Happy Birthday to who? Workplace obligations

Singing “Happy Birthday” to someone you barely know (or like). Contributing to the monthly potluck spread. Donating money to your manager’s “holiday gift from all of us.” Whether we like them or not, non-work-related obligations are part of life at the office. They can also be really hard to get out of.

I once had a manager who was a raving advocate for involuntary volunteerism. Her specialty was field trips. On weekends! At far-away places! The trick to finagling one’s way out of “Kathy’s Killer Weekend Killers,” as they were known, was simple: A) Have a baby; B) Get a second job working weekends; or C) Iocane powder.

Assuming travel isn’t required, most “obligatory” office functions can be quite enjoyable. Aren’t free cake, respites from e-mails, free cake, awkward group singing, and free cake pleasant distractions from the monotony of everyday office life?

Do you feel trapped by workplace obligations? What’s the worst thing you were compelled to participate in? Have you ever lied to get out of a volunteer function at work?

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One comment Add your comment

Mike

June 21st, 2010
10:49 am

I once got volunteered by my manager to be a caddy at a golf tournament. Just me – apparently my manager’s thought process was “he’s single and male, so he must love golf and have absolutely nothing to do with his weekends.” It would have required being in Kennesaw for a 7:30 tee time (I live in Buckhead). I politely but firmly declined.

Fortunately, at my current job, I like my co-workers and have no problem celebrating their birthdays. We also get our cakes from a really good bakery. We don’t have fundraisers or volunteer events, let alone any that we feel forced to participate in.

(And it would be “Happy Birthday to Whom.” Object of a preposition.)