They say that if a company successfully reaches the age of 10, this is an indicative for a long life and a bright future. In fact, as far I know, no one ever said that besides me. However this doesn’t make it false. Here at Code932 we believe in our own sayings and we use our own quotes. Why? Because when you believe in something you create or think, you can do it with passion and success is inevitable.
So that happened, we turned 10. And we decided that we had to celebrate this properly. Our leaders, Andrei and Dragoș, decided to keep secret all the details about the anniversary, except for the date. So no one knew anything about the place, the activities, not even about what sort of party it would be. Not even me, the person who always organizes and knows all the details of each party, team building, drinking night, birthday, game and movie night and anything social. Andrei and Dragoș said that they wanted this to be a surprise also for me. It was easier than I expected for me to cooperate. I gave in and I didn’t ask any questions, not because I was not dead curious, but because I wanted to know what surprises feel like (I don’t like spoilers anyway, they create expectations which are rarely met).
Months before the party, everyone (not me) kept asking a lot of questions with every occasion, in meetings, at lunch, during breaks or randomly, when it crossed their minds. Andrei and Dragoș were used to say ”it’s a surprise”. ”Is in in Iași? Is it in Romania? Is it on Earth?” - ”It’s a surprise.”. Then the tricky questions followed: ”Should we eat first? How should we dress? How do we get there? When will we be back home?”. Andrei and Dragoș were strong and patient, I give you that. The day before the event we started to get some clues. When we came to the office we had invitations on our desks, written by hand, with details about the time we had to be ready and the request to keep our phones close for further information. That was the moment we realised it was not just a surprise, it was also a game. And guess what, we love games! Someone knows their employees really well.
The day of the event we went home earlier and we got ready for the party. We dressed up all nice and fancy and we waited. At exactly 5:30, we received texts from Andrei with the exact time when we were going to be picked up by a car. Then he asked us to use our Whatsapp group to send clues about the location as we arrived there, but also to be careful not to give any spoilers. Many sent photos, but no one figured it out. Apparently we’re good at keeping secrets when necessary. Who knew? Now I don’t really know many things about cars, but I’m sure I was picked up by a red (”I know the colors, ok?” - woman) BMW. I asked the driver ”where are we going, sir?” and he replied briefly and straight ”I can’t tell you that”. Frankly, I was counting on him to give me that answer, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked. Everyone sent pictures which meant that I was the last one to arrive. At some point, the driver gave me an envelope and he parked in front of the theatre. ”This is it! Enjoy and have a nice evening!”. Oh, man, was I glad to have chosen to dress the way I did! I was a bit worried about being overdressed or underdressed.
In the envelope I had a ticket for a play, The Goldberg Show which is an adaptation of George Tabori’s Goldberg Variations. And I also found two notes written by hand. One of them said ”Enjoy!”, and the other one: ”After the show, we’re expecting you in front of the stage.” I went inside and I looked for the loge where my seat was. My loge was not very hard to find having tags with our company logo hanging by the door knobs. I got inside and everyone was there, all of my colleagues and their partners dressed up all fancy and with big smiles on their faces whispering ”hello” and ”welcome”. It felt like everyone was waiting for me to show up so the team could be whole and ready for the show.
We had the best spots in the entire theatre. It was the first time I didn’t need to crane my neck to actually see anything happening on stage. The play was really good, the story, the style and the symbols kept us engaged the whole time and the actors were absolutely amazing. But the most surprising thing is that the play was so fit to our team, all the symbols, parts of the story, characters, jokes and most of all, the way we combine work with life, fun and friendship. There was something for each one of us in that play and I kept hearing whispers: ”this is about X!”, ”this one is definitely for Y!”. It was like this play was dedicated to us. Andrei and Dragoș must have made some serious research when they chose The Goldberg Show for our anniversary.
When the play ended, we all went to the stage as the note indicated us. We were all so clueless because no one knew what was next. Then the photographer who was taking photos of us told us to get up the stage to take some group photos. Of course that we couldn’t be serious and look normal, because we’re not. Who likes to seem something they’re not? After the photo session we were eager to find out where we were going or if we were going anywhere, because again, no clue. So we followed Andrei and Dragoș. And there it was, the rest of the event was happening in the main hall of the National Theatre ”Vasile Alecsandri”. What? I didn’t even know this was possible.
Hostesses, waiters, a stage, microphone, spotlights, buffet and champagne. These are the elements that were easy to tell what they were for. But there were also a lot of easels and a table with some fancy brown leather boxes and some white frames. ”Ok, we still have some things to discover this evening.” Andrei and Dragoș went up the stage and gave their speeches. They were most honest, funny, and for the first time in my life, I saw them a bit nervous and overwhelmed with emotion. They said some precious words about our history, values and culture, then thanked each one of us for everything we did for the company. They also mentioned the former employees and said some words about them. It’s always nice when someone thanks you publicly for your work and dedication, but it’s really touching when you hear it from these two guys in particular.
Andrei and Dragoș invited us on stage to shake our hands and thank us again, personally. On an easel in front of the stage, they put those white frames one by one as we were going up. What were they? Famous magazine covers with each one of us in 10 years from now. The headlines were really funny and related to our passions and skills. Mine said: ”Space, final frontier? Daniela Drăgan - Teambuilding on Venus for Code932 20th anniversary.” (what do you know, I love everything space related!). We all said a couple of words. Some cried, some almost cried, some could barely speak and some even hugged them. I was touched not only because they know us so well, but also because I felt that this little game with the magazine covers means more than this. It means that they believe we’ll still be a team 10 years from now and we are going to be awesome and successful.
But we got more really awesome presents, the fancy brown leather boxes that I mentioned before contained custom fountain pens with our names engraved on them and our personal favorite quotes on the inside of the boxes. At the end of their speech, Andrei and Dragoș invited us to drink a glass of champagne together and to write some words for our colleagues on the framed magazine covers that were placed on the easels. In 10 minutes all the prints were full of messages. I got some really touching words which made me feel loved and appreciated. And I bet I’m not the only one who felt that.
Then we laughed and drank and talked and we had a good time like we always do when we’re together. At some point, Andrei told us that the same cars that brought us would drive us back home. But we were so joyful and we were having so much fun! We told him that we didn’t want it to end. Andrei looked a bit surprised but he came with a solution in about 1.5 seconds: ”ok, we’re taking this to a pub!”. So the cars took us to Trumpets, the pub where we usually spend our after-parties, birthday parties and drinking nights. But only after each one of us posed for photos individually in the beautiful building of the National Theatre. Oh, and the ladies received pretty white roses before they left.
We had to choose if we wanted to go home or to the pub. We all chose to continue the party. Needless to say that we had a lot of fun, we drank and laughed. Although we couldn’t stay for too long because we had work in the morning. We went home and at about 2 in the night, Andrei sent us a message on our Whatsapp group which said: ”We’re preparing another surprise for you. It’s not over.” I thought he was joking. But the next morning, when I got to the office, I realised he was not. I found another envelope with a card written by hand which said: ”Thank you for your participation”, a photo frame with the photo from the night before and a bowl with green reindeer moss.
I feel like all the things they carefully prepared for us, all the little details - the handwriting, the place , the dress code, the roses, the color of the moss, the green ties of the waiters, the reservation signs, the green ribbon with our anniversary logo - all the presents and surprises were not random. They were not made only to be there, they all had a particular meaning. I think that Andrei and Dragoș worked hard to organise this event to the last detail and I bet it wasn’t easy for them to keep it a secret. It was an honest anniversary and it was for us.
Days before the event, we did have a lot of guesses about what the surprise anniversary was going to be about, but none of us thought of this or at least something related. It was a real surprise for everyone and it was amazing. We felt important, we felt appreciated and we felt that these two people, our leaders and friends, they care about us a lot. This is what I saw on every face that evening. This team not only shares work, fun and experiences, but also feelings and emotions.
Like I said during my brief speech, I was looking for a team, that’s why I accepted to work with Code932. And I hope to be around for the 20-year anniversary, with the same people and many dreams turned real.