I got invited to the office Christmas party. Or rather, I was signed up against my will. I was on the fence about it this year and my coworker told me she signed me up anyway. I could say no and not go. I have that option, but at the same time, I may go. Who knows?
I went last year and wanted to go last year out of curiosity. It was my first couple of months at that place, and my first work Christmas party period. It was a chance to see my coworkers outside of work to see what they were about as regular people and not in work mode snapping and growling at each other because we're getting our asses handed to us on a Monday morning.
I was never one to be included in anything and to actually go to a party where it didn't seem like I was some tag along or some pity invite was nice. I had a better time than I thought I would last year.
But this year..... augh. Having been there a year and witnessed the back biting, shit talking, clique forming, snide comments, immature exclusions, crappy opinions of each other, and overall fakeness of folks, I'm kind of tapped out. I knew it wasn't sweetness and light at that place when I was hired, but I was keeping to myself so much last year, that I didn't really notice.
Now that I know everybody there and have learned people's quirks and figured out what kind of workers they are, I'm just tired. I'm tired of faking it. I know everyone has to fake it at their job because you have shit to do, bills to pay, and nobody really has time to be a blunt, uncouth, abrasive asshole and tell people what they really think. You have to bite your tongue sometimes because you have to maintain a decent work environment with people in order to make that paper to pay rent and keep the lights on.
I know they fake it with me, and that's ok. But doing it at a job 5 days a week, 8 hours a day is different from having to do it at a dinner table in somebody's living room. And having to sit at said table and watch people interact with each other when I know that two of the techs would rather beat the shit out of each other in the parking lot just sounds so emotionally fucking draining.
Those two techs don't like each other (although they've gotten along better since a new tech was hired, and their dislike of her brought them together. The enemy of my enemy is my friend kind of thing). The new tech may be going to the party. NONE of the techs like her, so there will be that amount of tension and fakeness over dinner as well. I don't work with her enough for her to bother me so I haven't formed a strong opinion either way. I have heard some of the complaints about her, and many of them are warranted (like losing two vials of blood for a lab work-up, therefore the owner had to bring the dog back the next day so more blood could be drawn; filling the wrong prescription, sending home the wrong meds, etc). So I'm not sure if I can eat a plate of food and listen to people who want her gone ask her about the rest of her vet-tech schooling and her relationship with her boyfriend.
Most of my coworkers don't like the one receptionist. I'll admit she gets spastic, condescending, and snappish when we're in the shit and everything is going wrong and she wants to micromanage and treat people like they're stupid because that's how she maintains some semblance of control. But that is rare and we just grit our teeth and trudge through it when it happens. But in all honesty, she doesn't bother me that much. When it's a good day and we're kicking out the jams, she and I get along quite well. We're two misfit geeks who have whole conversations about comic book movies and independent films. No one else at that job gets my Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert references. And I get her Wayne's World references. We had a whole conversation once using Mitch Hedberg comedy bits.
But everyone else thinks she's the damn plague. Yes, she talks too much sometimes, gives everyone TMI, and over-explains things. And I admit to getting severely irritated with her sometimes. However, did anyone at that damn place ever stop to think that she's just socially awkward and doesn't really know how to actually talk to people outside of her "work mode" of interacting with customers? Just because I get quiet in over stimulating social settings doesn't make me any less awkward than her. But watching everyone plaster a smile on their faces when she's talking during dinner is going to get tiresome.
NONE of us, not one damn person (except one---I'll get to her in a moment) at that place likes the office manager. She goes to the party every year with her husband. At the job, she's nosy, self involved, and has no idea what really goes on at that place. She has worked the front desk a few times if people call out sick, and she has worked some Mondays (which is the 3rd circle of Hell every week without fail). However, that doesn't mean she truly knows what goes on there. Techs and receptionists and doctors tell her things about the job that aren't working, or have a very serious complaint about a person who severely fucked up at their job and needs a good talking to. Nothing ever seems to get fixed regarding the complaints, so everyone is furthered annoyed because the mistakes pile up. She seems to be more interested in harmonious, touchy feely bullshit than solving problems.
Everyone has their own issues with her, but mine stem from the fact that I always get the impression that she's trying to figure me out. Pin me down and put me in a box. For what, I don't know. Because I can be a bit quieter than some of my coworkers and don't say much when she's around, she treats me like some kind of robot. When I show any kind of emotion other than irritability or bluntness, there's a shock and awe that emanates from her like an android figured out the secret of feelings. I finally got my emotion chip installed. The first time I really laughed in front of her, she told every one of my coworkers and described the situation like I was a dog that figured out how to talk. I shit you not.
Something else that chaps my ass is that she talks to my friend/coworker about me instead of coming to me. What is she? My keeper? Am I that mean dog in the neighborhood that only likes one or two people? It has to be run by my friend first so she can break it to me slowly? WTF. I'm an adult who understands simplistic concepts like shifting around work schedules and times to accommodate people who take time off. I get complicated algorithms like working on a holiday if need be. Yet she insists on talking to my friend about it and asking things like, "do you think she'll be okay with that?" You want to know if I'm okay with something? Fucking. Ask. Me.
So no. I don't want to be cooped up in a house with her and her milquetoast yet at the same time douchebag of a husband struggling to make small talk.
The one person/receptionist who likes her is a friend of the family who only got the job because of the office manager. They get along great, but we'll all have to fake it because we know she's the favorite. Calling in sick at least twice a week and still has the balls to ask for Saturdays off and usually gets it. It pisses us all off, but we grin and bear it, don't we?
I'm not saying I'm above the gossip and the whispers. I partake sometimes because I'm a shitty human being. I'll cop to that. I make comments about the socially awkward receptionist. I comment on other people's work and how they do their job. With the exception of maybe 2 people, I'm not really fond of anybody there. They know this, and I know they have their thoughts and comments about me before I'm barely out of earshot. They respect me for my work (which I have been told by most, if not al of my coworkers, so at least there's that). I respect others for how they do their job, and really that's all that should be needed at a workplace.
Yet, this Christmas party comes around every year and we all act like everything is hunky dory. What the hell is it with the holidays?
I think I'm massively indifferent and drained this year because I know I'll be surrounded by couples. The one tech just got married, so having to sit through that and listen to the planned honeymoon and what they'll be doing in Europe will be tedious. I'm not trying to shit on her happiness, since she is still deliriously happy, but I'm not married and probably never will be, and since I don't believe in the actual institution of marriage, will I have to fake my interest?
Having to fake not being just the tiniest bit envious of these so called "happy couples" is going to wear me out.
I'll have to act like I'm ok. No, always flying solo at social gatherings doesn't bother me. No I'm not seeing anyone, thanks for asking. Where's my other half? Oh, there isn't one. Don't apologize. It's fine. I'm fine. Everything is fucking fine.
It's hitting me harder this year because this will be the first year I am truly, truly bothered by it. The "I don't need anybody-fuck the world" part of me has slowly been dwindling over the years. I'm sure getting older and still flying solo is what's been wearing me down, and usually my loneliness is reserved for weird parts of the year like spring. I never noticed during the holiday season because I was working so much that I had no time to think about anything else. But the holiday blues have actually come to me this year and it's kind of sucked the joy out of me.
So, between the fake smiles, false nods, counterfeit emotions, phony hugs, pretend "oh hey, girl," and bogus laughter combined with the very real alcoholic drinks, why am I considering going?
Because it's free food, human interaction, and behind all the artifice, I'd like to think we're all at least maybe having a percentage of a good time.
Damn. My pessimism is shrinking too.
Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.