Slowly I am getting used to the culture at work. Some things are strange, some things are fun, and some things have cheese on them and are drizzled with gravy. Read on…
I suppose Halloween is an interesting time in most American companies. I had no idea what a big deal it is – people decorate the passages of the office (there is actually a prize for the best looking corridor), and on Halloween itself, people bring their kids in to trick-or-treat from office to office.
To make the whole thing easier, the company has a thing where if you donate a certain amount to a charity of your choice (more than $25, I think it was), they give you a nice Halloween basket (like my blue Dracula one, which has gone missing actually) filled with sweets to hand out to the kids. Oh, and for each dollar you donate, the company matches another dollar to the donation, which is very nice.
Another interesting thing is the use of donuts as rewards. For various incentive programs, we give out donuts. Not just any donuts, they have to be Krispy Kremes. Now I know they are nice and all, but these guys all have a lot of money – I would think a donut would be no incentive at all. Not so. Perhaps they enjoy the nostalgia of when they were penniless students and could not afford their own donuts. Perhaps they are cheap. Pretty sure some of them are cheap.
Actually a lot of the fun things we do have to do with donating to charity. Like the Exchange Battle of the Bands. Was it a competition where people in Exchange who have bands perform to see who does the best song? Yes but more nerdy – it was Rock Band bands. That’s right, a battle of the bands for a game where people are virtual rockers – a truly excellent idea. They had set up a stage in the cafeteria with all the controllers, chairs for the audience, free snacks and root beer, and each band came up and did their thing. Some of the singers were pretty good, some were terrible, and the most popular ones were dressed up outrageously (Goths, Anime characters, Metallica knockoffs, etc…). You could vote for your favouite by paying a dollar (which went to charity). The winning band won a guitar controlled autographed by the VP of the business division (a.k.a the Big Boss).
Finally, the biggest culture shock came from being exposed to honest-to-goodness Canadian fast food. I mean traditional, French-Canadian, Atlantic provinces, Québécois fast food. It is a little something called La Poutine:
What you are looking at is: A pile of chips, with cheese curds on top (the white bits), and then warm beef gravy over the lot. It is delicious. Wikipedia has the anthropology of the thing. Cheese curds by the way, look like feta but are more chewy, and the taste is halfway between feta and mozarella (and they are warm). I though it was a bit disguisting and greasy when I looked at it (I ordered it purely based on the name and the fact that is was Canadian frickin’ fast food), but I was craving it the next day. Sadly (or fortunately, depending if you ask my stomach or my arteries), they only have it at the cafeteria inferquently.