Work and Holiday Parties…I Don’t Go
I will admit that I am not a fan of holiday parties put on by work. I have always felt that the workplace holiday party is one that is organized by those people hoping to be seen by the bosses as going above and beyond. At times it has become heated and I’ve seen people push others out of the organizing until they are the only one that remains. Then they can say they did it all themselves and reap the praise they will get. Okay, fine, you need the validation that you are worth something to the organization. I would prefer that my organization saw my worth through my work.
The first year that our center was opened, the holiday party was held on-site with finger foods and a children’s choir singing holiday carols. Considering that people were not allowed to bring their significant others or children, this created a lot of hurt feelings. It also meant that there were no alcoholic beverages, which meant that most of the people exited as soon as they could and the resentment of giving up time after hours was rampant. Luckily, the party was on a Friday night and by Monday, most of the people had forgotten about it, but there are always those few people that will carry the grudge a little longer.
The next year, the party was moved off-site, which meant that those attending could drink alcohol. The people paying for the party decided to issue vouchers to each employee for two drinks. Now, for those employees that do not drink, this caused them to be singled out by those that do, and all sorts of comments ensued, which basically ended up with the non-drinkers feeling as if they were being bullied to give up their vouchers. To give some background, my first job after college was at a Level I trauma center. Within a few weeks of starting, I was called down to the Emergency Room. On my way there, I saw staff running with a stretcher to the operating room with a tiny body on the stretcher, people hanging off the sides while working on the patient, and lying next to her were the remains of her skull and brain matter. Her mom was drunk and didn’t strap her into her car seat. An image like that will stay with you forever. And it will impact your decision to drink or not in public. I choose not to drink. If I want something to drink, I wait until I am at home. That is my choice to do so. I don’t feel that I should have to explain why I don’t drink. Nor do I feel that someone who does drink needs to explain their reasons for doing so to me.
Anyway, I have lost count of the number of people who thought it was perfectly acceptable to call out those of us who don’t drink in meetings and other events to “be a team player’ and give our drink vouchers to those that could use them. Let me see, what they are saying is that the two drink per person limit isn’t enough for them and they want to drink more. So, if I were to give them my vouchers, I would essentially be aiding them in possibly getting drunk and if they chose to drive, then I could be putting the public at risk. No, that isn’t something that I want to be a part of. And honestly, how many of us really want to see our co-workers getting s@%t faced drunk and acting like a fool? I would rather not know anyone that I work with that way. It’s bad enough that we have to hear the after party stories at work the week following the party.
So this year, the bullying about attending or not attending the holiday parties started even before Thanksgiving, with the first email that went out to RSVP if you were attending. I, like many others, deleted the email. Several more emails followed as the date of the first party got closer. Delete, delete, delete. Then came the email demand a reply with a yes or no to the party. I took this to mean that they were not getting very many “yes” responses. Several of my co-workers responded in one email, all listing their names and a “no” next to each. Which opened the door to questions on why aren’t you going and being encouraged to attend the party, but “you don’t have to drink.” Ahh, and there it was. The reason they want you at the party. Unless you attend, you won’t get a drink voucher and they won’t be able to get them from you. Yep, that just makes me feel all warm and welcoming by my co-workers. Nope, it makes me feel used, which is why I stayed home.