes you happy, something that you can bear to do day after day, even if the rewards are more emotional than financial. Life is too short my friends to stay in a lame job.

    I hope you find what you’re looking for, me? I think I’ll apply to be a reality television show critic, or maybe a lawyer that specializes in religious law that teaches on the side and does their own marketing and hiring in between charity work, that’ll look good when I run for prime minister.