Hampered By Work Culture

, , , , , , , , | Working | November 30, 2018

Back in the 80s, I was new to my career, and one November I started work in the workshop of a fly-by-night company that provided basic computer equipment to the financial sector — little more than glorified monitors, badly designed and cheaply made. The management were as cheap as their product, and were ungenerous and demanding of their staff. However, this was made up for somewhat by the fact that they provided free lunch — toasted sandwiches, etc. — and by the legendary Christmas office party, at which all employees were to receive a lavish hamper, filled with sumptuous seasonal goodies and expensive delicacies such as champagne, caviar, VSOP brandy, cheeses, and the like. I was not getting on too well with my colleagues, some of whom — particularly one supervisor — were a brash and insulting bunch of bullies. No big deal, just a pain to work with.

Come the week of the party, I was taken aside by one of the team seniors and informed that as I had not been at the company long enough — just over a month — I was not entitled to take part in the Christmas party, and I would not be getting a hamper. A little disappointing, I thought, but not far off what I had come to expect from the management there. I shrugged it off, while working on preparing an exit strategy.

Come the week after Christmas, when we were all back at work, the supervisor in question came into the workshop and crowed, “You fell for it, then!” One of the other guys in the office said, “Yeah, we split the contents of the hamper between us. We weren’t wasting it; since you obviously didn’t want it, we all had it.”

Apparently my non-attendance was taken by the higher management as a bit of a slap in the face, and I was not looked upon with favour by the company director — not that I would have had the chance of speaking to him face to face, as one was not encouraged to communicate directly with anyone higher than one’s own direct line manager.

Within a month I had found a new place to work.