Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — If I never have another slice of office birthday cake, I’d live! These constant money drives for other people’s gifts has gotten on my last nerve. Yesterday (she) asked me for money for someone’s baby shower gift in our Utah office who I never even met! This is nuts, crazy, just wrong!!! Give me some good lines. — Cham-pain Hater
Dear Cham-pain Hater,
I love cake, I love presents — for me! — so I hear ya, but figure out and clearly state your policy for all to understand about you, and stick with it.
Back in college while working at a major department store, my manager came around at Christmas time to ask for donations to an equally major charity. Coincidentally, this charity had been in the news for administrative financial abuse to fund schmancy lunches and lavish personal travel, and such. I was already consistently giving to an organization of my choice, so when she first asked then attempted to strong-arm me for my hard-earned money (mockingly, “What?! You can’t even give up a dollar?”) — her attitude alone underscored to me that she was only pimping to win a department managers’ contest. That manipulative sort of crap only served to make me stand even firmer in my convictions and state, “Nope. Especially not “even” a dollar.” I freely give to what truly stirs me, and not to earn kiss ass points with a manager competing in a peer contest for a personal gain prize, via my dollars while supposedly campaigning for a charity I didn’t even believe in.
Knowing what you stand for lets you know what you want to fund in life, and keep the change from the rest in your own wallet. In the game of office politics, only give when you expect nothing in return (never give a present to get a present, whether retail or brown-nose points), or all you’ll get is disappointment. Nothing more bitter than a low-carb flourless cake of guilt and shame.
[No, your RSS and e-Mail subscriptions are not broken. Here’s GW’s added Reply.]
Dear Cake-Champain Hater,
Truth works better than any excuse you can come up with! I would start by asking for a general pool with once yearly contribution (say $20) that is split for all employee presents, like a Christmas Club. I have heard of employees being asked to give $20 a month for other employee gifts. Maybe a $10 a month fund for cake and office morale isn’t asking too much.
My question is, as an employee, don’t you appreciate when your birthday is noticed? Isn’t that an unrecognized benefit of your work environment? It sounds like you’ve got an office that has taken the time to create a more family like environment. This makes for a comfortable place to work. Believe me, not all offices give a damn whether it’s your birthday, wedding or baby—just do the work.
It is really nice to be appreciated. Your office culture has found a way to give each other recognition of the lives lived outside the cubicle walls. Say thank you and throw in $10. If money is really tight right now, tell your co-workers that truth. They’ll appreciate it. Then throw in $2 or $3.
Family may be a pain in the ass sometimes with their little rituals, but that is the good stuff you remember and appreciate years later. Quit bitching and have some cake.
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