Monday, December 19, 2005

Hypercompetitive Overachievers

The annual-and-unchangeable office christmas party was a huge success. My company does some sort of team-building exercise every quarter -- and despite the ominous name, these are fun weekend outings that everyone looks forward to. Skiing in January, a show and dinner in the summer, that sort of thing. It's definitely one of the perks of working for my company (indeed, a few of us would probably quit outright if they stopped doing them). At our quarterly meetings, we vote on what to do -- and every year for the last eight years we have demanded that the christmas party be exactly the same. Cocktails, catered dinner (preferably Whirled Peas catering), casino gambling (Crystal Rose), and an auction for some pretty nifty gifts. It's all fake money, of course, but it's the perfect christmas party for hypercompetitive overachievers. First you gamble (and hopefully win!) and then you compete for presents.

It's all in fun, but as I said, we're a competitive bunch. Things get pretty hairy at the craps table when players get down to their last $25, and the table playing Texas Hold'em was a spiritied affair. It's amusing when you realize that there is nothing on the auction table that we wouldn't be able to go out and buy ourselves if we wanted it -- but add in the competitive bidding and suddenly we get a bit cutthroat.

I get freaked out losing fake money at a party...I won't really gamble at a real casino. In Vegas, I dutifully put my twenty bucks into one of the poker machines, it gobbles up every nickel I play, and I'm done. Mr. Phouka drops a buck into a machine at the airport and scores a hundred dollars. Go figure.

This year, though, we did pretty well: I scored a laptop. And, I'm embarassed to admit, I bid for one of those as-seen-on-tv Chocolate Fondue Fountain things. All I can say is that it better be dishwasher safe or we're only going to be using it once.

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