Fun at the Office

Every so often our office manager (read PA (read secretary)), with great care, discreetly presents me with a yellow file with a birthday card inside, accompanied by a grave, almost accusatory look. It translates exactly (as opposed to loosely) to: “Inscribe the card. Pass it on to the next guy. Don’t fuck this up”. To him, this is serious stuff. I think it’s a major focus in his annual review.

The weird thing is the cloak-and-dagger action surrounding it. Everybody knows they’re going to get a birthday card. It happens to everybody every year. A week before your birthday you notice every now and again someone avoids eye contact or suddenly turns way from you and scurries off. Potentially traumatic to the yet unsettled new people, insane to sane people. To be honest I still feel ostracized during my week of stealth activities. But I have abandonment issues.

And sure enough, like clockwork, on the morning of your birthday, what do you know, what’s that on your desk, how did this happen, I didn’t notice anyone passing anything around me!?: the card. Even more weird is that EVERYBODY nevertheless plays along. You make damn sure you’re not that guy that lets the mark, god forbid, prematurely physically see the actual card.

I’m toying with the idea of “accidentally” putting the ridiculous thing on the birthday boy’s desk grunting something to the effect that he must sign and pass along, and when confronted by the office manager, coldly imparting:

“I guess you think, ya know, you're an authority figure. With that stupid fucking uniform. Huh, buddy? ... King Clip-on Tie here. Big fucking man.... You know, these are the limits of your life, man. Ruler of your little fucking [office] here. You pathetic piece of shit."

If I’m toying with that idea, I’m seriously considering plotting a mysterious disappearance of the card every week, week after week. Heck, this has the potential to keep me amused for at least a year. Of course, if some Dick Tracy picks up that I’m the only person for a whole year to get a card, the game might very well be up.

Even more annoying is thinking of something to write on it. What do you write for somebody you hardly know, and who you get the distinct feeling that even if you did know them, you wouldn’t particularly like them? When you're me, there’s a fine line between being sincere and sounding like an asocial asshole. For the moment I’ve settled on a stock message that goes “Hi XXX. Have a great day!. B”. I’m considering leaving out the “Hi xxxx”. It sadly only occurred to me after about 6 months that I need not discriminate. There’s no way they can make me. Labour laws these days are watertight.

This way I don’t even have to bother to look at the name. Whoever you are, you just better call me when the cake’s in the kitchen. Otherwise you just go on doing whatever it is that you do.

The “B” is also in danger of being a casualty of the knife of my apathy. Come to think of it, I could actually just tick my name on the list and no one is likely to ever be the wiser.

In any case, as long as the mark doesn’t actually see me write in it, The Office will be in perfect, lubricated harmony. A well oiled machine as it were.


Adriaan said...

I like
a world i'll never know
:-) ><==>

R said...

You ought to spend more time working on the birthday card nicities and less time on the (supposed) observational witticisms. Then you'd have less to worry about at work! Good luck with that... or do I mean 'Hi B, have a great day! R.'?

Anonymous said...

Is this office nazi the same guy who, when the fire alarm rings, puts on his little hard hat and starts herding people out of the office as if it were 1943, and he was herding Jews into the ovens? I know the type - after work they go home and pull wings off flies for fun, before kissing mummy good night after she has tucked them into bed.

As regards what to put on the never-ending procession of cards, have you thought of shelling out a few rand for a self-inking stamp with a smiley face wearing a party hat?


Anonymous said...

*accusatory look*
*adjusts tie*

See if I write a nice message in your card next time, you ungrateful cunt.


b said...

Hi Paul. Actually yes I have. Well some form of a stamp anyway. But somehow I think completely avoiding the cards will be less conspicuous.

But this is more the office drama queen. The office nazi is the IT guy. He's German. Don't even think about customizing your desktop. Customization is for closers only.

GN said...

ha! wonder who b is. you know that there is one same person who actually goes to buy the card (in JHB) and she puts a lot of care and thought into the bday person's character before she buys the card. Ironic that it's the T-Lady who actually buys the card? Someone most people hardly talk to.

b said...

Old gn. Always looking out for the little guy. GN is the kind of person that explodes when someone breaks the most subtle of work ethic codes, but can't stand snobs and is always on some crusade for those perceived to be lower on the social hierarchy. So she's an ethical snob and social philantropist. And I love her for it.

So, GN, does the tea lady do a good job? I mean are people happy with their cards?

disclaimer: there are no actual Nazis (German or otherwise) where I work.