I'm actually looking forward to the festive season this year – and not because of the dessicated turkey, uncomfortable family occasions or (heaven forbid) goodwill to all men. No, I'm talking about the Big Shop Christmas Bonus – which as a fully-fledged buyout guy with his very own portfolio company, I'm eligible for at last. Now that I've conclusively proved I can liberally spend other people's money, it's only fair that I should get some more of my own.
The Christmas bonus is a long-standing tradition at the Big Shop, and it will take more than a few LPs moaning about alignment to put paid to it. It's these little traditions and rituals that make the Big Shop the Big Shop, rather than some dismal US mid-market outfit run by men called Chip, buying data processing companies in the Mid-west.
This year we’re having a 'New Year Fiesta' in February again instead of a Christmas party. The official explanation is that it reflects the firm's thriving diversity – we're now into double figures for non-white males – and shows LPs we’re trying to save them money, although my boss says that our head honcho John T. Leviathan just refuses to acknowledge any festival predicated on the idea of a higher power than himself.
But we'll have our own unofficial Christmas celebration, of course, in the nearest no-proles-allowed bar. And I can only imagine the damaging effect on morale if people weren’t able to exercise their right to buy extravagantly expensive beverages to celebrate the imminent arrival of their bonus cheque.
Last year I wasn’t even drinking because I had to go back to the office (I hadn't quite finished the FT) – and I still ended up with a credit card bill for £375. Still, it's experiences like those that really build deep bonds between colleagues. Like with me and that guy from IT I was chatting to. Or was it Legal? Wait – maybe that was the summer party. Anyway, the point still stands. In fact, its value-add is so clear that to this day, I'm still amazed that they wouldn't let me expense my champagne bill.
Nobody's quite sure when they're going to announce the bonuses – “if, Pye, not when” my boss says wearily every week when I ask him about it – so I'm utilising this period to optimally ingratiate myself. I've been making nice with the new operating partner (JTL’s latest wizard wheeze – an ancient ex-industry exec who looks like he could literally drop dead at any second). And I’ve now bought my boss 27 coffees so far in November. He keeps telling me that I'm wasting my money as it's nothing to do with him, but I figure that the potential upside outweighs the potential downside so substantially that I might as well carry on regardless. Like Pascal's Wager, but with the added incentive of Starbucks reward points.
In fact, the only bad news to report at the moment – and make sure you keep this to yourselves, it’s totally off the background record – is that there appears to be a rogue Big Shop employee who’s not fully entering into the spirit of the festive fun (a.k.a. bonus anticipation).
This disloyal charlatan has been leaving extremely derogatory notes in the public areas of the office. A few weeks back, the first person in the office (me, natch) found a note on the kitchen door saying “Abandon carry all ye who enter here’. I was so disgusted that I emailed a picture of it to the entire London office expressing my displeasure. Then last week there was another note in the gents’ toilet saying: ‘Flush here to see what happened to our GP commit”. And most shockingly of all, an anonymous email went round on Monday with a picture of JTL and the caption: ‘John Leviathan: firing buyout guys since 1982’. I sincerely hope the treasonous bounder responsible for this filth gets to feel the fullness of His Higher Power before long.