When somebody is being recognized for her or his achievement, wouldn’t you think this person is going to be quite proud of it? Especially when an event was held in honor of this person so everybody could witness or share their proud moment; wouldn’t you think they would appreciate it if everybody’s in the ‘game’ and be nice about it?

To my surprise (or lack of cultural awareness?), people here like to ‘smash’ the proud moment by ‘grilling’ the person. At first I thought it was a coincidence, because the people in our department are like that. A nurse -let’s call her Jill- was awarded with a special recognizition (a pin with a gemstone) for her 30 years of dedication working for the clinic. During the department’s meeting, my supervisor gave a nice long speech about her. After the pin was given (along with a formal letter), somebody said, “Alright, it’s now time to grill her.”

Three different person took turns in telling embarassing stories that happenned to Jill or she did unknowingly. Jill is a sweet person who, sometimes, say something that’s written out loud without thinking or censoring it. And she’s always on a fast mode. So one day, after zooming in and out rooming patients, she called out a patient by the reason why the patient was seen, instead of their names. Good thing it was for a sore throat. Couldn’t imagine what’d happen if it was for  STD check.

Still about Jill, the other nurse told a story where Jill had to return a phone call from a nursing home. I remembered that I was the one who talked to them originally, the nurse from the nursing home was so nasty and demanding. So on my note, I wrote ‘Pissy RN’ as the caller. Not knowing that Jill would be the one who’s going to call them back. Certainly not knowing that Jill would say, “Hi, my name is Jill with Dr Smith’s office returning Pissy RN’s call.” I was told that the rest of nurses at the back hall station were wowed by that and Jill had to frantically come up with an excuse when the ‘Pissy RN’ replied, “Excuse me?”

By the third story, I could see that Jill’s face was as red as a chilli pepper. She was covering her face while saying, “Oh my god…” so many times while the rest of us were laughing so hard. I felt guilty laughing at her, so I stopped; but no body else in the room felt like I did. It’s almost like a euphoria.

A month later, in a different occassion. Hubby’s department was throwing a semi-retirement party for one of his employees who’s been working for hubby longer than I’ve been married to him. Semi-retirement was emphasized because this neat lady, let’s say Eileen, retired from a full time job working under hubby’s department and got a part time job at a different department. Eileen loves to travel and was almost like a mother to hubby. She was a very loyal employee.

In this semi-official party that was set up in a nice restaurant setting, again the word ‘grilling’ was mentioned. Some employees at first asked hubby, as the head of the department, to give toast and speech. Hubby hated the idea because he hates being in the spotlight. But he told them he’d be willing to partake in the ‘grilling’. Hubby delegated the toast and speech part to somebody else later on. The ‘grilling’ part was never heard of for the rest of the night.

So what’s the purpose of the ‘grilling’ tradition? Is it just to make the event more fun and less official? Or could it be to ‘remind’ the celebrated person not to get too snotty with their achievement and to stay humble by reminding them about some embarassing moments in the past? What would you do if you’re the celebrated person? Would you keep your cool and not overreacted or get too embarassed? I probably would, but again, it depends on how much alcohol I’d consumed by the time they’re starting to grill me.