Having written a post about my routines, it's time to follow up with a post about a specific instance in which that routine was broken. This time it was the Rocket Mobile Christmas Party. (I was going to call it the Annual Rocket Mobile Christmas Party, but that's just silly.) Actually, I think it was a Holiday party. Which is totally fine with me; we weren't celebrating the birth of Jesus during this party, so it would be disingenuous to call it a Christmas party.
I've been looking forward to it for a while; we got the invitations back in October so I knew a lot of thought was going into it. Casual conversations with other Rocket Mobilers (Mobilites? Mobilians?) revealed that previous parties had been a lot of fun. One interesting characteristic was that the attire was semi-formal. Fortunately for me, I'd stolen a nice sportcoat from my dad over Thanksgiving, so I wore that, some khakis, a gray dress shirt and my favorite blue tie. (Not to be confused with the other blue tie I own. Actually, the other tie I own.)
The party was at the California Cafe in Old Town Los Gatos. (Weird synchronicity: the comparable party at Cerner was for the "completion" of the 2004 project, and was held at Californos in Westport. Two companies, both California-related restaurants. Peculiar.) It's a very nice restaurant, maybe not five stars but certainly attractive and formal. This year we had a whole wing to ourselves close to the bar.
The first hour or so was just cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and conversation. I really enjoy settings like this; as I keep hammering home, I am a shy person, BUT I can extrovert myself in situations that are suited to it, and enjoy doing so. (Sure, liquor helps, but the same pattern has held since junior high for me.) In other words, if I'm at work it's hard for me to just wander into someone's cube and start talking about their weekend or whatever; at work I'm in working-mode and don't socialize well. But when I'm at a party I'm in socializing-mode and it feels natural to start asking people hypothetical questions and start drawing them out.
Significant others were invited to the soiree, and more than half the people brought along a wife or girlfriend. (We only have two female employees, one of whom did bring her boyfriend.) I was happy to see that the typical corporate thing didn't happen, where all the employees end up in one bunch and their spouses are left alone looking forlorn. It helped that some were coming for their third or fourth year; beyond that, though, this was a night that was about fun and not about work, and people made an effort to make sure everyone was introduced and included.
We sat down for the meal itself, a very delicious three-course affair. I sat down with Mike and his fiancee Judy and we had a great long conversation about the Bay area (he is a native and has never moved more than 15 miles), San Jose, SJSU (where they met), other companies we'd worked at, movies, and a bit of speculation about the table full of gift bags. Full up, we turned our attention to Wayne as he stood up to give his speech.
It was short and wonderful, a little emotional too, as he praised everyone for all their work. For those of you who don't know, our company wrote a large chunk of the software that is built into the new Motorola Razr V3, the first Razr for Verizon, which was just released two weeks ago. This is a huge accomplishment and a phenomenal step for our company, and even though I personally didn't write any of that code, it is directly responsible for me being at Rocket Mobile today. Anyways, he thanked us all and said "Every company I've worked at has its A-team, B-team and C-team. Rocket Mobile has more A-team players than I've ever seen before." We applauded him regularly throughout, and some of the more inebriated individuals added their voices to the accolades. We were getting some looks from the rest of the restaurant. I'm sure they were impressed.
The Person of the Year award was bestowed upon Young, who was well on his way towards winning an entirely different award for that night. Robert presented Wayne with a poster we had all signed of his "It's here!" email. And Wayne and Robert put on Santa hats and started handing out the gift bags.
It was a wonderful Holiday present. Ask me sometime and I'll show it to you.
The party broke up somewhat and the rest of the night people mingled between the tables. A lot of bonding took place. I regretfully took my leave later and headed out after thanking Wayne and everyone else.
At one point in the evening, I said, "Eric is a vengeful god who demands tribute!" For which I was told, "Chris, you're going to fit in well here."
Several incriminating photos were taken that night, but not by me. I'll try and track them down and then store them on the blog for safekeeping.