Drinking is really big here – even at work. And from what I understand, it isn’t exclusive to my company. Most companies have “work drinks” every Friday or every other Friday. I understood this to be happy hours, where everyone went to a local bar and hung out for an obligatory amount of time.
At my company, however, we have work drinks in the office every other Friday. We all go down to the main conference room, where there is a liquor cabinet (or cabinets?). Out comes tons of bottles of beer, as well as 15-20 bottles of wine. There might be more options, but those seem to be the favourites. There is often food to nibble on as well. And people stay for hours! Wouldn’t you? For free alcohol and food?
I should mention that every Friday, the Tax Department has ‘morning tea’. I’m sure other groups do as well, but the groups do not mingle for tea. Tea is really just a chance to stand around for an hour and chat while eating random foods and perhaps drinking tea (not that I have, nor have I seen anyone else drinking tea at tea). The foods are mostly things I have not eaten and do not ever want to eat. Like sausage rolls, and meat pies. Sometimes there is fruit and some candy – I’ve even seen a muffin or two – but no bagels, or cream cheese or even donuts. In fact, I haven’t seen a donut since we moved here!
Our Christmas Party also consisted mainly of eating and drinking. It was unlike any Christmas party I had ever been to! First, we had morning tea (of course), as it was Friday. Around noon or one, we all piled into vans that took us to our first event: lawn bowling. As I am terrible at regular bowling, I was sure to be horrible at this. However! It turns out the curve I have when bowling is actually an advantage in lawn bowling! I helped our team win the first round.
Before the actual bowling, and in-between rounds, there was drinking and random food. I didn’t recognize a lot of the food, and so much of it ended up in napkins once I tasted it. Note to self: do not eat food you don’t recognize, and/or that is not described or explained to you.
And in true public accounting fashion, the new people had to put on skits for the rest of the group. Not a big deal, and most were funny and well received. After all that, but before we headed out to dinner, the head tax partner gave out annual “awards”. These aren’t your typical awards, however…they were awards for worst drunk! The choices included one employee who ordered three or more bottles of very expensive (read: $450/bottle) champagne at a work drink function because he was too drunk to notice (and he still doesn’t remember doing it) and another employee who ran into a glass door because she was too drunk to see it. The first guy won the trophy, of course. The partner joked how he had to explain to the other partners of the firm about how good the champagne was that they paid for, even though he wasn’t there that night and didn’t have any. Another award went to an another employee for frequenting a strip club called “Mermaid Club” and knowing how to dance with money in his mouth.
We all headed back to the office to gather our things or change into evening clothes. We also exchanged gifts in the Secret Santa $5 gift exchange. I bought a new intern some bubble bath and a chocolate bar, and I received some “Tiki” salad tongs. It was a great way to welcome us to NZ!
Next up was dinner at a restaurant called One Red Dog (mentioned below in my “Food” post). Of course, there was wine at the table – two bottles per four people. We had appetizers, then a ton of smaller gourmet pizzas for everyone to share and try out, and then dessert: chocolate fondue with strawberries, pineapple, kiwi fruit and marshmallows. YUM! However, I was so stuffed at this point, I could barely eat my share. =( No worries, Darren and I went back another day and got one just for ourselves!
Best of all, there was no praying, or singing or bad hotel food. I was one of the first to leave a little after 11 pm. I have no idea how late the party went!