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I don't understand what beer culture has to do with the majority of the post

People who don't drink tend to view quasi-mandatory drinking as exclusionary and indicative of strange priorities. Imagine you were a non-smoker and your team regularly got together to smoke, then questioned your commitment when you didn't join them. It would heavily colour your opinion of the team dynamic and why it seemed broken to you.

Bit of a difference between passive smoking and drinking water around colleagues who are having a few drinks.

Not really. Imagine if you had a serious alcohol control problem, alcohol was a huge trigger for you, you had a family alcohol related death, you were arrested for drinking and driving, you grew up with alcoholic parents, you were removed from your parents as a child because they couldn't care for your because of their alcohol problem, etc.

I think it represents the illusion of a casual and collegial work environment. Rather it's the lube they apply before sodomizing you. My new employer is not a startup, but tries to emulate that culture. Workers are encouraged to leave at 2:00 for company booze fiestas, but I just got a warning for taking unplanned days off to be with my sick child.

If someone gave me a warning for passing on the company booze fest to be with my sick child (or for any reason really), I'd turn in my resignation on the spot. That's complete b.s.. Sorry that happened to you!

They didn't happen at the same time and it wasn't an official warning. I just get a sense of them wanting me to work more hours and maybe let my wife take care of the kids (she works in the same industry and gets the same pressure). I think they know better than to just say it bluntly, but they are applying social pressure to which I am completely immune. My wife once got a blunt "your kids are preventing you from working the requisite 70 hours" speech from a "friend" who hired her with the promise of being family-friendly. She quit the next day.

I agree. There was one casual social event at which some people drank or played table tennis, OP left early on account of their mother's health and then that early departure was raised as a secondary point by a desperately-reaching manager trying to explain why someone should do unpaid, non-compulsory overtime.

It's mainly a reference to a "party" that was held at the employers premises where beer was consumed, OP doesn't drink alcohol.

In any case, while this was apparently a pretty "lame" party, it appears to have been an important part of the culture of the firm, and OP didn't jibe with it very well.

I've experienced one party held at my (then) employer's premises. Alcohol (as I recall, mainly wine) was consumed. I don't drink.

There was thanksgiving food; there was cake; a few people brought small children; my boss played an instrument and sang for us. It was great.

Basically I agree with you that the "party" described was lame. The problem isn't that there was beer at an on-premises party even though OP doesn't drink. The problem is (definitely) tacit mandatoriness and (to a much lesser extent) that the party didn't have anything to offer other than a chance to show that you're "dedicated".

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