Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Some of those gift horses are right mouthy

Our workplace likes to observe corporate niceties in regard to staff welfare, and staff education, and staff entertainment. I suppose it's an attempt to off-set the staff depression, staff alcohol intake and staff whimpering in corners that happens.

Today I met a colleague who had been on an earlier tea-break to me. I thought she must have popped out to the Square, because she was carrying a small, brown-paper bag with a logo of some kind and was smiling excitedly.

"No, I didn't go out" she said. "I got this for free in the canteen."

"What's in it?" I asked, poking one eye over the rim in case this freebie might be slightly dangerous. We enumerated the goodies, which were all foodstuffs, apart from some printed bumph which we immediately disregarded. Happy with her prize, she went back to work.

Hot-footing it downstairs our little group made sure to reach the freebie table in good time to rootle about the goodiebags. There was fruit...

"I want a banana," my pal said petuantly, peering into the neatly ordered rows of brown paper. She fished out a bag containing a banana and joined the queue to buy tea. I looked into my bag, which contained a fruit scone, an orange, a strawberry yoghurt, and various pieces of plastic cutlery. And a small pat of butter wrapped in paper.

"How is it I always get yoghurt with nuts in it?"

"Oh shut up! You can have my strawberry one instead."

Around us was the louder than usual buzz of office staff in conversation over their cups of tea and coffee and heads bobbing among forests of brown-paper bags placed in protective custody about the tables. Obviously word had filtered through to the upper offices that something free was afoot in the canteen this morning.

The engineers had lined up theirs in neat rows with the handles standing to attention. We lowly clerks plonked the goodiebags in haphazard confusion among the cups and saucers and ducked around them in conversation.

There was an instruction booklet on how to eat the contents. At least I presume that's what it was. In keeping with all members of the public everywhere, I deigned to read whatever had been provided for me. On the outside of the bag was something about healthy eating and the Irish Dairy Board.

"It's all a gimmick," declared Billy Fitz, sitting down at the table and resolutely buttering a croissant. He would not be eating from a free bag of food today.

"Never refuse a gift of money or food," I said. "Or a bath."

They looked at me.

"You forget, I came from a house without any plumbing."

At dinner hour I had a piece of Southern Fried chicken, mashed potatoes with broccoli and turnip. I forgot all about the healthy eating message. I did remember to bring the bag home though. I mean it was free, after all.

Think I might attempt the fruit scone, even though I'm full.

Healthy eating, how are you!


Angharod said...

The neatest PR gimmick a workplace of mine had was a morning ritual I've never seen since I temped for one of the 2 syringe needle manufacturers in the US.

Every morning management came round the cubicles with trays of coffee, tea or juice and a cookie or whatever sweet they were serving that day. My coffee was brought with a cheery welcome by no less than the General Manager.

I was absolutely stunned by this nicety. There was a huge airy atrium where workers ate lunch. There was a ping pong table there, and a volley ball net out on the beautifully manicured lawn...it was absolutely the happiest place I've ever worked, and unfortunately for me they had 0 turnover. Little amenities go a long way in a scanty economy, and more companies ought to be arsed to treat employees better.
Thanks for bringing it up Willie.

Willie_W said...

Hard to believe they had 0 turnover in the current drug economy. But there you go. Focus pocus.