Saturday 9 June 2018

Bonding, booze and bhajis: how not to have a staff meeting

We never have staff meetings. We had one once – at my insistence. It was a terrible idea, I don’t know why I suggested it. I never will again. This is what happened:

Back in the olden days when the staff trio consisted of the ever-so-slightly volatile Colleague McDrama; the ever-so-slightly capricious TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) and lil’ old me, we developed something of a communication problem (I say ‘we’; it wasn’t me – don’t be thinking it was me. There’s no ‘me’ in ‘we’; I was still naively enthusiastic back then).

I love my job! I love my job! Picture, Maikausminga, Pixabay

Colleague McDrama would frequently complain to me about TBE. She’d complain that she felt isolated and forgotten by TBE. That she never saw TBE. That communication was only through the message book, which was rubbish because it meant TBE either brushed aside any issues McDrama raised, or completely ignored them. (Sound familiar? It’s like I was staring right at my future and I didn’t even see it).

The more McDrama pushed (via the message book), the more nasty and defensive TBE became (via the message book). Colleague McDrama was very unhappy (and a wee bit, ‘back away slowly,’ ‘hide all the knives,’ teeth spittingly angry). I urged Colleague McDrama to talk to TBE: to request a formal, face to face meeting with TBE and deal directly with the issues once and for all.

At the same time, TBE would frequently complain to me about Colleague McDrama. TBE would complain that Colleague McDrama was always moaning: moaning about feeling isolated and forgotten; moaning about never seeing TBE; moaning about only communicating through the message book. The more TBE ignored her (in the message book), the more insistent and angry McDrama became (in the message book).

TBE was very unhappy with Colleague McDrama, so I urged TBE to talk to her: to set up a formal, face to face meeting with McDrama and sort this stuff out directly, and once and for all.

Arghhh!!!. Original picture: Pixabay

Eventually, after letting the mutual antagonism (and the stretching of my – fairly thin at the best of times - sympathetic listening skills) ratchet up to a really rather impressive eleven, TBE finally announced she would set up a staff meeting. “Oh thank the retail gods!” thought I. “Now we can all calmly sit down and have a clear, focused discussion where we can raise lots of issues and make lots of plans of action. Brilliant!”


TBE did set up the staff meeting….it’s just…..well….. TBE set up the meeting in a very darkly lit Indian restaurant, on a Sunday afternoon, during the, ‘all you can eat’ buffet session.


I had the sneakiest of suspicions TBE wasn’t fully grasping the importance of this meeting. Either that or she genuinely thought the rabid consumption of at least half a dozen lukewarm onion bhajis would properly contribute to her staff engagement strategy implementation and face to face interpersonal skills. Quite honestly, I wouldn’t have put either reason past her.

But my reaction was nothing to Colleague McDrama’s: she was incensed.

She was incandescent.

But not because this Very Important Meeting was taking place during the weekend in a semi-lit temple to gluttony, where the shashlik was very likely to take priority over the shop talk.


McDrama was incensed because this meeting was arranged to take place on her Designated Weekly Drinking Day.

Yep, Sunday was drinking day. All day. From getting up in the morning all the way through to closing time. And she was furious that TBE had the temerity to plonk our meeting right in the middle of it.

Christ on a bike.

My one, fairly obvious suggestion; (“Maybe lay off, just this one weekend?”), went down like one of the OOF (Out Of Favour) shop’s ancient cakes:

“Why should I? Why should I change my plans to suit her?” (Because its work and you’re a grown-up?)
“She knows this is my drinking day!” (Mmm, yes, and THAT’S not worrying at all….).
“She’s done this on purpose to mess up my day.” (Well, yes, that is entirely possible).

And so the stage was set: TBE was anticipating an entirely effective meeting in an entirely inappropriate setting; Colleague McDrama was anticipating rocking up steaming like an alcoholic turd, and I was anticipating a car crash.

I was the first to arrive, and sat down with dismay at the tiny table: there was no way we were pouring over spreadsheets and analytics on that. TBE followed soon after with her fella; the company’s silent partner (unless you consider that money talks, in which case he’s waay more chatty than TBE), and we all made polite conversation whilst we awaited the coming storm.

And then Colleague McDrama arrived.

She more or less fell through the door, followed unsteadily by her fella: PP Boy (aka Pretty Provincial Boy). He was the company’s…nothing. I didn’t even know why he was there – unless it was to help even up the numbers of sober people and people who looked like they might throw up at the first sniff of a prawn pakora.

McDrama and PP Boy in repose. Original picture: jem1066, Pixabay

They sat down next to TBE’s man (henceforth known as UTT Man: aka Under The Thumb Man. Oh come on! It’s TBE! Of course he’s UTT Man!)

McDrama and TBE eyed each other warily, (which wasn’t actually as menacing as it sounds, mainly due to Colleague McDrama being too drunk to focus her eyes on anything properly), and the rest of us fell silent.

Everybody was silent. Totally silent. All five of us were crowded around an unfeasibly tiny table and nobody uttered a word. We stayed that way for a full forty minutes. We were silent through the buffet appetisers, we were silent through the buffet starters and we were silent through most of the buffet main course. It was unbearable.

Finally, TBE turned to Colleague McDrama and started to say something, but before she could get anything out, PP Boy lurched right across UTT Man, grabbed TBE by the shoulder (I think it might actually have been her boob, but let’s not go there), and slurred, “She loves you. She really really loves you.” Then he dribbled down his chin. TBE looked nonplussed. UTT Man looked terrified.

There then followed a further twenty minutes of mutual gushing and drunken affirmations during which, PP Boy, Colleague McDrama and TBE competed with each other on how much they loved each other. UTT Man and I chatted timidly about paint. Nobody talked about shop stuff.

And then it was over. UTT paid the bill (of course he did), Colleague McDrama and PP Boy each gave TBE a BFF hug strong enough to squeeze the buffet back out again (or maybe they were just using her as a prop to help them stay upright), and I pretty much elbowed every customer out of my way in order to get a clear run at the door.

So that was it. That was the meeting. No shop issues discussed, no company problems aired, no retail strategies reviewed. Everything was just as it had been before the whole ridiculous idea of a staff meeting had been raised. Except that TBE, Colleague McDrama and PP Boy really really loved each other. Apparently.

Clearly the CBI should take note.

Unfortunately, there was an inevitable postscript to this whole preposterous episode: sadly, the love-in was temporary. The issues between TBE and Colleague McDrama escalated (no! How unforeseen!) to the point where McDrama apparently planted herself in the OOF shop and proceeded to scream all manner of delicious profanities at TBE, and TBE resorted to the persuasive technique of wrestling in order to forcefully relieve Colleague McDrama of her shop keys. Worse still; each deleted the other from their Facebook accounts.

The love affair had well and truly died.

Devastating. And entirely avoidable.

Love match, TBE and McDrama style. Photo: commons


  1. Sugar Plum Faerie11 June 2018 at 21:25

    Fight! Fight! Fight!

    1. Yes! I wouldn't know which one to put money on though. Yes I would: it's Colleague McDrama every time.

  2. That is a disaster!!
    Why I never meet up with people (superiors esp) outside of work time!!

  3. Usually things doesn't work even with telling.
    If the boss ever think it's going to work, it would have been put in place already!