OPINION: Something approaching envy mixed with disdain was experienced this week when witnessing shabby conga lines of workers wandering from pub to pub on their annual end-of-year work do.
The disdain was for those sweating it out in Father Christmas costumes doing their Bad Santa interpretations (that fine film has a lot to answer for) and confusing any innocent children left in the world who believe there to be only one hallowed-be-thy-name Santa - his address, the polar region.
Disdain, too, for the profusion of camel toes spotted in the conga lines, while the envy was reserved for the camaraderie, the collective experience of saying sayonara, another one bites the dust, and goodbye to all that.
Not to mention indulging in, or quelling mandatory outbreaks of booze-fuelled internecine spats.
In olden times when this scribe was a stripling lass and worked fulltime, Christmas bashes would be followed by angst-ridden telephone calls conducted the morning after for forensic debriefs about who said or did what to whom, and how it all ended up.
"For goodness sake," we would say with bogus bravado, "I don't think it was that bad, no-one defecated on the editor's tie."
I have been opining about this to various friends of late, saying that this year I really ought to stage, as threatened in many a year gone by, an end-of-year work do for those who toil at home, don't get to claim sick leave or holiday pay, and have to shell out for their own ACC.
Yes, the benefits of working at home are many, such as not having to rise at a prescribed time and search the rack or locate something boring and appropriate to wear for the workplace from the mound in the corner of the room.
If one is a procrastinator, there is endless housework to be put to rights before a single word is typed on the page, with flower water in the vase changed every three days, and endless tours of the dwelling to find which sunny spot the feline has retired to for his nap.
Once located, the domestic animal's slumber is constantly interrupted by its owner slobbering over its fine qualities - its good looks and profound soulfulness, as it looks up testily, stopping short of plunging the few fangs it has left in its cakehole deep into the hand that feeds it, as if to say: "Oh, do bugger off." In the absence of a workplace bully, the Fir Sir has manfully stepped up to the plate.
Working from home also means you take on the role of meeter and greeter of the various EQC workers who blither on to the property then blither off again, and get used to the week day departing rhythms of neighbours as they walk, ride, taxi and drive off to work, leaving you the master of your own universe, like an astronaut left alone on the Moon staring at rubble Earth with nothing to do but send off the next contribution to the cosmic joke book.
I used to fancy myself as having the ancillary role of a mean curtain-twitcher but have resigned from that post after hearing what I imagined were bins being put out next door and failed to investigate a burglary in full swing.
Then last Monday I failed to observe my own burglary, the uplifting of my organic waste green bin which has vamooshed into thin air.
Being a trusting soul I thought someone had mistakenly taken in mine and would oblige by wheeling it back out on to the road again, so I left phoning the city council till Wednesday.
When I did make the call, I was told the landlord would be charged a hundred and something dollars for a replacement because I hadn't reported the bin missing within 24 hours.
Feeling like a bit player in an episode of the TV show Without a Trace, I objected profusely only to be told that actually, there had been quite a lot of publicity about this matter lately.
Indeed I had heard about the epidemic of stolen bins post quake but was not aware of the fine print and the 24-hour report time.
Consequently, I have put off the evil day of ordering a new one till today - bin day having adopted a Mr Micawber (Dickens) approach that: something will turn up, hopefully the green bin.
Besides providing a depositary for food scraps and gardening waste it, like its bigger yellow and red brothers, will make a very good bar leaner for my al fresco, home-alones, end-of- year bash.
That's if it happens.
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