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The month Captain No Friends morphs into Mister Popular

Ah, December. I know what you’re thinking, I’m going to write a lovely little message about the changing of the seasons, the approach of the holidays and generally wax lyrical about the joys of giving.

Wrong.

You see, I’m the Managing Director of a company. And if there is one thing every Managing Director dreads, even more than the end of year accounts and being audited, it’s December.

December is the time of year where you have to finish off all those little projects. You know, the ones you left outstanding for a while because they are fiddly, costly, boring or just plain irritating. Somehow, all of those need to be “boxed off” by the end of the year. Which usually wouldn’t be an issue. Except for the tiny little fact that it’s December.

It is the time of year where you have to travel the length and breadth of the of the company to personally visit every single person you have ever worked with, certainly if you ever wish to work with them ever again. And, of course, you mustn’t make it look like you are visiting them because you have to, you have to appear to want to visit them. But, like Santa, you have to somehow reach everyone before Christmas Day. Which makes the task all the more stressful.

Don’t forget, it’s the season of giving, which means you have to buy gifts for clients, including the ones you really hardly know. Which means the annual brainstorm with your staff to frantically try to remember if they ever mentioned a hobby or maybe the names of their partners and kids, if they have kids. “John, is that the son or the dog?” *blank faces*

Of course, once you have a gift and a card, which hopefully contains the names of their family and not characters from a book they once mentioned, you have to somehow crowbar them into an already packed schedule. While also appearing casual and like you’re only really bothering with seeing them anyway. Which is extra hard because, of course, every other supplier wants to see them as well. Suddenly, Captain No Friends is Mister Popular and trying to squeeze a fifteen minute window for a drink and shoving a, hopefully relevant, gift under his nose seems impossible.

Not to mention that these people are bound to be spread out all over the country. Which means hours in the car or on the train, if it’s running, going to see people you hardly know to present them with a gift that may or may not be well-received. Let’s not mention the heart-stopping moment when you know the card you have just handed over mentions the wife and suddenly they speak of the messy divorce they are in the middle of.

During these, hopefully short, meetings you are regaled with supposedly amusing anecdotes from their office Christmas party. Stories about people you don’t know, and, frankly, don’t care about. To be honest, you usually barely know the person you are meeting and you certainly don’t want to add to your information overload by finding out that Sandra from accounts is sleeping with everyone in the tax department.

In the back of your mind you’re thinking about everything that needs to be done for your own Christmas. My family has a unique habit of throwing down gauntlets every now and then, to ensure a perfect Christmas is had by all. “Oh, you’re in London? Then find me a plastic Santa to stab into a Yule log or CHRISTMAS WILL BE RUINED!” my mother says, maniacal laugh unheard but certainly implied.  I spent the last two days of November scanning Oxford Street looking for Christmas cake decorations. Only to be told once I had found them that, of course, we now need a cake board to put said Yule log onto.  “Aren’t the lights on Regent Street beautiful?” Yes, they are powered by my rage.

But right now I don’t have time to wonder about when I’ll be putting my Christmas tree up, what I’ll be buying people and if I’ll ever have time to visit the Winter Wonderland in town (I won’t). I’m too busy trying to remember if Tristan’s partner is called David, or if I’m just making an assumption that someone called Tristan would be gay and wondering if I’m a bad person for assuming that. Although, he does have immaculate facial hair.

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