Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Corporate Trough

Business Diners.

They conjure up a mood of back room deals over £1,000 bottles of wine. Of smug corporate with belly’s spilling over their belts, chowing down while the little guy eats bread. As in any stereotype there is grains of truth, and bucket loads of untruth based on mostly what people would like to believe.

I’ve done lots of them. To be honest I’ve had some truly amazing meals in some of the best restaurants going. At its best, it can be a highly civilised, jovial affair with people you like and respect. Two of my top five most memorable meals have been corporate funded. I have many many fond memories of being taken by locals around the world taking me out to their dearest and favourite restaurants.

A lot though, are not so fun. The joviality is forced, the mood dire and their can be painful silences as everyone around the table thinks hard of something to say. You can be sitting across the table with people you dislike, or even loath. Some of the conversations can be cringingly bad. Boasting seems a necessary part of such events.

Last night I had one of the meals that tended towards the later. My core team, and the leadership team from our key supplier on the big mysterious project went out to have a celebratory meal. We went to what is normally a truly fine Italian restaurant, but the service was appalling, and the food mediocre last night.

I had to sit next to a man I’d been angrily arguing fault and cost with earlier in the day. He’s OK, really, but one of those corporate men who refuses to admit fault on his own companies behalf, but is happy to ladle blame in your direction. A nice enough guy, but not someone I’d invite over for Sunday lunch.

So I put a smile on my face for everyone else around us, who really deserved a good night out for a hard won and successful project. We talked and chatted and there were a few painful silences, but not many. It was, at best, an all right evening.

However, it won’t be entering the list of my top five most memorable meals. It won’t even be entering the top one hundred.


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