In my twelve years span of working career, I’ve only attended about five corporate ‘Dinner and Dance’s (D&D). (Not to be confused with the various D&Ds organized by the different faculties and clubs. Actually, that I’ve also attended only once – the Engineering ball – and it wasn’t with Mike.) The first was with my first company, Dowell Schlumber in 1989. I can’t remember much about it except the fact I didn’t know many people. We were from the lab, while the rest were either from the warehouse or corporate office. Apparently it is a big event where everyone look forward to it.
I worked for DS for only 9 months before joining my uncle’s company and other than Mike’s office D&D once, and my clients’ D&Ds, where I was often more an awkward observer than a participant, I had a D&D dry spell until I join ICI in 1997.
I remember the excitement in the air weeks before the 1997 ICI D&D. Everyone was discussing what clothes they would be wearing and going shopping at every opportunity. The fact that we were located at Gateway made it very convenient to shop. My sister accompanied me to Metro Marina Square and I splurged on an ankle length red dress and various accessories. Since she was a banker, she had better dress sense that me, a Chemical sales executive serving factories in Jurong and Kallang. On that day, I had even gone to the salon to get my hair done. Did I make a splash? Nah…not even a ripple. The rest of the girls were even more flamboyant. It was the party of the year.
ICI Chemicals were sold off in 1998 and that D&D was my last.
Two nights ago, I had the honour of being invited to a school D&D. Having helped organized the event as part of my role in the PSG for the past two years, I knew the financial constraint the school had. The PSG was expected to sponsor the entertainment, including the sound system, emcee and the lucky draw prizes. The PSG cannot charged any fee, unlike the PTA in other schools and rely on the generosity of other parents to donate to the ‘Teachers’ Day Funds’. It was a torture watching the funds trickle in and many of us in the PSG were prepared to top up any difference. I hadn’t attended for the past two years (due to dengue fever last year) and had not signed up this year too (also another medical issue.) But the vice-chairmain called and personally invited Mike and I. I was really touched at having been missed and persuaded a reluctant Mike to go.
There were other schools celebrating Teachers Day D&D at Orchard Hotel too. Just to show how tight the budget was for schools’ D&Ds, the principals compared the menus and our principal assured the teachers we had a better menu. My fellow PSG colleague, an event company owner, provided a handsome and humourous emcee, whom I felt matched the standard of celebrities emcees. There were no dirty jokes (unlike all the other D&Ds) nor extreme games. He was respectful of the fact that these were teachers. The teachers themselves put up some great shows, singing and dancing. The ambience had the intimate feel of a family gathering.
I’m glad teachers had the opportunity to let their hair down too. I hope the teachers had a great time. I did, even though I was merely an observer, silently basking in appreciation to the people who had helped groom my son.