Bah, Humbug: The ‘Joys’ Of My Office Christmas Parties

So like clockwork, the emails began to tumble in regarding the office’s Christmas party. There is something kind of strange about working at a hospital during holidays. While generally everyone has a team mentality, “we’re all here to play our roles,” around the holidays you’re swiftly reminded of exactly where you stand.

Remember that rumor you put to rest about a certain nurse stepping out on her Applebee’s bill with kids in tow while her boss was sitting at the table? Trust me she remembers. Her discrete thank you shows up in the form of a Starbucks gift card. A gift card she just happened to have hanging around and reminded her how much you like coffee. Or how about that polite-though-abrasive email that effectively communicated “keep my got-damn name out ya mouth” in perfectly fluent corporate-speak? That turns into you being volunteered to have a new person ‘shadow’ you in the office for three days. (It was worth every word.)

Regardless of what karma may be coming down the pipeline because people are extra frazzled from being forced to deal with their families, it’s all about trading details about the Christmas parties. Who got the invite to the good ones or who was snubbed? And of course who made a memory they won’t want to be reminded of after?

This year I received an invite that none of the rest of the non-clinical staff and only the senior clinical staff got: an invite to Dr. G’s , the chief resident, holiday party. Legend has it it’s just now gotten back to its pre-recession glory. My work wife ranted and raved proudly about how she’d be breaking in a new pair of Spanx. Suddenly, part of me bought into the hype finding an outfit and recruiting one of my pretty friends as a date.

His home appeared like something ordered out of Town & Country magazine. Inside I was greeted by plenty of beautiful faces, a magician and cherry wood shined with gloss and glitter.  In the midst of my rum and Coke sips, I tipped over and politely made introductions with Dr. G.  There I watched this 50-something queen eye fuck my friend within an inch of his life. Suddenly it hit me.

This was a sobering reminder, a preview of what the ‘other half’ had. Actually, looking around at the crowd the pre-game hype finally made sense. This was “IT” for them. A yearly reminder of what it would’ve been nice to have accomplished if they’d lived their lives differently. What it’d be like if they had not gotten married so early or not had that second child.

In that moment the temporary spell wore off. The lights dimmed. I could see the Botox in Dr. G’s face and now the home looked like a museum. After goodbyes, we tipped off to a regular spot where we met up with other friends and had a night that has taken my liver a few days to forget.  This experience was the last thing I thought I’d be in for when I clicked send on that RSVP. Happy Festivus from the land of the working stiffs.

Have you ever attended an office Christmas party? Do you look forward to the festive event?

Joel is a native of Queens,NY raised in Atlanta,GA and currently residing in Oakland,CA. As a new writer and music buff his distinct background informs his unique perspective. This background includes a great deal of experience in the healthcare industry as a medical interpreter/translator and advocate for lower income families. His interests focus on further promoting gay men from all areas of the African diaspora.