Saturday, August 27, 2005

Picnic at Castle Rock

Last Sunday we pointed the car east, then north, and drove nearly an hour to the company picnic. The temperature reached the 80’s, which is moderate for a summer day in Contra Costa County. We exited the freeway to a busy suburban boulevard in Walnut Creek. As we drove inland, the houses got bigger, and the traffic dwindled. The Arabian horse stables on the left were a sign that we were nearing our destination. Nestled in the hills at the end of a winding road, Castle Rock Park is a favorite spot for group outdoor outings.

One nice thing about my company is that it doesn’t stint on the annual picnic. Employees can invite anyone, and some bring friends as well as family members . There’s plenty of food (steak, ribs, chicken, grilled vegetables, salads, desserts), an open bar, and kid-centered activities. Each family gets a bag filled with tschotkes; this year we got colorful headware, and the bag itself was a durable keepsake, suitable for travel.

The picnic is usually skipped by singles and young couples, who have better things to do on the weekend. The senior executives always make an appearance, however, and make it a point to mingle with everyone, not just those whom they meet with every day. For most organizations I’ve found it to be true that the social niceties are observed by the higher-ups. Yes, they make the big bucks, but they (and their spouses) have to be on their best behavior more than you or I. People are watching and judging.

I chatted with my colleagues’ spouses, some of whom I had not seen for years, and passed the afternoon in the shade. The boys played volleyball and tried their hand at some contests---ones where everyone wins a prize. We left at 4:30 for home and light dinner.

Limbo contest at the picnic. It was won by a young person.

We stopped at 99 Ranch on the way home. They have a large selection of mooncake.

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