update: my boss gave everyone a Christmas gift but me

Two Christmases ago, in a round-up of weird office holiday stories, a reader shared a story of her boss giving each of her coworkers at a holiday lunch a $100 gift card and pointedly leaving her out. The story made it into this compilation of workplace holiday disasters. Now, we have an update!

Well… Today was her last day.

Her assistant went around earlier this week, collecting money for a gift. 50 bucks each! I refused, not only because of the incident above but because of the principle of not gifting up.

Lo and behold, the boss comes to me yesterday, demanding to know why I hadn’t ponied up for a gift to her and “who do I think I am?!?” for not putting 50 bucks into the pot (her assistant isn’t a big fan of discretion).

I am rather proud to say that I kept any and all snarky comments to myself and just smiled.

…while mentally remembering her inclusion on AAM’s “worst of” list.

{ 108 comments… read them below }

    1. Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      LOL. Yep, Karma’s a B*&#h–but I quite like her. Good for the OP.

  1. Drewby80*

    I’m interested in hearing how the rest of that confrontation between the OP and her boss panned out.

    1. Sandy*

      I hate to disappoint you, but it didn’t really go anywhere after that.

      It just… ended. I didn’t give her any fuel for her tantrum and she stormed off.

      1. Adam*

        And really, why should she care? She got a gift anyways I’m assuming? Did $50 less dollars make that big a difference? What a bully.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          It’s not about the money or the gift at all. It’s about exerting her dominance over everyone.

      2. Bend & Snap*

        That’s so funny, I’ve always found that screaming at people makes them magically want to do things for me.

      3. danr*

        The best way to handle it. Those types of folks just can’t handle it when you don’t give in.

      4. Anna No Mouse*

        I probably would have laughed at her, to be honest. Like, you’re kidding right> Good one!

        Then just turn back to my work.

    1. Mazzy*

      What does this mean? My coworkers used to say this but I never asked what it meant and now they aren’t here anymore.

  2. JustALurker*

    WTF?? Who asks someone that?!? I would also like to know how the rest of that confrontation played out.

    1. Jeanne*

      I would love to hear every word. But I’ve had a boss like that. She was two levels up, made tons more than me, and we had to contribute to a really expensive gift. Then she thanked everyone except our sub-group because she resented we were put under her. I was new to the workforce and the company so at the time I had reluctantly paid up. After the lack of thanks I learned not to contribute to big boss gifts.

    2. OriginalYup*

      Demanding to know “who do I think I am?!?”

      “Someone who doesn’t work for you anymore.”

    3. SH*

      That’s a lot of money. I wouldn’t shell that out even if I liked my boss. Kudos to the OP.

  3. Lily in NYC*

    Wow, there is no way in hell I would have been capable of not bringing up the Xmas gift if I were in that position. My mouth sometimes overrides my brain.

    1. Sandy*

      Sadly, working for this boss was a consistently horrible enough experience that this particular incident doesn’t actually make the top 5 list of incidents. Top 10, maybe.

      Maybe my “self-control” is better interpreted as being spoiled for choice and unable to pick one to bring up!

      1. misspiggy*

        Ooh, do spill the rest of the top 10! (Now that she’s gone and it can be a funny story rather than a neverending nightmare…)

        1. LJL*

          I’ll second that! I would love to hear the Top 5. I hope in time they become humorous.

        2. Sandy*

          Most of them are so egregious that they have become legendary in my workplace- meaning I’ll out myself if I give out the best ones!

          There *was* the time that she called me a slut in front of 20+ people at an external meeting- from then on, I was not “allowed” to wear nylons on workdays.

          Then at the Christmas party that was the subject of the post, we got caught in the pouring rain and I was soaked and freezing, and she lambasted me for NOT wearing nylons!

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Wait, wearing nylons is slutty? I thought we were supposed to wear them because going barelegged was too titillating for the menfolk.

            1. CM*

              That’s correct. Not wearing nylons is slutty because no one should see your legs lest they be unable to control their baser urges. And wearing nylons is slutty because they call attention to your irresistible legs. You should wear a burlap sack that touches the ground.

              1. irritable vowel*

                Well, really, if you have time to leave the house at all, you’re obviously shirking your duties as housewife and mother. -_-

              2. Alli525*

                But you still have to wear nylons underneath – you just can’t let anyone see them.

          2. AMG*

            I literally gasped out loud reading this. Did she treat other people like this or just target you??

    2. Jeanne*

      It can be fun to not speak also. My boss bragged about how with his new salary he could afford a fancy new SUV. A colleague was leaving so we went to lunch. I was sick of boss’s cheapness and said I only had enough cash for my lunch not part of coworker’s too. A couple weeks later I got an email that I still owed him $10 (should have been $4 at most) and I just ignored it. Let it hang there and let him wonder.

      1. Chickaletta*

        The people who have the most often spend it on themselves and claim they have nothing left to spend on other people. This is why trickle down economics doesn’t work in practice. I find this to be true on a micro scale over and over again.

        1. sunny-dee*

          Um, actually, that’s not what that economics theory means, exactly. In this case, if they’re spending money on themselves, *someone* is benefiting from that spending — the SUV salesman, the mall, Orbitz, whatever. The idea for supplyside was that business owners would have money and incentive to reinvest in their business (expansions, more pay, etc) — but that wouldn’t apply to middle management, which has no investment in the business.

          1. Artemesia*

            But of course the wealthy don’t spend their money and put it back into the economy at anywhere near the rate of those at the bottom. A person on social security who gets an extra 100 bucks probably spends every dime; enough of those and small businesses etc benefit. The very wealthy buy foreign travel and real estate, art that they hoard, tie it up in investments etc. There are lots of studies that show that money that goes to the very top does not get circulated in the economy anywhere near as well as money paid to middle income workers, or increases in the minimum wage or similar. It doesn’t trickle down. If we want to stimulate the economy benefits at the bottom and better wages work better than huge tax cuts for the top.

        2. Awkially Socward*

          Trickle down economics is supposed to work *because of* wealthier people spending all their money on themselves. The money they spend goes on goods and services, which then improves the goods and services industries.

          The reason why it doesn’t work that way is because – as pointed out – wealthier people are more likely to trickle across, not down, and wealthier people save their wealth or spend it trying to get more wealth for themselves.

          1. sunny-dee*

            No, spending it to get more wealth is a good thing. Like, I decide to expand my business, so I hire more people. My goal is more money for me, but one of the outcomes is also more employment. (Or I invest in capital expenditures, in which case I’m helping another business.)

            You actually hit limits on how much you can spend personally (the limits are high, but still). It’s why Bill Gates or Steve Jobs don’t have 17,000 houses — what’s the point? But business investment grows.

            (And, to note, *savings* is actually a form of investment, unless you’re putting it under a mattress, which rich people don’t do. They buy municipal bonds, which fund civic projects; they invest in other businesses through acquisition or venture capital or corporate bonds or stocks; or even just leaving it in a bank, their money is used to provide loans, which is what gives them interest. Money is working; it’s not at rest unless it’s hidden.)

            1. Awkially Socward*

              “No, spending it to get more wealth is a good thing.”

              No, not always, and that’s the point.

              Spending money to offset your tax burden momentarily improves employment for your accountancy firm, but it’s more than balanced out by the reduction in tax raised.

              Ditto spending money on investments. It might briefly help a broker stay employed, but it can result in cumulatively millions of dollar being off-shored or otherwise removed from the system.

              Modernisation and upgrading is another one. It may help some companies keep their designer and engineers employed, but you’re not going to spend that money unless it helps you out compete a competitor, or reduce your per unit overheads. That means job losses for your competitor, or ‘downsizing’ for your own company.

              Acquisition involves amalgamations, downsizing, stripping out assets, or re-forming. Only the last one typically results in job creation, and even then only with the goal of out doing the competition.

              The only reason why none of the above have decimated the US economy (and plenty of people would be happy to point to several that have impoverished them or their towns directly) is because business people mess up, make the wrong decision, over estimate, under estimate, and constantly compete with each other.

              Just because *some* of the money *eventually* trickles down, doesn’t mean it all will, nor does it mean trickle down is anywhere close to being the best model for employment creation.

      2. Menacia*

        I worked in a law firm and one of the higher up lawyers (not quite partner but close enough) would be the first one into our Lunch and Learn training classes to choose the best food for himself, but never stay to learn anything. I was glad he ate and left because he was gross on *so* many levels!

  4. Adam*

    Good bye and good riddance. The unmitigated gall of this person. The assistant gets an eyebrow raise from me too honestly. Kudos to you for taking the high road. I might have lost it.

    1. OhNo*

      I can’t help but wonder if the assistant shared the info just to get the boss off their back – with someone this aggravating, I probably would (although I’d probably feel bad about it).

      I hope the whole workplace is better with this person gone, because yikes!

      1. Michaela T*

        I’m betting the boss asked for some specific expensive thing as a going away present, and the assistant offered up to her why they wouldn’t quite be able to afford it. Instead of just, you know, pointing out that $50 is an INSANE amount of money to ask of employees for a boss’s gift.

  5. Jeanne*

    $50 a piece? No way no how. That is an appalling amount to collect for a gift. I would have said no, too. Some nerve.

    1. Abby*

      Yeah, that’s crazy. The most I’ve pitched in was $20 for a coworker’s (not my boss’) new baby.

  6. Sally Sparrow*

    $50 is a lot for a gift – let alone $50 per person. Boss is crazy for demanding that kind of money (essentially from everyone, given the reaction when refused).

  7. Joseph*

    “I am rather proud to say that I kept any and all snarky comments to myself and just smiled.”
    Very impressive OP. Though I really, really hope you at least *thought* of a few good snarky comments, even if you were smart enough to be the bigger person.

    >”Yeah, if only I’d gotten a Christmas gift two years ago like everybody else, I might be financially able to contribute.”
    >”What’s your salary? Why? Oh, I don’t like giving handouts to the wealthy.”
    >”$50? Really? Shoot, I didn’t give my (niece/child/spouse) that much for his birthday and I’m stuck with him forever!”
    >”Who do I think I am? I think I’m $50 richer than I would be if I donated.”

      1. AndersonDarling*

        “Karma Fairy” That one is going in my pocket until I can spring it on someone!

    1. Adam*

      I wish I could help, really I do, but I’m on a tight budget and $50 is all I have to spend on [insert hair-curling activity of debauchery here] this month. Sorry!

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        “I’d love to help but I need that fifty bucks to blow on nylons and a raincoat.”

    2. The Butcher of Luverne*

      Who do I think I am?

      The person who will cheer loudest when the door hits your ass as you leave.

    3. Mookie*

      These are great. My stock and admittedly feeble answer is to shake the person’s hand and introduce myself like we’re strangers. It’s like a bad dad / mom joke.

      1. The Strand*

        Nope, that’s pretty fine. I think it might actually make someone this trollish even angrier.

  8. sjw*

    Hey, I’m just happy for the link back to the original list. I’d never read those! Hilarious.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        The origin of Hanukkah balls AND the Spray Paint Barbies. Oh, my, what a fruitful post!

  9. S.I. Newhouse*

    $50 apiece?? Wait, how many people work in that office? Even if only 10 people worked in the office, that would be a $500 gift for Bosszilla.

    Seriously, $50?? I thought being asked to contribute $20 to a retirement gift was a bit much.

  10. yachtie*

    Was this posted in an Open Thread? I feel like I read this update somewhere else too.

  11. Erin*

    Wow. Slightly disappointed I didn’t get to read snarky comments you said to her, but probably better off for your job and all.

  12. Trout 'Waver*

    “I thought we had agreed that we didn’t have a gift-giving relationship?”

    1. The Butcher of Luverne*


      “I thought gifts should only flow downward. Guess you never got that memo.”

  13. animaniactoo*

    I fully admit, I would not have been able to restrain myself. At the least I’d have looked her dead in the eye and raised my eyebrow with a “really?” look. THAT woulda been my restrained reaction…

    1. V.V.*

      I would have smiled sweetly and said “Consider it a belated Christmas gift.”

      Then I would have turned my attentions elsewhere. She’s still $50 ahead.

  14. Tuxedo Cat*

    Who raised this person? You don’t go around demanding gifts or contributions to gifts. That’s not a gift.

  15. Colorado*

    OP – you are a better person than I. Good for you for being the big person. I don’t think I could have just smiled without flipping out.

  16. So Very Anonymous*

    Reality check needed: I’m on a search committee and our HR rep is insisting that it isn’t a problem that the job posting “automatically” got taken down by the main job-posting sites for our field, in some cases almost two weeks before the job’s closing date. I had checked the sites four days before the job closed and found nothing at all (one did show up with a “This job was deleted on XXX date” error message, which was 2 weeks before the closing date. HR rep says this is because I looked at them “late” and implied that I just don’t understand how job sites worked. They’re insisting that the right people had indeed “seen” the postings when they were still up.

    Because I didn’t want to draw attention to my, um, quite clear understanding of how to look up jobs, I didn’t say anything; nor did I want to point out that I often apply for jobs on or just before the closing date to make sure I’m submitted my most current c.v. (stuff gets added fairly frequently) and my most polished cover letter. But I was thinking, if I’d checked the main sites four days before the closing/consider-by date, and I found no posting for the job on ANY of them (or a “This position has been deleted” error message), I’d assume the position had been closed, or canceled, and I wouldn’t apply.

    Just me? It’s worrying me mostly because we ended up with a very small pool.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        Yup! Too much going on at the end of the week.

        (takes a minute to consider the irony of incorrectly posting a post about weird.. posting…)

  17. Fifty and Forward*

    I can’t get past the “50 bucks each” part. That is a lot of money to most people and, budgeted carefully, can put food on the table for an entire week.

    Rhetorical question alert…how is it possible for anyone not to understand this?

    1. SenatorMeathooks*

      I am just floored she would even demand any money for a present in the first place. This would get any manager fired very quickly where I work.

  18. HRish Dude*

    Wait, but this means that the person collecting the gifts told the boss she didn’t contribute.

  19. Thebe*

    Here’s a response:

    “Actually, since I didn’t receive a $100 gift card at Christmas like everyone else, YOU owe ME $50.”

  20. SenatorMeathooks*

    Karma’s a bitch, but not as big a one as that piece of work.

    Woe be to those she manages in NextJob.

  21. NDQ*

    So does OP know what kind of job she was going to? I’m sure we will read about this boss again. People don’t change much.


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