Since it’s the holiday season, let’s take a break from all this high tech & business stuff to look at the human side of HIS vendors.
How various HIS vendors celebrate Xmas through –
Yes, despite the bottom-line profit motivation and 90-day earnings-per-share pressures, vendors are extremely old-fashioned when it comes to Xmas, and their parties reflect their culture. The vendor Xmas parties I remember most fondly were:
McAuto – an office “open house” where you took the kids.
HIS Inc. – families too, where my son first played video games!
But there is one vendor in particular where no one would dare think of bringing their kids to the wildest Xmas parties of all!
Indeed, some thought twice about bringing their spouses to:
SMS’ First Xmas Bash
Way back in 1969, SMS’ first year, the firm was still pretty small (under 50 FTEs), and there was no Xmas “tradition” yet…
We were all based in King of Prussia (only 1 regional office in LA), so when a Xmas party was announced, it drew everyone !
It was held at the Valley Forge Tavern (which later blew up when a boiler exploded!) in KOP, our favorite watering hole for lunch, and in late Dec., SMS rented out the whole joint for the party.
Pictured on the left are two young IDs couples decked out in their finest:
- Me & my unfortunate wife Judy
- Virgil Scott & his lovely wife Carolyn
These were actual period clothes, not costumes! 3-piece suits were just coming into fashion back then…
You had to be there…
VP John Marshall picked up the mike and gave out Xmas presents/awards to our two founders:
Jim Macaleer , our President, was given a gift for the “Longest Hair Award” – a little odd as you can see by his distinctly non-hirsute appearance! He proceeded to unwrap the package only to find a comb inside. Silence reigned in the hall…
Harvey Wilson , Sr. VP and sharp dresser, next got a gift for the “Loudest Tie Award” – a pair of scissors, which John removed from the box and then used to cut Harvey’s tie in half! Everyone roared…
We all expected the worst, but Jim & Harvey just joined in the laughter, enjoying the jokes & banter.
John’s daring sense of humor started me thinking…
My Turn Next!
One of the most popular TV shows back then was the Dean Martin “Roast” series, in which a bunch of stars & comics sat behind a long table and took turns giving mock tributes to one of their peers, who became the object of the insults & nasty jokes.
After being soundly “roasted,” the poor target was then given the mike, and he/she lashed back at the roasters, usually giving as many mean/funny insults as they received, many even nastier…
XMAS Party Idea!?
So my warped brain dreamed up a theme for a later Xmas party in K of P, a few years later, after SMS had grown to over 100 FTEs.
One day, I approached Big Jim with the idea of a group of us mimicking Deano, and roasting him at our upcoming Xmas party…
(remember, I was very young and even dumber at the time...)
Knowing that Big Jim would probably be the recipient of some pretty barbed wise-cracks (especially from his younger brother Terry who I had on the dais),
I tried to salvage what might be left of my career by giving Jim a book I had found chock full of insults.
I even gave him a list of the “Top 10” to use on us…
I don’t know how many of today’s image-conscious CEOs would have acquiesced to being roasted in front of their entire firm, but Big Jim was never one to shy from a fight, and to my amazement, he agreed! He kept the “Little Book of Insults” & my top 10 list…
The Big Night
So as the night of the Xmas party rolled around, I assembled a dais of fellow King-Of-Prussians who also has sufficient chutzpah ( and lack of intelligence) to dare to insult “the man” – our president
(from lefty to right on the photo on the following page):
Jack Gontarz – Admin. Mgr., in charge of keeping the lights on
John Marshall – VP of Marketing and our Master of Ceremonies
Yours Truly – looking every bit the weird hippie freak I was…
Big Jim – smiling in advance of his chance to play it for tat!
Bill Bardwell – a super-smart programming manager
Terry Macaleer – Jim’s younger brother, famous for being his wise-cracking ways even in supposedly formal settings…
It may not look as posh as Dean Martin’s roast, but we sure had the audience’s attention as one after another, we started to dig into our poor President with some of the nastiest insults imaginable.
SMS XMAS Party HIS-tory
Big Jim’s Revenge
One after another, we ripped into Jim big-time, assailing his:
“ Consideration” for calling meetings at 6PM on Fridays…
Wide variety of shirts (white), ties (blue) and shoes (wing-tip)
Willingness to hear the other side (before saying “Hell no!”)
Terry Macaleer was absolutely the nastiest, digging up stories from their childhood that would have made their mother cringe!
Through it all, Jim joined in the laughter as we all shot our wads, and then he took the rostrum and proceeded to give even better than he got! Apparently, he got the names of our “roasters” beforehand, and did some through homework on our foibles.
Surprisingly, he didn’t use any of the insults from the little book I had given him, but instead hit each one hard with his own digs.
Until he got to me: then, he unleashed the very nastiest insults from the very book that I had given him to use on the others!
Baddest of the Bad
No one else in the company knew the inside joke, as Jim hit me with the very “Top 10” list of insults I had given him to use on everyone else. Some of the best (or is it worst?):
A demitasse would fit your head like a sombrero.
A guy with your IQ should have a low voice too!
A half-wit gave you a piece of his mind, and you held on to it.
A sharp tongue is no indication of a keen mind.
He saved this nastiest one for last.
(By way of background, I was the Education Manager at the time, responsible for training new IDs (Installation Directors) & clients in the minutia of the SHAS system; add that to my obnoxious know-it-all personality and you’ll get the point)
“ Vince Ciotti: there but for the grace of God, goes God!”
The audience roared , while I shrunk very low in my chair…