Caroline Taylor, 6/6/2016

Current occupation: writer and editor
Former occupation: publications director, speechwriter, and magazine editor
Contact Information: Caroline Taylor's short stories have appeared in Work Literary Magazine (one, two, three, four occasions) and other online and print magazines. She is the author of two mystery novels and one nonfiction book. Visit her at www.carolinestories.com

 

 

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RULES FOR THE COMPANY PICNIC

 

1. Attendance Is Mandatory. Of course there are things you’d rather do on your weekend—visit your mother-in-law, scrub toilets, mow the back forty, rotate the tires, iron sheets. But your absence will be noted and held against you in your next performance review under the category labeled “teamwork.” The only exception to this rule is illness, the kind requiring hospitalization. In that event, you’d better be able to produce a doctor’s slip.

 

2. Do Not Expect to Have Fun. Fun is what little kids have. You are an adult. However, you must act like you are having fun, even when you fall flat on your face in the sack race and have to spend the remainder of the afternoon with a bag of crushed ice over your nose. The only exception to this rule is the boss, although when did the boss ever have fun?

 

3. Electronic Devices Are Prohibited. Turn them off. Leave them at home. Embrace a rare and priceless opportunity for real life face time. The only exception to this rule is the boss and his or her family. After all, somebody has to know how the Cubs did.

 

4. Drink at Your Own Peril. Yes, a brewski or five would indeed make the event marginally tolerable, but everybody—especially your significant other and the boss—will notice when you go over the limit. Some will even take notes—how you made a pass at the veep for operations in front of her husband, who used to be a linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals; how you wound up twerking it on the picnic table in front an awestruck crowd of your coworkers and your supervisor, who only drinks Perrier. The only exception to this rule is if you are the boss. Then you can get blotto without fear of retaliation (unless the chairman of the board also happens to be present).

 

5. Dress Appropriately. Hot pants are perfect for twerking, especially if you know you’re probably going to violate Rule Number 4, but why give anyone a sneak preview? The wife beater T-shirt also will be noticed, raising eyebrows for what it reveals about your hirsute, flabby physique. Flip-flops are okay for footwear, provided you do not intend to participate in the sack race, the touch football game, or any other group activity (but see Rule Number 1 regarding “teamwork”). The only exception to this rule is the boss’s spouse, whether male or female.

 

6. Let the Boss Win. Of course you know how to play the game. You quarterbacked your high school football team, after all. When the boss practically stumbles over you while carrying the ball, don’t touch! Instead, fake a sudden hamstring pull. It’s not what Coach would have liked, but Coach isn’t signing your paycheck. The only exception to this rule is that cute little sexpot Sandy, from Accounting. She can do whatever she wants.

 

7. Don’t Leave Early. Remember from Rule Number 2 that you are having too much “fun” to leave early. The beer has run out. The potato salad is probably toxic at this point. The games are over, the injuries all attended to. Some folks are yawning and experiencing early symptoms of smartphone withdrawal, but you must keep that smile plastered to your face until the boss’s backside finally disappears down the road. The only exception to this rule is if you are the boss.

 

8. Help Clean Up. Even if you’re a guy—actually, especially if you’re a guy—this earns huge bonus points and will be noticed and commented on favorably in your next performance review under the category labeled “teamwork.” If you really, really have to get away the moment the boss is gone, then at least appear to be helping to clean up. Do not delegate this task to your spouse or significant other, unless you don’t mind what happens next. The only exception to this rule is, of course, the boss or the boss’s spouse.

 

9. Turnabout Is Fair Play. Don’t refuse to attend your spouse’s or significant other’s company picnic. Didn’t they give up a weekend for you? They could have spent the time shopping or watching the Cubs get creamed or lying in a hammock under the elm tree in the backyard. And, yes, so could you. But because of Rule Number 1, Rule Number 9 must be obeyed. The only exception to this rule is if your relationship is already on the rocks.

 

10. Do Not Indulge in Post-Picnic Commentary. By e-mail, by text, by Twitter or Facebook. Unless you still imagine these things are private and won’t come back to haunt you. It’s marginally okay to burn rubber as you leave the parking lot (there will be witnesses!) but far better if you can manage to stave off the full-blown temper tantrum until a time and place where the only witness is your spouse or your significant other. The only exception to this rule is if you are the boss. Then you are perfectly entitled to issue a group e-mail (or even an old-fashioned inter-office memo) about how much “fun” everyone had at the office picnic.

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