It was the fortnight before Christmas.
The festive tree sparkled welcomingly at reception. The workers were chattering excitedly about the upcoming Christmas party, predicting what dazzling array of finger foods would be on display. As the party would be a catered affair, in a hired premises, one should not expect that the foodstuff will have been sourced at Lidl. However the cheapest option on the menu, will have been requested. This is without question. Some sausage rolls; a few chicken nuggets; a selection of peanut bowls.
And two complimentary drinks vouchers. Just the two mind. In parties of the past, the Christmas work feast was a great deal more extravagant. Nothing excessive, but before the era when senior management developed such an admirable concern for employee health and wellbeing; and therefore decided to strictly limit the free alcohol consumption, to two beverages per head.
If the suburbanites (for whom this annual event is a major date in the calendar, as they tend to get a dispensation from parental duty for the evening) wish to partake of an additional few festive sherries, then they are welcome to do so, at their own expense.
I however, have a competing Christmas party on the same night – with my acting group. This party will be unsubsidised, and will be twenty times better. The group is a run on a shoestring, funded by membership fees, and the profits we scrape together from our shows. It will involve karaoke, and perhaps another attempt by myself to do a Dolly Parton solo. Unlike the work party there will be no need to maintain an air of professionalism, to avoid embarrassing oneself in from of the boss.
That I will embarrass myself is not in doubt. It’s just that with this party I won’t care.
I am currently feeling a strong inclination to avoid the work party entirely.
Why so cynical, you may wonder.
Well as I said, it was the fortnight before Christmas.
All through the mind,s of the temporary employees, worry was brewing. All our contracts expire on December 31st. Some have been told about extension of contract. Others are still waiting. Others have been told that due to circumstances beyond management control, it will not be possible at this time to continue working into January for the unfortunate ones.
They were told two weeks before Christmas.
Then again, I suppose temps are just robots – people without feeling or family. Concern for such people is a waste of emotion. These are people without real commitments. So if one of the unfortunates is a single parent to a two year old, then they should have prepared for this eventuality on time.
They’ll be grand.
Two free drinks. Even the temps are allowed two drinks. The excitement of it all.
I think I am OK in January – I have had a verbal commitment that I am secure until a date further into the future.
Then again a verbal commitment is meaningless without witnesses who will vouch for you.
In these interesting times of temporary employment, you’d be foolish to care for anyone’s business but your own. But when faced with the reality of how expendable you actually are – even though you always knew it – it remains quite shocking.