December 15, 2011
Is there anything worse than an office birthday party?
First of all, it is in the office. Offices are not conducive to fun. Unless your office is in clown college, that is. So while they might try to put up a few streamers and maybe, if someone is ambitious, three or four balloons the fact that it is still the office is belied by the OSHA signs, file cabinets, and filthy industrial rug.
And then, the people. You work with these people all day. Some of them you can’t stand. Some you don’t even know. These are not your friends, these are people you might never choose to see if it was up to you. But you work with them and you are stuck with them so at best, you put on a smile and bear with them through gritted teeth.
Finally, the cake. If there is ever a sign of the office pecking order, it is who gets cake and who doesn’t.
And that brings me to my story.
The Company I Am not going to mention divided certain agents- er, workers, into teams. Each team has 9 people and they are in a pod with their associated office accoutrements. Just a few feet away is another pod, etc etc etc.
Let’s take 3 pods, A B and C. I am in pod B.
I am very friendly with the people in pod C. While they are not in my line, we all fraternize and mingle on the floor. They get along very well with each other. Too well, really, because while they are very productive, much of their time is spent organizing birthday parties and pot luck dinners. Last week a lot of time was spent putting glitter on Santa hats. Sheesh. For the record, I am not involved in their parties and have not gotten a slice of cake. Not a problem.
Over in pod A are people I am not quite as friendly with but I do get along very well with their supervisor and my closest friend on the floor is on that team. They were throwing a birthday party for their supervisor and bought a cake but had no plates or forks or napkins so they stuck the cake in the fridge until someone could bring in the stuff the next day. (For the record, my complex has one of the great office cafeterias/buffets/private restaurants around so they could have gotten plates and forks from there.)
The next day came and guess what? No one brought in paper goods. But the cake had already sat overnight in a smelly office fridge so it was eat it or trash it time. My friend from the other team, knowing that I have pretty much everything from hex keys to plates and forks in my desk asked me if her team could have some plates and forks. I said sure. For a price.
I wanted a piece of cake.
She thought I was nuts. And on some level she might have been right because I actually did not want a piece of cake and would have refused if offered. This confused her. So why did I want the cake?
I wanted the consideration. If I were going to help them out I wanted to be asked if I wanted a slice. Petty? Yes. But I call it a sociological experiment to make myself feel better.
So back upstairs they were looking at the cake and wondering if they should just rip it apart with bare hands monkey-style when my friend said that I had plates and forks and napkins, let’s ask him.
And they did not.
Rather than let an outsider into their little office birthday party they decided to slice the cake with a particularly sharp pen and use clean manila folders for plates.
I don’t understand.
Also not understood is why my friend was glared at when she got a single plate, fork, and napkin from me for herself and ate her cake like a normal human being.
I don’t get office birthday parties.
Know what’s worse? The office Christmas party. Wait and see.