So I know that there always seems to be some sort of exciting event in people’s lives at work. You can count on it in any office, big or small. It affects everyone. It seems that I see the people in my office more than my own family sometimes so naturally (before the Prozac wears off), I feel inclined to share in their happy times. But it’s seriously starting to get ridiculous. I don’t know how many more lunches/cakes/gifts/gift cards/cards/flowers/showers/singing telegrams/bottles of liquor/decorations and so on that I can donate to before I have to choose between paying my electric bill and insulting Jack in accounting. And God knows if I don’t share in the joy of Jack’s 150th anniversary of being married to that horrid woman who calls the office every day and still calls me Christie (I hate that name), I’ll never hear the end of it. And if I don’t give $10-20 towards the gift, then he’ll be pissed because one time I gave Melissa a stuffed animal I won out of the claw machine when her cat died.
The thing is, I like Melissa. She is my friend and she is a super nice girl. She knew all about that rash and the kerfuffle at the free clinic and she didn’t tell a soul! She’s fantastic. But I don’t like Jack. Jack is a dick. He is rude and lazy and a liar. He eats people’s lunches out of the fridge and thinks we don’t know and if you call out sick, he tells everyone you’re either hung over or knocked up. Why should I spend my hard earned money on someone like that? We’re not friends; we’re co-workers. Then there’s always the email that goes around stating, “If you would like to give toward the office gift, see Jane. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to.” Yeah, right. More like, “You don’t have to give if you want to be known as the bitchy office cheapskate.” I’ve worked in small, medium and large offices. It doesn’t matter. Everybody knows everybody’s business. If you don’t give, they’re going to know. I’m not stingy but I could go bankrupt from buying pastel colored gift bags alone. It’s not that I want to be mean but jeez! It seems the gift giving requirements are getting more and more demanding every year.
I mean, congrats on your new baby. Babies are great. I don’t have one but I hear they’re endlessly amusing despite the smell. One of the attorneys in an office I worked at had no fewer than five, count ‘em folks, FIVE baby showers! And yet I’m still supposed to give her something!? What the hell else could that kid possibly need? It’s dressed better than me at this point. It’s insane. Who has that many baby showers and still asks underpaid staff for more gifts?
And if you don’t pony up, you get that look of, “What did poor, pregnant girl/bride/birthday girl ever do to you?” or “Why do you hate babies?” or “Oh, of course you don’t want to give the bride a gift. You’re divorced. You hate love.” No, I don’t hate love. I just hate your love. But if I try to argue the point, I just look even more pathetic and hateful. It’s better just to hand over some cash and keep my mouth shut.
I want to know when us single people are going to get showers and parties. There are always a few of us in any office who are not married and do not have kids. We’re getting stiffed here! Shouldn’t we get some sort of gift-related recognition for being able to properly use a condom and not joining our lives to the first person who asks out of fear of dying alone? I think we should. Not gonna happen but it would be awesome.
Bottom line, I am sick to death of being guilted into buying anymore gifts for anyone in the damned office. If we’re close, I will know what’s coming up in your life and be happy to gift you for it and vice versa. As for the other 98% of the office, let’s try “don’t ask/don’t tell”. Don’t ask me for gifts and then I don’t have to tell you no. That policy has to be good for something.
There are, of course, birthdays. I think it’s nice if the office wants to have maybe one cake per month for all the birthdays in that month. It would save us all a lot of time and money. As for me, I love my birthday. Yes, I’m sprinting towards middle age like a starving cheetah on crack with the Sizzler in its sights but I still love my birthday. It’s actually more of a week span of celebration but I still call it birth-day. I have my family and friends who are required to celebrate and appreciate me accordingly. I don’t expect anyone at the office to get me anything. If you notice me wearing my birthday tiara and want to say “Happy Birthday. I can’t believe you’re only 29”, that’s great. And we can go to lunch together but I can pay for myself. Unless, of course, you insist. But if you are not family or appointed friends, then don’t spend your money on me. Just cover my donation next time Jenny gets knocked up again.