I watched the Halloween episode of The Office last night. Yes, I tore myself away from The World Series to get my weekly fix of the crazy, wacky shenanigans of the gang at The Office.
By the way, GO PHILLIES! But I digress...
When I moved to California, I worked in a major corporate travel office where business professional attire was a daily must.
As Halloween approached, and everyone became increasingly excited, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Halloween came and I realized that people really looked forward to sharing their real selves with each other...all under the guise of an office event.
Once I told my kids about the fact that people at my office dressed up, they were ecstatic that Mom should do it too. I had capitulated and gone in as Robin Hood. At 5'10" it was the only costume I thought comfortable enough for my 60 minute commute. In fact, I wore pants over my tights and finished my get-up in the bathroom at work, not daring to be seen on the road or in the business park in a Halloween costume.
I was truly amazed at the steps some of my colleagues had taken to get the perfect fit and look. Still relatively new to California, I did not realize that many of my colleagues were aspiring actors and actresses. Many had already been in paid roles or were always auditioning or waiting for the big break.
One shift manager, always the comic, came in a complete, couture bridal attire, with two "bridesmaids" to accompany him and be at his beck and call for the entire shift. One company owner, usually stoic and professional, shaved his beard and goatee and came to work, fully made up as his very pregnant wife - which was hysterical. Turns out he had grown the beard and goatee for months to add impact when he came in for his big reveal.
One supervisor, known for her abrasive manner, appropriately came in as Cruella deVil and was lauded for doing so.
What struck me about that day, as I sat in my safe, Robin Hood get-up, was the energy that went through the office. It seemed easy for people to stay in character and be what they wanted to be for the whole day. Conversations were no holds barred as shifts changed and staff came and went. People came in early and stayed beyond their schedules to hang out, eat and just see each other.
We worked in a call center, and even though our callers might not have perceived the difference, we hope, the folks in the office certainly had a blast being these "characters" that revealed much about ourselves.
When the costumes went away the next day and we went back to "normal" corporate attire, there was a palpable feeling of routine and weariness. Some of that was no doubt because many of my co-workers were hungover from going to the famed Halloween parade at Santa Monica pier on Halloween night.
Aside from that though, I think people were somewhat unhappy going back to the corporate masks many of us wear to work every day.
With the Halloween costume, we can call people as we see them...crazy, stupid, funny, back stabber, silly, angry, evil or hellish.
Not so, the other 364 days of the year. Do that and you could end up in HR or court!