Posted by: GeekHiker | June 19, 2009

Party Pooper

Today there was an office party.  Well, maybe a more appropriate term would be “bridal shower,” but because the entire staff was invited, I suppose it straddles the line between the two.

Anyway, last week I got the invite via e-mail.  The party would be held on our Friday lunch hour in the office, and everyone was asked to contribute $15 for food & a gift.

(Just as a side note: Friday is the only day of the week I usually go out to lunch; I figure if I’ve made it through an entire week without killing a user for asking me why pressing the tab key doesn’t deliver a soft drink directly to their desk (or some other equally idiotic question), I deserve a lunch out.  Thus far, I haven’t missed a lunch yet.)

Anyway, I elected not to go.

I have to admit, at first I felt kind of bad about that.  I mean, it’s a co-worker, she’s getting married and all, etc.

At the same time, I kept thinking about the fact that she’s in my age group, and hangs out with the other people in my office who are in the same age group.  They’re a group of people to whom I’ve extended the hand of friendship multiple times over the years, only to be rebuffed.

Not to say that they’ve scorned me in any direct fashion, exactly.  But I do know that I’ve extended lunch invitations before, chatted in the halls, etc., only for it to “never quite work out”.  I do know that when the e-mail for lunch plans goes around, I’m not on it.  I do know that when Happy Hour rolls around, I’m never called.

Never get cc’d on the joke e-mails either.

I suppose I’ve become less participatory in the in-house events in general.  I used to go to all their little in-house birthday celebrations and things of that nature, but not so much anymore.

I suppose, though, that this time I felt that enough was enough.  I’m not someone that they see as their friend.  Maybe it’s that I’m the IT guy, maybe I’m just too geeky and don’t fit their definition of “cool”.  Whatever the case, it just didn’t feel like it was worth ponying up $15 and blowing my lunch hour on people that I can say, with a fair amount of confidence, wouldn’t return the gesture

Does that make me sound bitter, or merely that I’m being realistic about the situation and the relationship I have with my peers at work?

I have friends who have great relationships with their co-workers.  They cross the line to Friday night drinking buddies, weekend travel buddies, hiking partners, and the like.  I won’t deny for a second that I’m sometimes jealous that my workplace hasn’t afforded the same opportunity.  That it pretty much sucks that the people I work with who are in my own wage group/social class/economic class/whatever don’t want to hang out with the IT guy.

So life goes I suppose.

So I kept my fifteen bucks.  I’ll spend it tonight, eating and drinking with friends that I don’t see five days a week, but who are much better company.  (Okay, that sounded bitter, didn’t it?  LOL)

I still think it a better way to spend my dough.

Assuming, of course, that I manage to have my Friday lunch first… 😉



  1. I vote for “realistic”.

    It’s pretty presumptuous for them to try to commandeer not only $15 of your hardearned cash but your time.

    I’m GLAD you didn’t go. (So’s Freddy!)

  2. I don’t socailaze with my co-workers either, not outside of work-and I can find lots more entertaining people to hang out with AND have more fun spending $15 than doing it all for someone who doesn’t even register on my radar. So yeah, I too am glad you didn’t go.

  3. good for you for rejecting their phony bullshit. and, seriously, a bridal shower at work. who does that?

  4. I say realistic with slight undertones of bitterness ;-). Consider this: If you walked into a bar full of random white collar 30-somethings would you expect to like all or any of them, and vice versa? It’s sorta the same thing at work – a bunch of strangers plopped into adjoining cubicles to get a job done. It’s great when you find friends in that bunch, and disheartening when you don’t. Regardless, I don’t think anyone should ever feel guilty for taking their lunch break and doing whatever the heck they want with it.

  5. Umm, part of me wants to tell you to take the high road and join in the stupid events no matter how you feel because it’s part of every job.

    However, I don’t blame you at all for skipping an office bridal shower. I generally skip out on these personal milestone events at my office. There must have been a bajillion babies born in my group of mostly women this year and I have not signed any cards, contributed money for gifts or anything. I loathe baby showers (bridal showers too) so I flat out refuse to participate and purposely make myself scarce. Also, I feel disconnected from my group because I work out of a client’s office and I’m only at the home office once a week. I get missed out on a lot of lunches and after work stuff so I figure I can’t realistically be expected to shell out cash for people that I barely know.

    I did have to go to one baby shower because I had to be at the office that day for a meeting so I baked some cookies for the pot luck lunch and made an appearance. It was painful but I figure I have now paid my dues for the year. It was a high-risk pregnancy and she and the baby are fine now so I feel better for having shown my support.

    But in general, I think that if you show up to the “official” stuff eg company summer BBQ and Christmas Party, nobody should judge you for not wanting to waste your time and money. I wouldn’t be surprised if people respect you for not being the desperate, wallflower, wanna-be-cool IT guy.

  6. i’m usually bitter about office socials, so i’m with you 100%. i hate these “let’s all pretend we love each and are best friends” type of things. we don’t love each other, and it’s awkward to have a personal celebration (bridal shower, birthday party) at work. i’m not as brave as you–i usually suck it up and pony up the money or sign the stupid card, but i resent it. so i think your way is healthier. at least you’re not being passive aggressive like me.

    oh, AND i feel like my contributions toward these stupid things never get reciprocated b/c i don’t ever have anything worth celebrating. i’m always the one contributing. whoever organized something for me that everybody else contributes to? yeah, nobody. i’m bitter about that too.

  7. Never worked in a company big enough to have any kind of “bridal shower” so I never encountered that problem. But yeah, it’s not like you had any obligations towards them. Better hanging out with friendly people than some you would avoid.

  8. For what its worth, I think you made the right choice.

  9. I’m glad you didn’t go. It as clearly a money/gift grab instead of an offer extended in friendship. Screw them. That not only comes from the fact that I think baby/bridal/engagment showers are work are tacky, tacky, tacky but because these people haven’t treated you as a friend and now can’t expect you to pony up some phony friendship.

    Work friendships are great when they happen but I think it’s a lot more rare than all the TV shows and movies would have us think. You shouldn’t feel bad that you aren’t friends with these people. You guys just don’t click. I do think it would be in poor taste for them to rub their friendships in your face. You know, inside jokes at meetings and these other stupid parties. At that point, you can accidentally on purpose delete important documents from their computers over the weekend. It’s only fair.

  10. Those sorts of events are common at my company, but I genuinely like the people I work with now so it doesn’t bother me.

    However, I remember being quite disgusted at a past job when we were all expected to buy presents for the owners of the company (who I couldn’t stand) and pretty much publicly flogged if we didn’t attend social events.

    Good for you for being true to yourself and not putting on the fake face.

  11. Ms. H – I guess the figuring is that when it’s my turn, everyone will chip in for me. Doubt it’ll ever be my turn.

    Kori – LOL, well said.

    BlakSpring – Hmmm, I’ve heard of a lot of offices that do

    Magenta – In all honesty, I’d probably have better luck at the bar than at work. Beer is a great bonding agent!

    Mrs Greg House – All we have at my work is the Christmas Party, and you know how that event is…

    Seine – I wonder if, given the events of your life of late, that might not change soon?

    Gany – My thoughts exactly

    Homer-Dog – Thanks, man!

    Dingo – Meh, I don’t care enough to be that bold…

    Mel Heth – Wouldn’t you have been disappointed if I had put on my fake face?

  12. Good for you to stand up for yourself. People like them are not worth spending your time and money on and don’t deserve your friendship.

  13. I gotta tell ya, it’s frustrating. Now, don’t forget I’m in an academic environment, so take that for what it is. But, like personal stuff like bridal showers, etc. are kept out of the lab. It’s the academic achievements (candidacy, and inevitably graduation) that are celebrated. But, there have been people that have refused to celebrate with lab members because they didn’t care for them. Me? I go and give my hellos, call it a day. I’ll contribute if I can participate. If I can’t, or had previous plans I don’t…and have no guilt about it.

  14. i’ve heard of baby showers at work, but not bridal showers. damn, i’ve been missing out.

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