We just had a going away “party” for one of the girls here and the birthday complainer had to be spoken to by one of the partners and convinced to come to the boardrom and then she quite pointedly refused to have any cake.  In all of my professional life I have never encountered such juvenile behaviour – and I worked with lawyers for over 10 years!!

In general I don’t give a lot of stock to birthdays – whoopee!  You were born x amount of years ago on this day, good for you!!  (shouldn’t the mother, the one who had to go through all the pain and stuff get the kudos?  But I digress).  When asked, I have repeatedly said that I have no wish to celebrate in any way, shape or form.  Period.  And I am not saying that to be modest, ’cause really, that’s not how I roll. If I want something, chances are I am going to ask for it. And now the politics of birthdays in the work place have reared their ugly heads!!! Before I got here the admin staff was JW so birthdays were phased out (they don’t believe in them or some such crap).  It was my lovely assistant’s birthday in November, and being that she is MY assistant, I thought it would be a nice idea to have a little birthday party AT MY OWN EXPENSE.  I bought cake, ice cream, balloons, it was fun. So come January I asked what the “official” deal was for birthdays and was told about the JW’s and about how some people would get their knickers in a knot because their birthday got missed, or that one person got cake and balloons and one person got flowers, etc. etc., etc.  The end result being that office birthday celebrations had fallen by the wayside.  As office manager I decided that we should re-start the office birthdays so I asked my assistant to make a list of everyone’s birthdays and then instituted a policy that for office birthdays there would be a cake of the birthday person’s choice.

Simple, right?  Apparently not.

So it’s my birthday yesterday and one of our comptroller’s today.  Of her own volition my assistant went out and bought us each a card and circulated them for signing (I knew nothing of this).  Also, and again of her own volition, she went out on Monday and bought us each a bouquet of flowers. Lovely.  Or not.

My boss, my assistant and I  had a 30 minute meeting yesterday morning because of fall-out from the flowers and cards – the other comptroller, actually wrote in the card that wasn’t mine:  “how come I didn’t get a card on my birthday??”  Can you believe that??!!  Also, apparently she complained to my boss on Tuesday evening about the flowers, too.  For the complainer’s birthday, my assistant and I spent the better part of 2 days trying to find EXACTLY the right cake that she had requested – a Chinese cake with chestnut filling.  Hard to find and BLOODY expensive.  But we found it and had it delivered and it was grand.

So now we are cancelling the cards, cancelling the cake(s) – I actually asked that no cake be done for me as per my not wishing to celebrate, etc., but we had already ordered one for the other birthday girl that now has to be cancelled.

Does this not all seem completely insane??

After I had calmed down, not from being mad about spoiling MY birthday, but just the sheer frustration that this was happening at all and I had to deal with it, I went and had a little chat with the complainer.  I calmly explained the sequence of events and she got all defensive and said how there is favouritism and that some people got missed and I again very calmly stated that the cycle started in January so everyone with a birthday in 2007 would get there “special day”.  I also made the point that it was just plain rude to do what she did and inappropriate and that how embarrassing it would be to receive that when the situation has absolutely nothing to do with her.  She then retorted with “well what did I get for my birthday” at which point I almost lost it but remained calm and informed her that what she got for her birthday was 3 bloody days of my time tracking down just the right cake.  That shut her up.  Just for added fun I pointed out that my assistant, who was just trying to do a nice thing for people, was feeling like she had done something wrong.  Oh, and the piece de resistance?  When I told her that I had cancelled the cakes for these birthdays and that from now on NO ONE was getting a cake, they would just get flowers (I was at first tempted to just shut the whole thing down), she replied “so no one is going to get cake because of me?”.  You got it, babe.

She was embarassed and quite contrite.

Have I mentioned that the complainer is 43 years old?

So basically I had to be the Birthday Grinch on my own freaking birthday.  Ain’t being “management” grand??