I work as a contractor in software design for one of the Silicon Valley companies that got started by a couple of guys in a garage and eventually became a huge monolithic multinational corporation that loses more money in a hour than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. And no, it’s not one of the newer garage companies you might be thinking of; it’s the one that built the expensive calculator you’ve had buried in a box in the closet since college, at least one of the printers you’ve owned and possibly the PC you’re reading this on.
A week or so after Thanksgiving break, posters proclaiming the “IT Holiday Potluck Lunch” were hung throughout the floor with accompanying sign-up sheets in the break area. Longtime employees began buzzing about the spread the company brought in as well as the sweet prizes that would be raffled off with one ticket for each toy donated.
A few days before the big day I dutifully signed up to bring in a dish and bought a small toy to donate; part of being a contractor in the Valley is a desperate desire to belong so we’re suckers for any remotely team like activity.
Then the day before the shindig, signs much less elaborate than the original posters began popping up with “Potluck is for __ Employees Only”.
“Surely they must be speaking of uninvited guests,” I thought aloud. “Nope,” one of the older contractors laughingly told me, “No contractors allowed; we get paid to work not to party! “
The next day as several hundred laughing and smiling “employees” lined up for a 2 hour party with loud music, food, games and sweet prizes, long faced contractors packed up their laptops and other belongings in preparation for their search for alternate work spaces away from the Holiday cheer. Merry Christmas!