I knew a girl Julie at my first job at a travel agency. She was the receptionist and the only sane one around. I met her again when I started working at Nariman point. Now she was the receptionist at a petrochemicals firm. One day when I visited her office, she introduced me to all her colleagues and boss. All were young and very jovial. So unlike the earlier place where Julie and me had met. The boss was young and dashing. I thought only fuddie duddies got a chance to head an office. Then came the invitation to have dinner with their office colleagues. Julie was all excited and said all of them want me to join. We went to the Garden Cafe at The Ambassador hotel. I had changed from my work clothes. I was excited to be in Garden cafe though I had been there earlier. I didn't understand much about office politics those days. This looked like one small happy family. All were cracking jokes and most were related to their office which I did not follow. I tried to give a few witty ones myself. All were acting hip and cool and I did not want to be left behind. Julie was happy that though she was a receptionist , she was a part of this party and her friend was invited. I could not figure out who had hots for me, the boss or the colleagues.
At some point the humor started going haywire. The office politics started showing up in the conversation and the subtle snubbing along with the laughter. I got into the verbal duel with the Boss. I was not scared as I did not work for him. I do not recall the conversation or where it was heading. I just remember feeling very hurt and threatening to leave. He said "You are free to go. No one is stopping you".I did not leave. At some point, I started crying. The boss did not apologize. He continued talking to others. I left the hotel. I think one of the office guys came down to drop me to a cab. I was so cut up and cross about that dinner. It put me off these young dashing bosses for ever. Some part of me was scared that Julie should not get the brunt of what I had done or not done. She did call to check on me and apologize.I did not know how to react or what to say. Tactful I wasn't till then. I was embarrassed about crying. There was a lot of fear about making fun of Julie's Boss in front of Julie. Maybe he did not appreciate that. I was naive. I learnt not to join in any one's office bonhomie. I learnt that hierarchies have to be maintained at all costs and in all circumstances.I think I had till then not understood that friends and colleagues are two different kinds of people and never the twain shall meet. One party and so many lessons.