Before we could light the grills and clink our drinks, I had to arrive at Parukarka Park to reserve a grill for us and fight off anyone who thought otherwise. There were three grills with three accompanying picnic tables in the dirt patch vicinity. As I arrived, a pair of gents had shown up and claimed a grill for themselves. That left me with two, and I guarded them fiercely.
My marketing cohorts arrived two hours later in vehicles packed with food, drinks, games, grilling accessories, and a few helpers: Honza, Tereza, and Maja. We dragged everything out of Lukas’s white panel van, set up the MyQ flag, and got to work. We unloaded cases of beer, bags of ice, and enough meat and veggies to start our own farmers’ market.
Honza took the wire brush out and rigorously cleaned the grill grate like a kid brushing their teeth before a dentist appointment. I grabbed the 10 kg bag of charcoal and prepared the heat for our meat. The rest of the crew filled the coolers, prepared the veggies, and set up our tables with the rest of our grilling paraphernalia.
As the clock reached 6:00 pm, our colleagues started to trickle in by foot and car from every direction. It was an open invitation and, before I knew it, we were more than 40-deep with colleagues, dogs, friends, and family. The beer had cooled, blankets were laid, food was cooking; we were ready to go.
As with most of our company-wide events, people began the event with friends from their own department. As the evening went on, and more food and alcohol was consumed, the departments started to mix. There was so much laughter and hoopla that the radio being played by the other grillers was drowned out. We were in full swing.
Since we had two grills and no appointed grilling master, a few people took turns monitoring the meat and turning the veg. The rule seemed to be, “if you brought it, you can cook it.” Finished food started piling up and there was more than enough to go around: burgers, sausages of varying size, paprika, zucchini, silver-wrapped hermelin cheese, bread, chips, and even a couple of desserts.
Though we love food and drink, we didn’t just sit around and stuff ourselves silly. Eventually the badminton rackets and shuttlecock made an appearance, as well as a Frisbee and football. We had a croquet set, too, but we never set it up. We didn’t have a net for badminton, but we made do. A few of our colleagues from South Africa later turned the badminton supplies into a makeshift cricket game.
As the sun started to sink behind the trees and hills, those who had brought their young ones started to make their way back home, but we raged on. The darkness didn’t deter us, and we were still knee deep in alcoholic beverages and food late into the evening.
As the remaining coals turned to ash, I helped pack up the uncooked food and toss out empty cans, bottles, and food-stained paper plates. Even as I made my exit around 10:30 pm, I could still hear the last of my colleagues joking and laughing.