Coworker, it is none of your business!

Let me refresh your memory of our first conversation, on my first day at my new job:

Supervisor: “Coworker, this is lorinada, she will be the Medicaid CBA and hospice biller.”
Coworker: “When’s your birthday?”
lorinada: Nice to meet you, too, I guess, but you didn’t say that. Pasting on smile to hide surprise at such rudeness. “It’s in a few months.”
Coworker: “But, when?”
lorinada, fake laughing to try and diffuse indignation: “That’s classified, at least for anyone but my friends!” In other words, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! And thanks for the welcoming words, and offering to show me where the supplies are, and such! We are coworkers, not best buddies or Brownie scouts on our first day in our new troop! I just met you, for gosh sakes, and it wasn’t even in a social setting!

And our second conversation, about an hour later than the first:

Coworker, with pen and paper pad in hand: “Now, when did you say your birthday was?”
lorinada: “Well, I didn’t.”
Coworker: “But we like to know when each other’s birthdays are so we can do a little cake and party.”
lorinada, wishing the female employed of America would understand the difference between a friend and a coworker, a social situation and a business situation, a party and a day at work: “I really don’t feel comfortable giving out personal information, and I really don’t get into those birthday things, either, so my feelings won’t be hurt if my name is not on that list and there is no birthday cake for me.” Did you not hear me the first time? I don’t get into that silly, shallow “birthday” crap, and haven’t since over 20 years ago, when, on my very first “real” job, I looked around and saw that of the 10 people singing “happy birthday” to me, five of them I didn’t know their names and two were on active campaigns to get me fired. It doens’t mean anything unless it’s sincere and it can’t be sincere when it’s coming from people who don’t even know you…

And our third conversation, about three weeks after that:

Coworker: “There’s some birthday cake in the cubie across from the copier. It’s Shaquaka’s (or whatever, I don’t always hear real well) birthday. Would you like a piece?”
lorindada: “No, thank you.” She really doesn’t get it, does she.
Coworker: “Are you sure?”
lorinada: Well, now, don’t rush this, lorinada. You need to think long and hard before making such a snap decision about an issue so earthshaking. If you thought this through long and hard, you may come to realize that you really are very fond of birthday cake and you may regret to your dying day refusing a piece. So, are you sure? Are you REALLY SURE? “Yes, I’m sure.”
Coworker: “Are you diabetic?”
lorinda, finding difficulty hiding look of shock on face: Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I am, but that is none of your business and I can’t believe you just had the balls to ask a near stranger a question about their medical history! Besides, I don’t want the fucking birthday cake becausse I’m sure your vapid little ass got it at a grocery store which means it’s going to taste like plastic! Furthermore, you irritating little fuck, I’m not in the habit of celebrating personal milestones of people I BARELY KNOW! NOW FUCK OFF! “I don’t want any cake, thank you.” Icy stare.

But you really showed your class today, when we were in that meeting where I had the supreme misfortune of sitting next to you, and you spotted my MedicAlert tag. Did you really do that? Did you really grab my tag, twist it around, and try to pull it up to your face so you could read it, WITH MY ARM STILL IN IT? Hey, NUMNUTZ! IT IS NOT A CONVERSATION PIECE! Unless I am unconscious, and you are emergency medical personnel, LEAVE YOUR FUCKING MITTS OFF MY TAG!!! You got it? My medical history is none of your business! And even if it was, what’s the deal with grabbing pieces of my personal property WHILE IT IS ATTACHED TO ME and trying to ogle it two inches from your face? Have you not heard the terms, oh, I don’t know, maybe KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF??? STAY OUTTA MY PERSONAL SPACE??? Anything like that?


You are absolutely correct that your medical history is none of this harridan’s business, and her behavior is obnoxious as well as horrifyingly unprofessional. I hate enforced social events in the workplace. HAAAAAAAATE them!

However, I also wanted to add that I will never understand the phenomenon whereby normal, sane people feel compelled to force food on others. I’ve found that telling people I’m diabetic (which is true) is often the only way to get them to SHUT UP about the damn cake, brownies, cookies, or whatever the hell else is available in the break room/dining room/for dessert/etc.

“We have brownies!” “No, thank you.” “Oh come on, just one?” “No, thank you.” “Are you on a diet? They’re really not that fattening!” “No, thank you.” “Come on, one won’t kill you!”

Deep sigh

“I’m diabetic.”


Yeah, I understand exactly what you’re talking about. I bet what’ll happen next is when your birthday comes around you’ll have a special surprise, a sugar-free cake! They did this for me one year and it was absolutely disgusting. It was fun watching everyone eat it, making these repulsed facial expressions, and then telling each other how “yummy” it was so as not to offend me.

That said, it’s probably best that your coworkers are aware that you’re diabetic. I personally kept it a secret from my coworkers for several months, but when I went in for a drug test they reported what I had assumed would be confidential information from a lengthy medical questionnaire back to my employer. I’m just glad I don’t have roids, or everyone in my office would know that as well!

And if you killed him, they’d probably expect you to contribute to the funeral collection.:rolleyes:

Seriously; I work in a very large office and there is a constant stream of retirement, promotion, birthday, wedding, baby shower ad nauseum parties, most of them for people I don’t even know. Years ago I decided to opt out of all non-mandatory office functions, which not only saved me from deciding whether I knew someone well enough to participate but also saved me a small fortune in “contributions” to said parties. I agree with you on the principle of separation of business and social lives. I have little in common with most of these people, and wouldn’t spend my non-work time with some of them at gunpoint, so why should I be expected to celebrate their little milestones?
It took a while for the fact that I always said “not interested” when someone interrupted my work to ask if I remembered that A’s party was tomorrow, and was I sure I didn’t want to take part in the festivities, to sink in, but eventually they got the message.

What annoys me the most now is the fact that I still have to spend an average of an hour every week deleting e-mail messages about parties, since everyone seems to feel it is their duty to forward messages that were already addressed to “all employees”. Sometimes I get five or six copies of the same damn announcement, followed by three “reminders” the day before the “big event.”:mad:

My own rant about wasted office time will follow shortly.:smiley:

Maybe you should be saying those things out loud instead of in italics.

Oh, and now that she knows you’re diabetic, do you suppose she’s going to keep that information to herself? Ha! Probably everyone in the whole goddamn building heard the news within 15 minutes of her discovery. And since they all know you’re going to be passing out all the time, based on the information they obtained in the documentary Steel Magnolias, they will make a special effort to “observe” you. Watching your eating patterns, checking in on your office if they haven’t heard from you in a while. Aren’t you lucky!

Come on, Lorinada, I’m dying to know what you said or did after she grabbed your arm.

Was it scathing ? was it witty ? was it informative ? did it teach her something ? did it put her firmly back into her place ?

Or were you just too floored at her invasion of privacy and rudeness to respond appropriately ?

How did it end ???

Lorinada , I hear ya! Right now we’re being put through a corporate waste of time known as “engagement”, where we’re all supposed to come up with a Mission Statement and a Vision Statement and (the most offensive of all) a freaking “Strategy for Fun”, so we can all cherish our coworkers.:stuck_out_tongue: It is such a horrendous waste of time, and they’re throwing buckets of money at this pointless exercise. I cringe when the cheerleaders come around with the latest luncheons and celebrations. It’s a job, for crissakes. I’m being paid to work, not have fun. I’ll have fun with the money you freaking pay me to work, thank you very much, and with people I choose for friends, not people that are paid to be in the same place with me every day.
God, this crap annoys me :mad:

I’ve opted out of the holiday “Pot Luck” luncheons the last 2 years. I refuse to kick in on wedding and baby gifts for people who are no more than a name to me. My social life is all but coworker-free - there are a couple of folks that I do like, but the rest are fellow drones for 40 hours a week.

No, I’m really not an old grouch. Let me do my job and go home. There is life beyond the cubicle partitions…

So, when is your birthday? :slight_smile:

But, seriously, folks, I couldn’t agree more. During my short time as a corporate drone, my department had a “no birthday party” rule. I much appreciated it.


And stop standing in my cubicle looking over my shoulder watching me write email!! for HOURS!! When I turn my back on you and continue typing, that’s a SIGN THAT I’M TRYING TO WORK AND DON’T HAVE THE TIME TO LISTEN TO YOU YAP RIGHT NOW!

Co Workers can be trying. And I really like all of mine, but they do sometimes make work less than fun. And I’ve spent the last twenty years trying to FORGET my birthday- whyncha give me a nice paper cut and rub some lemon juice in it for me huh?

As for the invasion of personal space, I’m with you all the way- I’ve often wished I could put on a transparent suit or some such device which was electrified, so people touching me uninvited would be quick fried to a crackly crunch. Or maybe that’s just me.


“Get well, get well soon, I hope you to get well!”

Seinfeld moment. A good episode about this very thing, where Elaine is sick to death of all the parties her office holds.

Heh. Be careful if you do tell them you’re diabetic. To avoid the entire hassle, and to make sure her coworkers know what to do if she has a reaction, my wife’s first response is always “no thanks, I’m diabetic.”

The response?

“Oh, that’s ok, it doesn’t have much sugar.”

And then, to top it all off, they’ll forget on her birthday, and still get her a sugar-laden, 2-inch thick icing-ed cake.


The whole “birthday at work” thing is really ridiculous, and while being sociable can enhance the work climate, doing so through cake-and-card birthdays does tend to alienate those who are better off without participating, because of diabetes or religious/conviction objections. (Those who are vegan, keep kosher or halal couldn’t eat the cake, and Jehovah’s Witnesses eschew birthday celebrations.)

The company my sister works for has decided that instead of having little celebrations from time to time, they take a half-hour twice each week for an “afternoon tea” on the company. There’s a platter of cookies and various teas and sodas provided by the company from the “discretionary fund” and the employees enjoy the break. If someone iscelebrating a birthday, an eminent birth, a promotion or other laudible event, they announce it at the tea, and substitute cupcakes for the cookies, served buffet style so if someone doesn’t wish to partake, nothing is foisted upon them. Even if it were only once a month, it would eliminate all of the dumb “come have cake!” nonsense.

I know what I would’ve done. Either suddenly yelled out, “What the fuck are you doing?” or let my hand “accidentally” pop her in the mouth.

Jeebus, not only was the first thing out of this assmonkey’s mouth “when’s your birthday”, but they grabbed your arm to read your MedicAlert bracelet? What a nutwrinkle! Ask them about the condition of their colon sometime.

My mother, also a diabetic, has a MedicAlert bracelet so packed with info everything’s abbreviated to a few letters. People ask politely about it sometimes (as they ask politely about mine sometimes) but I couldn’t imagine ever just grabbing for it! (though, I’ve had my arm grabbed and twisted by people who want to see if my tattoo goes all the way around. It does. :rolleyes: )

Of course, my mother’s boss is almost terminally unable to understand what my mother can and cannot eat. Every peppy little function is thrown with greasy, salty food, and several times there wasn’t so much as a can of diet Coke. Finally the woman just gave up and asked my mother to bring something – so she brought a sugar free cake from a local shop that actually tasted good. She had a lot of fun watching people take a teeeeeny slice so as not to offend her, realize it didn’t taste like shoe polish, and go back for more.

tlw: That “afternoon tea” is a great idea!

Dirty secret: I enjoy office parties. My homemade contributions go over well, and I take advantage of the chance to suck up by helping to clear up, which most people don’t want to do.

Insult: I was once on a set, in the production department (I think I’ve told this before). The lead actress was having a birthday. Her b-day was the same as mine. It was also on a day when we wouldn’t even be filming. Nevertheless, the UPM made me go out and get the cake. Yes, I did do it; what the hell else could I do? No, I didn’t expect the dog-and-pony show she got, and yes, there was at least one other person who could have been assigned the task.

Invasion of space: When I was 15, I was into the manicure thing. I had beautifully shaped long nails painted bright pink. I was at my niece’s house, sitting with my hand propped on my chin, when suddenly, her grandmother grabbed my hand and pulled it out from under my chin. “I wanted to see if they were real.”

Medical nosiness: Last year, I had a temp job that lasted a few months. When I started, I told the supervisor, “I have seizure disorder. It’s unlikely that I will have a seizure, and if I do, it’s not an emergency, but just so y’all know…” She made sure the word got around, discreetly, but one woman misheard “epilepsy” (strictly speaking, not what I have, but a seizure is a seizure) as “diabetes”. We had a lot of parties at that office, and many was the time I heard, “But you can’t have cake; you’re diabetic!” But the real problem was, had I had a seizure, she probably would have lunged across the room to try to give me orange juice. Which could have resulted either in my choking on it, or her losing a finger in my mouth, or both. Never get near anyone’s mouth when they’re having a seizure. They’re not going to “swallow their tongue”; I don’t care what you heard.

A society whose members can’t even get together on common ground to celebrate someone’s birthday is a society in its death throes. Jesus Christ, it’s only a little cake, and if you can’t eat cake, that’s no reason not to show up. Just say you can’t have, or don’t like, cake.

Hyper, that’s not the issue. Some people genuinely believe their co-worker’s lives are open for their perusal. NOTHING is sacred to them. They don’t take “none of your business” as an answer, and they don’t understand what the information means when you finally (and reluctantly) tell them. I’ve worked with people on strict diets for diabetes or what-have-you who did not like to attend these because they were put on the spot when cake time came around. It is a VERY uncomfortable spot to be in, especially when co-worker insists that the person have “only a bite”. It’s worse when the food is homemade, and the person who made it will have their feelings hurt if you don’t eat it. Being pregnant, I understand this all too well.


Well, there’s at least one faith group in this country which refuses to celebrate birthday observances. See if you can convince a JW to get a job there. That ought to rattle the busybody’s life!