Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Summer's here, which means it's time for the annual company picnic. I don't know what it is about hanging out for an afternoon with the people Matt works with, but I dread it. I don't know why -- they are all nice, they really are. I guess I'm not one for chit-chatting with strangers, and at a company party that's what you do. Chit-chat.

Here's how it usually goes down: We drive to the party. The kids head straight for the giant jumper, Matt wanders off to talk with co-workers for the afternoon and I am stuck at a table with some strange woman who hates being there just as much as me. One time I spent 2 hours listening to a woman talk about her Beanie Baby collection. I found it a little alarming that a grown woman without children was so passionate about Beanie Babies, which is pretty rude of me since I've got quirks of my own -- like keeping a running list of movie stars I've seen in person.

This year, the company picnic was in San Diego. We drove down to Point Loma and pulled up to a beach with an array of easy-ups adorned with Hawaiian garb. Matt said "This is it." We all got out of the car and schlopped our way over to the picnic as I uttered the same thing I say every year "Promise me that we won't have to stay more than an hour!" (Which by the way, never happens.)

Matt immediately wandered off and I was stuck with two kids who were too big for the inflatable toys. They started whining "This is soooooooo lame!"

I lectured them. "Kids! We need to do this for Dad! Stop complaining and go have fun!"

But in my head I was whining too because this was the first year that we've attended the John Deere company picnic and we didn't know a soul. At least when Matt worked for Hunter I could track down Beanie Baby lady and ask her if she'd added anything to her collection. Now I had to start all over.

We sat down at a table and I heard a voice over a loud speaker say "Bingo is starting in 5 minutes!!" That was a huge relief. I could get lost in the world of Bingo for a few hours. I said to Eden and Claire "Grab some Bingo cards, at least two for each of us. This might be fun." They stomped over to a big bin on the grass and picked out some cards.

As the game began, the announcer said "We are playing Big T and the winner will have their pick of a Tommy Bahama beach umbrella, or a skim board." The kids were immediately hooked.

As we sat there playing (but not winning), two women sat down beside us. They had Bingo cards too. I don't know how it happened but in-between games, one of the women said "I finally got some rhubarb in my garden this year." That's all it took.

I said "Rhubarb? I love rhubarb! I canned some last week!"

The lady replied
"You can rhubarb??? Me too!!"

We set down our Bingo cards and started to talk. Then two other women moseyed over and began talking about books. Pretty soon there was a flock of us chatting away about book clubs, recipes, and travel. I forgot all about the time and enjoyed the afternoon.

Not long after that, I noticed Claire had left the table and was gabbing away with another teenage girl as they sat together on the grass. They discovered they were the same age and shared the exact same birthday. How often does that happen! Then they heard there was a Limbo contest and ran off arm in arm.

I tell you, that Claire can Limbo. She was beaten by an adult man, but she hung in there until the very end.

Eden .... I lost him after the first Bingo game when he discovered the ice cream bar.

Four hours passed just like that. It ended up being a great day. We left the beach with sunburns, and the phone numbers of new friends.

I think we've all changed our minds about the annual picnic.


Jenni said...

We went to my hubby's company picnic once. Just once, even he didn't have so much fun! But geeeez, if I could go to a picnic like that, might have to change my mind!

Glad that four hours passed and you hardly noticed and were able to make new friends! How awesome!

dandee said...

what a happy surprise of a day. so glad you had a nice time.

Bethany @ Organic Enchilada said...

I have that same kind of attitude when it comes to company stuff. It can be awkward. I'm so glad to hear you had a good time! What a relief, huh? I would be hooked on an ice cream bar, too. :)

meg duerksen said...

how nice!
i always act like it's punishment but end up having a decent time every time. :)
glad yours was good.
and you are so right to say "we have to do this for dad!" good for you.