A few weeks ago I ran into a very drunk paralegal that I always seem to encounter when I hang out late during the work week. The poor bastard was falling over while his co-workers laughed at his sorry state. He managed to get to his feet and slobber in a girl’s ear before being whisked away by a sympathetic member of his entourage. We have all been there, but at some point, you should take your lumps and know better. For those without common sense, I wrote up some “rules of engagement” to help the clueless:
1. Unless expressly stated by both parties, a co-worker is not a friend. Do not treat them like one while socializing after hours. A co-worker can become a friend, but I suspect those chances are diminished greatly if people are losing control after a few drinks.
2. Don’t talk about work. You probably just left the office and that project is falling behind, but use the time together to get to know someone as a human being, not complain—we all have problems.
3. Don’t talk about work. If you can’t find any common ground, go home. And shame on both of you for nothing being able to come up with something.
4. Be aware of other people around you: See how I said not to talk about work? I was in a bar a while back and people were complaining about work…LOUDLY. There was a girl who was obviously put off by the conversation and she had her head buried in her phone. I really thought she was tweeting the conversation. When I got home and checked twitter for the bar’s name, my company’s name, and my own name, but thankfully nothing came up. That could have been a nightmare (companies do check this stuff).
5. Try to keep some of your more personal beliefs to yourself for a while: Topics regarding religion and politics should be avoided. This is somewhat hypocritical of me to say since I write about this kind of stuff on my personal blog all the time, but I don’t rub it in people’s faces. After a few social events, if you feel like you know the person well enough to test the waters, go for it, but be prepared to back off if you have different views because you have to work with this person.
6. Having marital problems? I don’t care. Open marriage? I don’t want to know. Please don’t ask the bartender for their number when I am in your company—that actually goes for any social situation and the rule applies to the wait staff as well.
Additional Advice: If you have a bar you really like or are a regular at, don’t bring co-workers there until you know they are okay. If things get weird you might get banned from your favorite watering hole.
7. If you happen to be invited to a co-worker’s home, don’t go through their house (this happened to a friend several years ago). If you see a guitar or other musical instrument, don’t pick it up and start playing unless you are asked. You will look like a douchebag (well honestly, if you are rummaging around in somebody’s house, you probably are a douchebag).
8. Don’t start a fight at a bar when you are with co-workers. Sounds like common sense right? This includes saying anything that warrants you being punched in the face. I won’t help you. I will probably encourage the person attempting to cave your face in.
9. Assuming we are working under the conditions I have outlined above—no shots. If being in the company of these people is so bad that your need to medicate yourself to the point where you can’t feel your fingers, something is very wrong.
10. Beware of Karaoke. It seems like a charming idea to sing with your co-workers until someone dedicates “Fat Bottom Girls” to Marge in accounting. Congratulations, she locked up her candy dish and you have ruined it for everyone.
Thanks for reading. It is my intent to help my fellow drinkers avoid making complete fools out of themselves and to (selfishly) avoid having to be in your company if you act like this. If you find yourself doing any of this stuff with people who can get you fired… it might be a good time to make a change.