The decorum of the corporate world is paper-thin. I love it when this thin veil of civility is breached and chaos reigns supreme.
Immediately after graduating from university I fell into an advertising sales position at Australia’s largest media organization. I’d studied Communications and harbored loose aspirations to be a writer. I thought by working in advertising I could learn about the media industry and if I wanted to I could jump across to the editorial side of the business.
When we’re young we don’t really know what normal is when it comes to real jobs. Even if you’re prematurely advanced or highly precocious there’s a ton of guesswork involved.
I enjoyed my first few months at this advertising job. National newspaper, fancy office, big team with a complicated hierarchy. It seemed important.
This novelty wore off quickly. I realized a lot of my co-workers were morons. The office was filled with petty jealousy and futile rivalries.
A few months after I joined the federal government launched a new initiative and began to spend a truckload of money on ads in our paper. We were originally destined to have a dismal end-of-year result but this last-minute campaign changed all that.
We ended up smashing our group target. This meant a fat commission check for each member of the team. A big party was organized on the eve of the new financial year.
The party started in the office. The Sales Director gave a short speech thanking everyone for their hard work throughout the year. Bottles of champagne were cracked.
After a few hours of boozing we made our way to a local watering hole. Sales teams know how to drink. Many celebratory beverages were downed.
This is where my memory gets hazy. The problem with after-work drinks is that they often don’t include any food. I had about fifteen drinks over the course of five hours on a completely empty stomach.
I remember laughing and joking with some colleagues but also noticing some dark energy emanating from some of the more inebriated members of the team. At around 10PM I caught myself starting to slur so I tapped out. I jumped into a cab and went home by myself.
When I walked into the work on Monday morning the atmosphere was grim. Worried faces buried into monitors, sweaty brows, no talking. It felt as if someone had died.
I immediately became overwhelmed with The Fear.
Did I do something terrible on Friday night that I don’t remember?
Surely if I did something bad I would remember at least part of what happened, right?
Am I getting fired today?
Turned out I was worried for no good reason. Two women who hated each other had gotten into an altercation at the party. The drunker of the two had accused the other of moving her handbag and this led to a verbal slanging match which included threats of violence.
Hilariously I was told by other people that I was still at the party when this confrontation happened, right in the vicinity of the action. Yet I was clearly in the early phases of a black-out as I couldn’t recall a single thing.
After a two-week internal investigation the aggressor who initiated the confrontation was fired. A monkey in a suit is still a monkey. This was the main thing I learnt from the whole experience.
I ended up kind of enjoying the soap opera drama of the office for a while. But eventually that got tiresome.
We’re all animals but we all handle domestication in different ways. After just over a year I realized I needed a different type of enclosure. And even though I’m no longer working in an office, I’m still very much still stuck inside the Zoo.