August 08, 2004

Happy Hours

The manager for Taiwan sales was retiring at the "suggestion" of the uncle. Guy's getting a nice pension (unlike some people), so it's not as if he's being thrown out on the street. Nevertheless, for the sake of saving face there's a big retirement dinner with everyone strongly "suggested" to attend. Heck, it's not as if we had better things to do on a Friday night. There's a nice new restaurant in the big shopping building next door to the office that provided a convenient location, and people could walk over after work. The food was stunningly mediocre, but the company was buying the booze and uncle must've cut a deal with his dealer, as there were multiple cases of Ballantine to lubricate the social gears, albeit the 12-year variety rather than the 21-year whiskeys in his personal stash. People skipped the shot glasses and went straight to the wine goblets and promptly went about the business of getting hammered. David and I avoided the head table and sat with the Foreign Sales people that we've been working with. As the new kids we were obligated to drink many, many cups, or so we were told. Joanna was leaving KB, so she got the business as well. Poured the entire bottle of whisky into a jug full of ice cubes, which made it dilute and easy-drinking, but there was still a whole damn bottle's worth of liquor in there. Actually, make that two bottles, over the course of the night. And we were pikers compared to the other tables, especially the table next to us, where some of the more senior ladies were sitting. It's slightly surprising how many senior female managers KB has, and in important departments, too. They're all hideously competent, of course, and drinking people under the table is one of their areas of competency. A few of the guys went by to toast their bosses, got stuck because they were too polite to leave, and had to take their shots like men. The poor receptionist girl probably thought sitting with the nice aunties would be better than sitting with all the random icky guys. By the end of the night she was so drunk that she passed out on the sidewalk. One of the ladies had to accompany her home in the taxi. It was a little awkward explaining to her folks how their little girl got falling-down drunk on company time.

Meanwhile, the rest of us were heading out to the 西門 branch of Holiday KTV. There was a closer one, but it was already fully booked, which you'd expect on a Friday night. I was pretty hammered, well past the buzz stage and almost into the puke zone. On the other hand, David was going, and so were a couple of the managers, which meant that it had the uncle's tacit approval. It was probably the right thing to do socially anyway. Plus I've never been to a good old Asian karaoke place before. So I hopped in the cab and off we went. They called in some other people who used to work at KB, and we had a dozen people packed into the soundproof room. And before the night was done we managed to go through four more bottles of whisky (cleaned them out of the Macallan, so had to finish up with some good old Johnny Walker). Thankfully I had some free time to watch some MTV before I started work, so I recognized at least a few songs that I could sing along to, not that Asian pop songs are all that complicated musically anyway. I think the polite thing to do would've been to drink until I threw up and passed out, which was what happened to a couple of the junior guys, but I guess if I have to demand special treatment, not having to puke isn't that much to ask. Yeah, yeah, in Asian societies it's more important to fit in, etc. Fuck that.

Caught a cab home with David and Jack about 2:30am, leaving the rest of the crowd to start in on the fifth bottle of Johnny. By then I wasn't even drunk, just a little headachy and dehydrated from the alcohol. Shoulda drank more? At least I didn't have to go to work the next day, unlike some of the party people. Yikes.

Posted by mikewang on 04:36 PM