Yet again my hackles have been raised at the sight of a mewling infant being held aloft in the reception area of the office where I work. I should have guessed that the baby Jesus had arrived for a visit when my female colleagues disappeared en masse without saying anything to me. Most have figured out my antipathy towards under 18’s and don’t mention the b-word in my earshot.
If only it was just the babies that I was meant to appreciate. When exactly did it become essential that your colleagues celebrated each and every significant moment in your life? I fully understand that I am destined to spend a huge proportion of my life in the workplace. I can do the maths and I know I’d be doing myself no favours if I adopted the stance that my colleagues were a necessary evil (even on days when they quite clearly are). I endeavour to be polite and friendly to each and every one; even the fat cunt on my floor who talks to everyone like they are retarded and admires himself in his magic mirror that he believes makes him massively attractive to every female on the planet.
I’ve worked for massive corporations, small companies, medium-sized businesses and each one has its differences. What they all have in common though is that they have employed a person at some time or another who was responsible for starting the ‘traditions’ which are now unstoppable.
How about buying cakes on your own birthday to feed the folk you despise? It’s always the ones you hate that rush up to grab the spoils just as soon as you email the company that you are one year older and £30 fucking quid poorer for it. Then there is the collection. Chipping in a fiver and scrawling your name on cards celebrating ‘big’ birthdays/weddings/imminent sprog dropping. Every time you have to ask all about this person’s significant event because you care so little about them that you have never learnt the name of their fiancée or noticed that the protrusion at the front wasn’t just too much pie but a gestating foetus.
I am not, I may add, a heartless bitch. I spend time choosing appropriate cards for my friends and family, sourcing presents that I know they will love and am more than happy to put my hand in my pocket for my nearest and dearest to celebrate their cherished moments. I don’t, however, care one iota if Dave in accounts is being dragged up the aisle this weekend as I only ever call him when he’s fucked up my expense claim again. I have made friends in the workplace (believe it or not!) and when they share their news with me on a personal level I happily join them for a drink and chip in for a gift. That’s because the sentiment is real, heartfelt and borne out of friendship, not duty, obligation and emotional blackmail.
The person toting the cards round the office, rattling the envelope of money and gathering everyone round a desk to gurn at whichever person is doing something noteworthy is the bane of my life. They are frankly no better than the chuggers who accost you outside mainline stations, thinking they will get you when you are weak and your defences are down. The main protagonists cotton on quickly to my disdain for such rituals and they are invariably the same moronic folk who drag people up to dance at office parties and expect you to sponsor them to walk 50m round their local park. And yet they still insist on trying to convert me. They ask why I told no-one about my impending wedding, why I haven’t sent out a round robin for my latest charitable venture and why I am busy once again on the day of the Christmas party.
Get this people: I have a life outside the office that is rich and enjoyable. If I need new friends I know where to find you; though God help me if I get that desperate that I ask to befriend someone in (shudder) the human remains department. I would however be most grateful if you accepted the following.
1. Bring your newborn into the office just once. Yep, that’s right, parade around in a communal area, let everyone who is is marginally interested coo and cluck then never, I repeat never let your Klingon darken the office door again. If someone wants to enjoy your child’s company on further occasions they can go out of their way in their own time to do so and not disturb me as they are handed round a bunch of menopausal women gathered near my desk. Also, where’s the bloody health and safety bitch when you need her!
2. Ban all celebrations of a personal nature being acknowledged via a collection or circulation of cards. As no-one seems capable of drawing the line I can only propose a stop and desist policy. Such cards only line the pockets of Clintons and purveyors of useless gifty tat and are usually filled with platitudes which the receiver will never recall. In fact, the recipient is far more likely to focus on barbed comments and remember those so let’s spare anyone the upset (though I will miss the pleasure I derive from making up my sentiment-free words!)
3. Forget the quirky traditions and stop the feeders. These people who ‘advise’ us that everyone brings sweets back from holiday or that I have to buy a box of overpriced, sickly doughnuts for every fucker in my company on my birthday are greedy, self-centred, cake-stuffing dictators. When I go on holiday I do it to forget work and will not waste my time queuing for fudge which mysteriously disappears after a few hours in the office kitchen. Well I say mysteriously, as I can usually spot someone looking queasy with sugar coated fingers making their way back to the IT department having claimed they came up to fix the printer….
4. I am a foundling. My husband is agoraphobic. I turn into a pumpkin if I stay out after 6pm. I do not need persuaded to join in. I am an adult and if I wanted to, I would. I don’t wish to know about your dull private life so don’t go sticking your nose into mine. Next time you cajole me into coming for drinks my response is ready. ‘Sorry, not tonight as I have a prior engagement. It’s my weightwatchers meeting. Fancy joining me? After all, you’ve been helping yourself to just a tad too much birthday cake of late, haven’t you?’