We are just CO-WORKERS here, not family or friends

Okay, Ms. Self-Appointed-Office-Social-Event-Organizer, call me a Grinch if you like, but I am sick to death of your efforts to turn our workplace into some sort of pseudo social club/family/ring of friends.

Why? Why? Why do you do this??? Do you not have friends or family of your own, is that it? Is lack of any sort of a social life outside work the reason you insist creating this ersatz version???

Because this is NOT a home or social club. It is a workplace. Yes! A PLACE to do WORK!

I come here to do a job, which I do very well, thank you. I trade casual pleasantries with fellow workers at the appropriate times – the “Hi, how are you?”, the "Have a nice weekend"s, the "Wow, what lovely weather"s kind of thing. I also willingly exchange coverage with various others for lunch and break times, sick days, etc. More importantly, I do my duties quickly and efficiently, including giving other workers the reports/data/whatever they need from me on time and accurately. (I only wish everyone else in the department could say the same.)

That basically is the full extent of the interactions I want with most of my coworkers: let us behave toward each other as amicable, civilized professionals who happen to be currently working for the same company.

But that isn’t good enough for you, Ms SAOSEO, is it? You want us to be, or at least pretend to be, one big family. We must celebrate each person’s birthdays. We must throw showers: at the birth of offspring, their own or their offspring’s offspring, at weddings, their own or their offspring’s wedding. We must acknowledge with cards and gifts every graduation/First Communion/Bar Mitzvah/Eagle Scout/whatever each one of each coworker’s offspring have. There are 19 people in just the local group – I swear you show up collecting for card & present funds for some sort of occasion at least once a week!

And then there are the outside office hours affairs you keep dreaming up to steal what should be personal time away from us. Saturday picnics and baseball games. Sunday Brunches. The carefully generic “Holiday” party. The bowling night. The miniature golf night. The hayride! And Ghod knows what else you have planned.


I am hereby opting out of every single bit of your phony office=family doings. I will no longer donate, I will no longer attend, I will not so much as eat a crumb of anyone’s birthday cake. If the celebration relates to either of the two coworkers I am truly friends with I will celebrate those occasions – as I choose, but definitely OUTSIDE the office.

Instead of ‘enjoying’ all your various office parties I will continue to do the work I am paid to do during office hours, and once those are over I will leave and spend the rest of my time with my REAL family and friends. Or maybe alone. (Yeah, I like being alone some of the time.)

I know I’m going to take some heat over this decision, but I will stand fast. And guess what? I’ve heard others grumble at the cost and wasted time your events cause. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there aren’t a bunch of others who will opt out of this nonsense once they see it can be done.

Sincerely yours, The Grinch.

(Yes, I know it does no good to rant here. This is a rehearsal/venting. I will deliver a very polite but firm version of it orally the next time Ms. SAOSEO comes around with her envelope. Or maybe not wait? Maybe I should put it in writing on the bulletin board? Just so everyone knows I am not just refusing to attend THEIR daughter’s shower or whatever. Hmmm. If I leave space beneath my signature, I wonder if others will sign the declaration too?)

We had a lot of that at my work place. Forced friendliness and gatherings and Birthday parties ad nauseum. The only good thing our King of all Weasels, now fired GM did was put a stop to most of this.
However, work is a good place to make friends, decide to grab a drink or watch a game, etc. Especially lunch time activities.
It is just the pushy office Moms that always go to far and start collecting for everything that make the place unbearable at times.

We had Birthday cards, balloons, parties, Pot Lucks, Tree Decorating, every possible condolence and get well collection and oh yea, the weekly lotteries with upward creeping amounts. It was too FUCKING much!

So overall I understand and strongly agree with what you posted in your Op StarvingButStrong.


There is one of those at our workplace, too. I wrote a pit thread on her the day she put up signs asking everyone to buy her stuff for her impending baby. Since then, she’s done it for every other woman in the place who’s had a baby, nuptials, operation, left the company, you name it. I mean, it’d be fine if I knew who any of these people were, or their names, or some other thing about them beyond their names. But I don’t! The people who work on the other side of the building (and many who work on ours) are complete and total strangers to me. I don’t ask anybody for anything at work, and have never been offered anything. I’m not giving up any time or money to anybody I don’t know or count as a personal friend. Stacy’s having a baby? So are millions of other women I don’t know, and I’m not subsidizing them, either.

The one bright spot in all this is that I just heard today that Mrs. Social Agenda is thinking of quitting.

I’m with you, StarvingButStrong. I get paid at work to work, not stand around for 30 minutes at a time eating cake which celebrates the birthdays of people who’s first names I barely know. I have a real friend or two at work, and if I want to celebrate something going on in their lives, I’ll do it outside the office when I’m off the clock.

It’s called being Professional. Look into it.

Thank goodness at my office we don’t pretend to do more than barely tolerate one another!

You do need informal communication within workplaces and if everyone is so busy, meeting for special morning or afternoon teas is a great idea. However, your person either doesn’t have enough work to do, or doesn’t have enough family and friends outside of work. We decided to only have a morning tea once per month to acknowledge birthdays and have an excuse to meet up and that money for cards would not be collected anymore. Why don’t you put that to her as a suggestion?
And surely after work social activities are optional? For new people it is a great way to make friends within the workplace and find out about the new town and to help with feelings of lonliness and alienation.

They do a lot of this at my work, too. It makes me grouchy. It wouldn’t be so bad if you were only expected to buy stuff for people’s first babies, or first weddings, but right now The Princess is getting married for the second time in 5 years, and I don’t want to give her a damn thing. Her and her SO have been living together for a couple of years now, they both have decent jobs, a nice big new house, two new SUVs, and all the essentials, so they are asking for luxury items like cappucino makers. You don’t need my money, Princess- I’ll use it to feed my children!

We are not friends, people- you can keep on cranking out the babies like there’s no tomorrow, but I won’t be giving you so much as a onesie!
Not only that, but there’s a special hell regarding potlucks in my office. We have to have one every single month, and the food you bring has to be a certain color or colors, ie July is red, white, and blue food, January is pink and red food, December green and red, etc.
It’s too fucking much!

Next time they ask for donations, pull a Costanza:

“A donation has been made in your name to the Human Fund. The Human Fund - Money for People.”

Fortunately the “events coordinator” at my office is long gone. This sounds like something she’d try to enforce. (shudders)

Get well, get well soon we want you to get welllllllllll

The obligatory Seinfeld reference out of the way, I gotta say, jeez, aren’t you unpleasant. I assume said cruise director isn’t holding a gun to anyone’s head? Do you get performance reviews after every Saturday putt putt outing? If not, simply don’t participate. I’ve always found that the best work climate is one where there’s at least a hint of comraderee. It may not be your bag, and that’s fine, but why disparage someone who’s trying to add something positive?If these extracurricular events have somehow become compulsory at your office, then I see what you mean and I withdraw my judgement, but otherwise, why not just remove yourself from it?
Speaking as someone who works in an environment where there is no social interaction, in or out of work, it’s a big fuckin’ drag. I think it’s a shame to have to spend what amounts to more time than one spends with one’s family and friends and not have some kind of feeling of cohesion.

We had a lot of this, but the success of our actual work has shrunk my site so that there are only four full-timers in my office, a part-timer, and one guy out at a field trailer. Once upon a time, there was a secretary or three who organized all of that sort of thing, and three thriving offices. I got to slack; as the only woman in the field, I got away with acting like one of the more oblivious guys. Oh, sure, I signed cards and brought stuff to potlucks, but thankfully, there was rarely money involved and it was mostly during business hours. Nowadays, we mostly ignore birthdays, because there’s no one left who really cares. It’s peaceful.

But one guy’s wife seems to be dying, so as the last woman on site, I’ve sucked it up to be the thoughtful one for once. I bought flowers, signed the card from all of us, and will not ask for a dime from the others.

Sure, it’s okay to get together once in a while for an outside-of-work activity, or do a potluck or baby shower, but when you have 25 or more coworkers, the majority of whom are the marrying and baby-making age, it does get to be too much. When you’re pulling money out of every single paycheck to fund these things, it’s too much. When you can’t bring something easy to make or that you have in your cupboard because oh look it’s August and it needs to be something green, it’s too much!

Yes, you can just not participate, but that can be uncomfortable too. Most people don’t like to feel alienated from their coworkers or thought of as stingy, so they go along because it’s expected.

The office had some people that made weekly what I consider crap for meals. I never saw anything I would have eaten and left them to their own devices. After a few months they told me they were colleting so much every week for their meals. I said i won’t be contributing. The lady says that I can’t eat the meals then. I asked her how many of their meals she thought I’d eaten in the past few months. Her answer “None.” I told her she was apsolutly right, and I promised not to ever eat any of the crap they brought. I called it crap to her face. I don’t want any of your cabage diet soup, or other crap you make.

I’m there widdit.

I am not shy, but I do not make friends quickly. I’ve been accused of being British in my tendency to draw a series of gradiations between "stranger… casual acquaintance… acquaintance… acquaintance I have come to know somewhat…

…at the far end of the spectrum which ends in “friend.”

The fact is, I am probably NOT your friend. If you have to ask, don’t. This does not make me a grouch, or a bad person. It could be that I think very highly of you, but just don’t feel like I know you very well, is all.

…so don’t get bent out of shape when I don’t rearrange my weekend on short notice to attend your coming-out party, okay? Just because we work in the same office doesn’t make you my blood brother!

This wouldn’t be tough for me. There’s almost always something green towards the back of the refrigerator.

The semi-weekly money donation thing does sound excessive. It will do no good I’m sure, but a frank talk with Ms. Social Event Coordinator would be wise before taking any definitive action (such as the notice on the bulletin board that says I Will No Longer Donate To Your Endless Life Event Celebrations).

So Starving, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind donating to the Straight Dope ™ pot for the third annual contribution of Harry the head hamster’s birthday. You mean a lot to him and your absence would be sorely missed by Mrs. Harry, Henrietta. Would $50 be too little, you think?

We actually do lots of socialising within my work unit but there is nothing forced about it - we all just get along really well. We go out for lunch for birthdays, once in a while we go out for dinner. People who used to work in our unit but left still turn up, other family members sometimes come. The younger 3 or 4 sometimes do stuff together. My boss and I go to a few football games each season. The director admits that she spends more time than she needs to around our unit because the atmosphere makes her happy. We are noisy and boisterous and sometimes work is the most entertaining part of the week but we are generally regarded as just about the best performing unit in the organisation. Best work environment I have ever experienced.

That is truly wonderful and I have been in groups like that, but this is not what the Op is talking about. He was talking about the collection for Edna in Shipping, you know Edna, she’s having a kid. Yeah, she’s kind of short, medium length blond hair and very nice. Oh, you never met Edna? Then the same overly aggressive organizer gets you the next day for Good old Gus who is leaving the company after 7 years. You know Gus, works night shift in Widgits. etc.
There are many companies where it gets out of hand.


Yeesh, that sounds…swell. I’d ask where you work but there’s something about your screen name that tells me it might not be a good idea…

dammit, my post was supposed to follow don’t ask’s. I guess that’s what I get for not quoting (or at least previewing)