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Let’s Be Careful Out There


Here is a piece I wrote back in 2005. I hope you enjoy it.

This week is likely the sweet spot of the holiday party season for most working folks. Thankfully, there are a few employers who still open up the bar and turn those in their employ loose with some free alcohol to celebrate the holiday season.

Of course, the larger the organization, the less likely this is. Big corporations tend to be managed by stuff-shirted folks who constantly worry about the bottom line and potential liability, but are really just deathly afraid of spending even a couple hours with their employees in a social setting.

The Banc Investment Group’s “Banc Investment Daily” email report from December 6, 2005, urged its banker readers to turn the troops loose at the holiday season, because “the holiday party serves an important professional purpose–Darwinian selection.”

It turns out that people do and say the darnedest things while under the influence. Christmas party incidents are relived over and over for years at the office. Banc Investment points out that those employees who make the holiday party highlight film, “tend to do the same things at the office, but co-workers don’t notice as much.”

But, the guys who write for Banc Investment (BI) are mere observers of the holiday horseplay. “For us,” they write, “the appeal of the holiday bank party is the same as watching NASCAR. We know the bulk of the time will be a total snooze, but you have to go to see the outfits and the spectacular crashes.” Your humble scribbler can claim no such good sense, having in the past been summoned to report to higher ups the Monday after a particularly eventful Christmas bash.

The BI scribes list just some of the things you shouldn’t do at your company party, like; making “inappropriate comments, telling people what you really think of them, revealing company secrets, blurting too much personal information, busting the Saturday Night Fever moves out on the dance floor, and falling down drunk.”

Most people are under the impression that their bankers are old fuddy-duddys. Maybe from 9 to 5, but the affliction is cured with a little free booze and standing around with coworkers. “The list of slurred speech, air guitar playing, grabbing, inappropriate passes at employee spouses and loud antics are too numerous to mention,” according to BI.

They go on to list a couple of their favorite stories, one which involved a business development officer telling the bank CFO, “For $20, I will tell you everyone who has hit on your wife tonight.” And, there was a high net worth department that decided the Christmas party was a good time to argue about whose bonus should be the highest. Fisticuffs ensued, a director’s wife was knocked to the floor and hotel security was called, followed by an ambulance.

Holiday parties are “effective at highlighting trouble makers,” according to Banc Investment Daily. “Now while we admit that one banker’s inappropriate behavior is another’s entertainment, knowing where your trouble spots are is a gift worth opening every year.”

So be of good cheer this holiday season and take advantage of all the free drinks made available. But heed the words of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus in Hill Street Blues: “Hey — let’s be careful out there.”


Doug French

Douglas French is President Emeritus of the Mises Institute, author of Early Speculative Bubbles & Increases in the Money Supply, and author of Walk Away: The Rise and Fall of the Home-Ownership Myth. He received his master's degree in economics from UNLV, studying under both Professor Murray Rothbard and Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe.