I can handle small talk, in small doses. I'm referring to the type of chit-chat generated between people who don't know each other well, and who aren't especially interested in getting to know each other better. I don't mind a little banter about the weather, or witty repartee. But my tolerance is limited. After half an hour or so of shmoozing, I'm ready for it all to be over with already.
You can therefore imagine how enthusiastic I was about a work function at which I was expected to shake hands and make nice with almost-strangers for over three hours.
I've never seen my workplace look more beautiful. A large room was cleared of desks and equipment and converted into a reception hall. There was a DJ, a buffet of hot food, servers circulating with hors d'oeuvres on trays, a bar at the entrance, and a bar at the rear. There were rented chairs and tables, and little white candles everywhere.
The caterer did an excellent job. The servers were unbelievably friendly and helpful. With around 100 people in the room, a server approached me. I was holding an empty glass. He asked me if he could get me another orange soda. I was so impressed that he remembered what I was drinking that I said "Yes, that would be great!" even though I didn't really need more soda. I ended up holding a glass full of soda and ice cubes for the next hour. It made my hands very, very cold.
One advantage of hosting an event on site instead of renting a facility is that I could go to my office every now and then to unwind. I'd put my freezing soda glass down on my desk, close the door, and surf online for five or ten minutes. Then I'd feel ready to go back out on the floor (soda in hand) to meet more humans wearing suits.
I wore a nice blouse, blazer, and pants. Most of the women in the office changed into dresses. Just prior to the start of the event, they clustered together in front of the mirror sticking on their false eyelashes. I got a few pointers on how to apply false eyelashes, on the offchance that I should ever want to wear them. (I'll probably never be bothered. My naturally stubby eyelashes will have to do.)
A couple of the women were also stepping into brand-new pairs of high-heeled shoes, purchased specially for this event. Me, I wore a nice pair of flats. No way was I going to set myself up to be on my feet for hours in heels. The next morning all the gussied-up ladies had blisters. One of them had such sore feet that she had to take a painkilling pill in order to fall asleep. I tell you, it's just not worth it.