share your funniest office holiday stories

 Did your manager provide you with a three-page document of “party procedures”? Did a drunk Santa stumble into your party off the street? 

{ 1,017 comments… read them below }

  1. Ebarr*

    There was the time our place booked us into a restaurant that flat out could not cope with the single group of about a hundred. My table got its main course THREE HOURS after the first table got theirs.

    I was sat beside the Chair of the Institute, she’d had to leave by the time the meal finally turned up and I ate hers as well as my own. I my defence, I was really hungry.

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      Oh my god that’s awful! I get really hangry and three hours to wait for my food? No way. I would’ve left

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Something I learned about my now spouse on our first road trip, when she says, “I’m hungry.” I have about half an hour to get food into her. As a friend who was with us when I discovered this said, “It’s like she was a completely different person; a real glasshole.”

        1. Anhaga*

          Pretty sure you’re not my spouse, but that was a lesson he learned pretty quickly too. And our children now know. “Mommy, you seem crabby, do you need a snack?”

            1. UKDancer*

              Me too. I went on holiday with a friend and we discovered that she didn’t feel the need to eat during the day but I turn into a ragebeast if I don’t eat something for lunch. I don’t need a massive banquet but I need something between breakfast and dinner. So we now stop for lunch every day. She has a very large coffee and a cigarette and I have a sandwich. This has led to significantly better holidays.

              1. quill*

                Ah, the siren song of “It’s 2PM, if I don’t eat something IMMEDIATELY I will either die or start crying.”

              2. Maglev to Crazytown*

                I totally misread “sandwich” as “sandfish.” And was puzzled yet intrigued by your lunch choices.

              3. Late For the Party*

                Nearly 40 years ago I had a complete breakdown on the National Mall in Washington DC because my husband would not stop and eat lunch because he wasn’t hungry. Every time I mentioned stopping to eat (which included our then two year old) he said let’s just keep on moving. He finally bought us hot dogs from the food vendor on the mall. I hate hot dogs but I would have eaten almost anything at that point.

                1. allathian*

                  Ugh, that’s gross. I turn into a hangry monster, and my husband has learned that if we’re traveling, we’ll go by my hunger schedule, not his. I’m not a nice person when I’m hangry. He’d certainly get a foul-mouthed earful if nothing else. If my husband had treated me as poorly as yours treated you, I might’ve started seriously considering divorce, toddler or no toddler. At the very least, I would have refused to travel with him again. Honestly, he sounds like a selfish SOB from here, I really hope he has lots of other redeeming qualities, and that he learned his lesson…

                2. VegetarianRaccoon*

                  ex-husband, or did he get better? That’s a pretty basic thing for him to screw up that badly if you don’t mind me saying.

            2. Filosofickle*

              I need a word that’s more like “huncry”. I don’t get irritable or angry, I get fuzzy-headed and frustrated, and want to cry.

          1. Caroline Bowman*

            The hangry thing for me started when I was pregnant with my first child. My spouse would get home from work and find me, furious (about literally nothing), like an angry, crouching, enormously fat tiger, ready to scream at him. One day he gently told me that he’d put a snack bar in my bag and please could I eat it on the way home from work (I had a fairly long commute at that time) because he finds it hard to get home and be berated before he’s had a chance to take off his jacket or go to the bathroom?

            Since then, the hangry beast is real and I take steps to avoid!

            1. allathian*

              Interesting. When we were kids, I was pretty even-keeled, but my sister often got hangry. We react to stress differently, when she’s stressed, she can go without eating for days, but when I’m stressed, I tend to overeat. She just doesn’t seem to get hungry if she has more interesting things to do, and literally has to schedule meals to make sure she eats reasonably regularly, whereas I don’t skip meals unless I’m sick. When we were kids, I’d just get an apple or something if I felt hungry between meals. Sometimes my sister would have one as well, but rarely on her own initiative.

              It’s only when I got pregnant with my son that I noticed that I really needed feeding at regular intervals or I’d get hangry. Unfortunately this didn’t go away when my son was born…

        2. Maya*

          The same thing happened the first time I stayed overnight at my grandparents’ house. They tend to eat dinner very late, around eight or nine. When my grandma called my mom to ask why I had turned into a screaming brat, the first thing she said was, “When’s the last time you fed her?”

          My family and I learned the hard way that I can be the very embodiment of the word “hangry.”

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            That is my youngest. Mini Orchestra is now old enough to tell us they are hungry – unfortunately it’s still not a ton of lead time. When they say “I’m hungry” you have five minutes to get food in them before they become the hangry beast.

        3. Richard Hershberger*

          My best friend and I dated for a while. It was a disaster. We were a terrible couple for many, many reasons. We turned out to be great friends, however. Many years later she was Best Person at my wedding. My contribution to her marital felicity was advising, early on in their relationship, the man who would become her husband of the warning signs for when he had to get food into her fast.

        4. Distracted Librarian*

          My son and I are both like this. If our blood sugar gets low, we turn into werewolves. My husband/son’s dad is used to it and understands that, “I need to eat,” is not a suggestion.

        5. Rachel in NYC*

          That’s me!

          All my friends know that when I say “I’m hungry”- that’s code for “feed Rachel now” or you get to B* Rachel, she’s both not nice and not interested in food anymore.

          It’s not pretty.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Ding ding ding.
            Mini Orchestra and I both have what the R has labeled “hypoglycemic tendencies” meaning the labs say we aren’t hypoglycemic- but we have every single symptom of it. For us, we just slightly alter meals so that there is more protein than the average meal – we burn it slower.

            1. Cat shepherd in training*

              So useful to hear someone say that! Had my oldest tested and she was negative but I had to live with her and she needs frequent!! snacks between full meals. Her SO understands the importance of feeding her often and carries snacks with him. He might be a keeper.

            2. The Magpie*

              I must have something along these lines. It’s not even so much that I get “hangry”, though I can get really irritable; it’s more the problem that I will start to feel very sick and faint if I’m hungry and don’t eat. If I wait too long, I get *really* nauseated, overheated, and flushed after eating, because I’ve waited too long. I often end up in a public bathroom somewhere, and it’s ruined more than one day out.

              It’s incredibly uncomfortable and it’s absolutely led to me sitting on the floor of public toilets sobbing before. When I tell my husband “I *need* to eat”, he completely gets it and helps me find some kind of GI-approved food. We both often carry snack bars for this reason, as well.

        6. GreenDoor*

          I get hangry within a half-hour or so of feeling hungry too. Turns out I’m diabetic. Not that this is the case with everyone. But when I tell my family I need to eat NOW they listen. If I was invited to an event and had to wait three hours for the food (!!) you bet you’d see me tossing back my emergency trail mix or munching on my purse cheese. No shame.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I have purse jerky, you have purse cheese, my mom has purse (dried) fruit, now we just need purse bread and we’ve got a charcuterie board!

            (My mom and I are like Orchestra and MiniOrchestra above- not legally hypoglycemic, but with all the symptoms and coping mechanisms.)

            1. Bibliothecarial*

              I have purse bread! Homemade bagels, crackers, focaccia, etc. and boy howdy do those come in handy because I am a hobbit.

              1. allathian*

                Yup. I’m a tall hobbit, but I’m a hobbit. My blood sugar’s always been fine, although I’m fat and fairly sedentary, so a prime candidate for pre-diabetes at the very least. More than once, a doctor’s had a visibly hard time believing my blood work results, especially glucose. But still, it’s something to keep an eye on. I do want something to eat at frequent intervals, if I go for more than 4 hours between meals, the results aren’t pretty.

            2. IndustriousLabRat*

              Today I have Purse Taralli and Purse Dried Mango. The Purse Cheese (today, a chunk of Manchego) got devoured before 8am.

              I would enjoy a Purse Charceuterie picnic with this bunch of well prepared AAM snackers! Or as someone once put it, “Lunchables for Grown-Ups”!

          2. Reluctant Manager*

            Not a holiday, but in my twenties I got tipsy at a work-related party. It was late, and a couple of other people from the party wound up waiting for the same subway as me. I realized I hadn’t eaten my breakfast, so I pulled out my snack-sized ziplock of Cheerios. Not wanting to be rude, I took a few and then offered some to another girl from the office.

            This still doesn’t seem that weird to me, but a friend of mine still laughs at trying to share my Cheerios on the L train platform.

          3. L'étrangere*

            I’m not diabetic but my father is, and I’m pretty sure it’s related. One reason my sister is such a good travel companion is that she understands the imperative of eating NOW. I do owe a lot to the roomate who told someone in front of me that I wasn’t a problem at all, if I got snarly you just had to toss some food my way and poof! purry kittycat. It helped me first make sure I had something to feed my own self when needed, and eventually to learn enough to feed myself better in general, so that I’m still not diabetic. Or hardly ever hangry.

        7. library-adjacent*

          I have some issues with blood sugar and insulin, and people close to me know when I start getting really quiet and inattentive that I have to be fed asap before the meltdown starts. It’s better controlled now than it used to be, but it was the kind of thing where if I was in a new relationship or friendship I would need to make a point of saying that if I start getting weirdly quiet and terse it’s not that I’m angry, it’s that I need a snack. I had a job (at a non-profit, surprise!) where we ran a lot of workshops/events and none of my coworkers seemed all that pressed about making sure we had meal breaks– it was definitely a contributing factor in my starting a job search within 6 months of being hired. I definitely would have bailed on this kind of thing.

        8. Catherine*

          I had to explain this to my spouse. I would say I’m hungry and he would right by places with food and I was baffled. He apparently interpreted I’m hungry as I could eat sometime later. I set him straight and told him if he was driving and I said I was hungry he had an hour max to feed me.

        9. Lady Danbury*

          Hangry definitely runs in my family, including the next generation. My 2yo nephew will start melting down like clockwork at 6:30pm if he hasn’t had dinner or a snack.

      2. Jack Russell Terrier*

        Oh yes – I’m so glad that now they’re agreeing being hangry is physiological. There comes a point when snacks won’t do and like Free Meerkat’s spouse, when I say ‘I need to eat’ there’s about half an hour before I cannot be accountable for what comes out of my mouth.

        1. The Magpie*

          Ohh, I’m so glad to hear someone else mention “snacks won’t do”. My husband understands “I need to eat” as being “no, I literally NEED to eat, or I’m going to start feeling really sick very soon”, but I’m still working to get him to understand that that *also* usually means some kind of “real food”. He’ll still try to be like, “Oh, want my candy bar?” or “Would you like to stop for ice cream?”, and I have to try to hide my impatience and reiterate that I need an actual meal of some kind – preferably with protein – not a sugar rush.

    2. Siege*

      Something like this happened to us in 2029, but it was a group of 11, we had a reservation, and they still couldn’t work efficiently. My boss and I ordered the same drink (a Thai iced tea) and they came out so widely apart in time I’m certain they just went through the list of drinks and made them in that order rather than checking to see if there were any duplicates. Same for the entrees. We were getting food and drinks for close to an hour from when the first thing was set down, and the dumb part was that we had multiple of the same entree and we could see the kitchen – this wasn’t “heat it up in the microwave” cooking. The food was good, but it was a ludicrous service process. At least we had the secret Santa to distract us.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Letter from Future Siege. The good news is that in eight years we will be able to meet in restaurants.

      1. Jay*

        My group of eight went to a local restaurant for a holiday lunch years ago. We had a reservation. They were not crowded. They kept us waiting 10-15 minutes before we sat down and they didn’t give us menus. After another ten minutes (I’m not exaggerating) my boss caught a server’s attention and asked about menus. She said they didn’t have enough and were waiting for other tables to finish with them.

        This was a well-established local restaurant with a good reputation and prices to match.

        We were finally served over an hour after we were seated.

        1. Liz*

          Similar to a dept. holiday lunch a few years back. We went to this one restaurant my director seems to favor. I don’t know why; its not bad, but its pricy and certainly not worth the price. But whatever. It was maybe a week before Christmas, and it was packed! its also the kind of place where they have “tag team” servers. one comes to say I’m Moe, I’ll be helping Joe and Zoe today. so you have like 3 people throughout.

          first we were crammed into a too small table for the five or six of us, the place is packed, and our first server came over to introduce herself and say who she’d be assisting. welp. she was it. poor woman, along with all the other servers, was run ragged. we even saw the managers bringing stuff out. everything was slow; and it was just meh on top of all that! my feeling was they were overbooked and understaffed, and couldn’t handle it.

      2. SomebodyElse*

        I had a similar experience. I think there were 10-15 of us. We know this is how they were making the drinks because we watched the bartender. I hope it wasn’t her regular job, because it was get glass, fill with ice, pour liquor, walk to table, serve, go back to bar, get glass, fill with ice, rinse and repeat. (regardless of duplicate drink orders) I think it took in the 1 1/2 hour range for everyone to get their drink.

        We know this because the same group went out the next night to a different restaurant and my boss challenged us (in a lighthearted way) to see how many drinks we could all have in the same time. Let’s just say it had been a long week and we averaged about a 3 to 1 ratio from the night before!

      3. Late For the Party*

        Memorial Day weekend about 20 years ago, we decided to take a short road trip. We visited a local restaurant in the town we landed in. They were not too busy. We were seated and we waited and waited. It took about 30 minutes for someone to take our orders. We waited another 30 minutes (which was a lifetime to my teenage son) so I got up and walked back to the kitchen prep area where all of the makings of a salad were clearly visible and started making the salads we ordered. I was almost finished and the manager walked through and asked me what I was doing. I said that he looked understaffed so I was helping him out. He sent me back to the table and promptly brought out the salads I had prepared. Our entrees soon followed. Everyone in the restaurant applauded even though they had been seated before us and had spent time visiting our table to find out how we managed to get food. The manager offered us a free dessert on our next visit, which we declined.

    3. ceiswyn*

      That happened to me about ten years ago, and to make it even better there were only about fifty of us and we were the only people there.
      Also, the food was terrible. The vegetarian option was some kind of risotto; I have no recollection of what kind, because it tasted like wallpaper paste. After I’d nicked a lot of the cheap horseradish sauce laid on for the meat-eaters’ beef, it at least tasted like slightly horseradishy wallpaper paste.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      I remember being at a wedding where by the time my table got called to go up to the buffet, there were people who’d been finished eating for about an hour.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        The number two priority when I picked my wedding reception venue was food and food service. I knew people were coming from a ways away – and I wanted to make sure I have them as good a meal as I could afford to.

        (Priority one was that my guests would be able to bring their whole families- I paid for babysitting at the reception, as soon they finished eating they could turn their kids over. It was a huge hit.)

        1. Ook*

          My sister did that (paid childcare) at her reception; there was a room of the main reception area with a mini cinema set up, and childcarers- it was a great idea and ppl loved it.

      2. Phony Genius*

        I was at a wedding where an entire table walked out because of what they felt was bad service. I was at the next table. They were being extremely difficult with the server, who I think was actually happy to see them go.

    5. Grace Poole*

      Similarly, at our last holiday party pre-pandemic, the university switched caterers and there was a disconnect between what the party planners thought was happening and what the caterers did. So instead of the buffet of appetizers and small bites being replenished throughout the 4 hour party, what was put out at the beginning was it. So the people who showed up an hour in got the dregs. Luckily (?) the open bar was still open the entire time, even though people were hangry.

    6. Kippy*

      Something similar happened at my very first office holiday party. We were a large firm – about 200 – so the party was always in the banquet room of a hotel. The party started at noon and there was always a cocktail hour before the seated portion. But, for some reason, the passed appetizers were almost non existent that year. I had heard all these stories of bacon wrapped shrimp, crab cakes, and little meat pies from years past but just got a sad spinach and artichoke popper during the cocktail portion. I looked for more but couldn’t find any. I had only had a light breakfast and was starting to get hungry but figured it’d be fine once the main meal started.

      Except it didn’t start. Our firm always did a little year end slide show at these parties and the hotel’s IT folks were having some problem getting the projector and computer to work. Our IT folks tried to help but were told that only the hotel’s staff could work on the hotel’s equipment. So instead of sitting down to lunch around 1:00 we didn’t get seated until after two.

      Salad and bread were served. At my table there was only two small/medium sized loaves of bread for the eight of us but we figured it wasn’t a huge deal since the main course should be coming out soon. We all finished our salads and they cleared our salad and bread plates as we ordered our main courses. Main courses were ordered from the waiter but the side dishes – potatoes and roasted veggies – were served communally. Our table was the first to order and about 10 minutes later the platters of sides came out. We expected to get our mains (with the plates!) soon after. But no. After this all the waiters disappeared for over an hour. Fortunately there were bottles of wine on the tables and one bartender from the earlier cocktail hour was still in the hall so drinks were flowing. And technically we had food – those sides! – but none of us had plates. Only some of us had forks since some had been cleared with the salad plates. One bold associate kept joking about grabbing some paper towels from the bathroom and we could just dump the food onto a towel and eat that way. Except this was a nice hotel and they didn’t have paper towels in the bathrooms and instead had rolled up washcloths. No one was quite brave enough to just start digging into the large – clearly meant to be shared – platters of vegetables.

      Eventually the waiters reappeared and started serving the main course. They’d serve two tables and then there would be a 10 to 20 minute delay before two or three more tables were served. Despite being the first table to order we were the last table to get any food. It was almost 5:00 before I got my lunch. My steak was perfect but the vegetables, which had been sitting out for over two hours at that point, were cold. I didn’t care and started to eat. I’d taken maybe two bites when the waiters came to take our dessert order. I figured this was because the other tables that had been served first had already finished with the dinner and they wanted to get the desserts rolling to them. Which was true. But they also wanted us out of the room because they had another group coming in for 6:00 and they needed to clean the room for them. Anyone who was still eating (and there were about 40 folks still working on the main courses at that point) got their dessert brought out already boxed up. As soon as it looked like you had finished with your main course, they grabbed your plate to clear the table. One notoriously slow eater had her plate cleared while she was still bringing the last forkful of food to her mouth!

      Needless to say we went to a different hotel next year.

      1. I take tea*

        I get so frustratated just reading about it! I would have ordered a pizza (probably not, but would have thought about it at least!)

      2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        OMG. I’d have said, “Well, you didn’t have any problem keeping us waiting. What’s the rush?”

      3. KoiFeeder*

        If someone was taking my plate while I was still eating, they would need to hope that the hanger had worn off because I have menaced (and on one memorable occasion stabbed) my siblings with a fork for that exact crime. You do not touch my food. Especially if I haven’t eaten for several hours!

    7. allathian*

      I once went with my husband to a restaurant that made most of its money from buffet lunches, but they also served sit-down meals in the evenings. This was when we were living together but not yet married. We were fairly early, so it was still quite empty, but the restaurant was open, and waitstaff were setting up tables, etc. We had to wait for 5 minutes before getting a table, in an almost empty restaurant. The waitstaff walked around and straightened tablecloths, etc. but it took ages before they brought us any menus. When we did, it took another age before they took our order. But the cherry on the cake was when they let our food sit for about 15 minutes before bringing it to us. It wasn’t as if they’d been busy, either. When we finally got the food, it was cold. We ate quickly, paid, and left. Clearly the waitstaff preferred working lunch, when customers select their own food, to providing any kind of service. We never went to that restaurant again, and we were quite vocal about how bad the service there had been to all our friends (neither my husband nor I post on social media), and a year or so later it went bust. The same owners opened another restaurant, but this time they served buffet lunches only.

  2. COBOL Dinosaur*

    We were in the middle of the holiday white elephant gift exchange one year when a pregnant coworker’s water broke. A few coworkers sprung into action and left her sitting in the office chair she was in and wheeled her down to the elevator and into their car and off to the hospital. We ended up taking a collection to have that coworkers car detailed afterwards. I believe the office chair was thrown out. Funny thing is that the coworker who drove her to the hospital actually ended up getting ‘in trouble’ because there was some sort of policy that did not allow an employee to transport anyone except ourselves to a hospital.

    1. Elenna*

      …I really hope that was a “technically we have to write you up because procedures and liability and all that, but in reality we all know you did A Good” kind of ‘in trouble’, not, like, actually in trouble.

      1. COBOL Dinosaur*

        She really didn’t get in trouble. The company just used this as an opportunity to remind people of the policy.

        1. Cathie from Canada*

          Reminds me about the Gimli Glider, 40 years ago. A Boeing 767 flying across Canada ran out of fuel and one of the pilots remembered a military runway in the little town of Gimli, Manitoba, and they were able to glide the jet to a landing thereby saving a hundred passengers. Then the pilots were demoted by Air Canada – because they had taken off without enough fuel due to maintenance worker errors mixing up gallons and liters.
          Canada was absolutely furious at the company for this management stupidity.

          1. Harper the Other One*

            Those pilots were mind-bogglingly lucky/good too. I remember watching a special about the investigation and the expert pilot they brought in said he uses the Gimli Glider scenario for emergency simulator training. None of them have successfully landed the plane, and he admitted he’s tried it multiple times and hasn’t succeeded either.

    2. Lance*

      Wait, then what are people supposed to do if they need to get to a hospital quickly but aren’t in a state to drive (as was the case with this co-worker)?

        1. A Library Person*

          Especially if this is in the US, where ambulances can rack up major fees. I’d hope that would be covered under most insurance policies for, you know, BIRTH, but I’ve learned never to take any medical expense reimbursement for granted.

            1. Anon and on an on*

              I slipped in the lobby on a rainy day. I was already in a cast. My crutches went everywhere. Ambulance called. Company paid all bills.
              I had a medical episode years later. Fainted. Ambulance called. That one was on me.
              Also true for coworker who had heart palpitations. It was on her.

            2. Me*

              Yeah that’s really not how that works. The responsibility is typically in the patient UNLESS the company is responsible for the injury such as a trip and fall over ragged carpet or slip on a wet floor.

              1. WFH is all I Want*

                Yup. It’s why they ask for your SSN in the ambulance. Then it’s on you to try and get a company to pay. The cost is astronomical too. My last ambulance ride was $1600 AFTER insurance. On the itemized bill, they charged $150 per mile driven to our location and then to the hospital. And the oxygen they put my son on for ten minutes was billed at $5000 before insurance “stepped in.”

              2. Charlotte Lucas*

                If you injure yourself at work the company is liable unless it can be proven that you were doing something wrong. I slipped on some stairs (while holding the handrail), & my injury was covered.

                The stairs were just… Kind of crappy in terms of the height & size of the risers but not in any way a code violation.

              3. Unicorn Parade*

                I collapsed at work one day because I had a kidney infection. My first one, one minute my side hurt a little, the next I was writhing on the floor in agony and briefly passed out. I remember yelling as they loaded me into the ambulance, trying to find out if they had called to get pre-auth for the ambulance. Ended up with a $500 bill (20 years ago) that I never paid and technically still owe (I was a broke college student at the time). My work absolutely did not have to pay it and several HR employees made that very clear to me.

          1. bratschegirl*

            I fell and broke an arm this year. I’m a professional musician so while this wouldn’t be true for most people, it was a potentially career-ending injury for me (I’m all healed and back to work, thankfully) and I didn’t feel safe even trying to get myself off the floor lest I make something irretrievably worse, let alone try to get into a car and get seat belted. My share of the ambulance bill was $2500 (nobody claimed it wasn’t medically necessary, I just had an unsatisfied deductible). Literally insult to injury!

          2. Kyrielle*

            As I have had cause to learn this year (everyone is fine now!), ambulance rides from both local services are out of network for my insurance. They’ll pay their customary allowed fees, and the ambulance company having not agreed to limit to those then charges us the difference. Not fun.

        2. TootsNYC*

          At my job, someone bonked their head on the stairways to the Highline Park* and opened up a cut. It needed stitches. HR heard about it and was insisting that they had to go to the hospital by ambulance.

          The employee became hysterical. She was a freelancer and had no health insurance, and she also lived in NYC on a freelancer’s earnings so couldn’t pay for it. HR, keps bearing down. All the rest of us were SO angry. I don’t remember how it ended, but I know that she didn’t go in an ambulance.

          *you can’t bonk your head on those stairs anymore, because I sent them an email and told them aboout this (it was about 4 days after the park had opened and they’d taken off the wooden cages around the steps), and on my walk home I saw there were pylons on the sidewalk to block the area, and then a couple of days later they’d welded bars to make it impossible to walk under those steps.

        1. Artemesia*

          And it will cost the co-worker who doesn’t need an ambulance as much as a thousand bucks for that ‘policy’. She would be better off calling a cab and sitting on something. Labor is rarely an ’emergency’.

          1. Snow Globe*

            No, but a coworker who is in a hurry because this is not a normal thing for them could easily get into a car accident

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        That’s okay. I’m laughing cuz I worked someplace where they decided I needed to go to the hospital and not by myself so the HR admin was handed taxi vouchers and told to take me.

        There was no blood involved obviously.

    3. Artemesia*

      I never understand this rush to the hospital thing; labor is almost always very long and doctors don’t suggest you head to the hospital to late in the process.

      1. a heather*

        But you never know. My friend’s first baby took forever; she waited and ate dinner and stuff before heading to the hospital, but she was still waiting until late afternoon the next day. Her second was almost born before her husband came in from parking the car right after they got there.

          1. Zephy*

            There was a semi-viral video clip a while back of a lady giving birth while walking through the parking lot at a birthing center – the nurse who rushed outside to help after her water broke can be heard in the clip explaining to the cop who was apparently also outside that “we’re fine, she’s here to have a baby, we just didn’t make it inside!” It’s wild, the lady just stops walking, nurse runs out, and suddenly bloop there’s a baby in the nurse’s arms.

            1. TK*

              In 2015, a woman in Utah started giving birth while driving herself to the hospital. The baby literally started coming before she even had time to pull over. The audio recording of her 911 call is pretty intense. “I’m driving, I’m having a baby, I’m trying to change lanes!” and then the 911 dispatcher is like, “Did you get pulled over?” repeatedly. (She eventually did, gave birth, and then the police arrived to help get her to the hospital and everything was fine.)

          2. TiffIf*

            My younger sister was born in the Labor room of the hospital (80s separate labor and delivery rooms, not sure if they do that anymore?) because she was born too quickly to get to the delivery room.

          3. Enough*

            My sister’s first was text book time. Her second was barely time to take off her clothes and put on a gown.

            1. Berkeleyfarm*

              My younger sibling arrived speedily enough that my mom’s doctor said “if you have another one, don’t doubt your signs, and stand your ground to be admitted. They can call me.” (small town)

              (Mom had been pooh-poohed when she first arrived and turned right back when they got home.)

        1. michelenyc*

          These stories always make me think of Seth Meyers wife giving birth to their 2nd son in their building lobby. They thought they had time to get to the hospital but surprise, surprise!

          1. TK*

            And that was after their 1st son was nearly born in an Uber after they just barely made it into the hospital. He just announced on his show last week that they’d had their 3rd child a few weeks ago, and she decided to give birth at home this time, to avoid something similar happening yet again!

          2. Marillenbaum*

            One of my sister’s in-laws ended up giving birth on her bedroom rug for the same reason–she woke up her husband to go to the hospital, he was in the middle of calling his parents to have them take charge of Oldest Child so they could go to the hospital, when suddenly she was like “This is NOT FINE” and she rang emergency services, who arrived in a couple of minutes and helped her safely deliver on the bedside carpet. She said she was so glad to move house about a year later because it meant her neighbors hadn’t heard her in labor.

        2. zebra*

          At one job there was a married couple (“Joe” and “Jane”) who both worked there and Jane was very pregnant. I was at the reception desk at the end of an afternoon and one of my other colleagues poked her head out from the hallway to the bathrooms and said “hey zebra, can you call Joe and have him come over here to the bathroom? Jane’s water broke and it’s time to go to the hospital.” I was like 22 and immediately started panicking, thinking she was going to have to deliver the baby in the work bathroom, asking if I should go grab the coworker who used to be an EMT, etc. The woman looked at me like I was crazy and was like “Uh, calm down, this isn’t a movie. They have plenty of time. Just please tell Joe and go back to work.” I felt very chagrined when they left for the hospital quickly but calmly a few minutes later. (I can’t remember many details but everything went fine with the baby and they got to the hospital.)

        3. Retired Prof*

          I was in Day 2 of labor when some woman came through the ER doors crowning and took my doc, my nurse and my anesthetist.

        4. KoiFeeder*

          I wasn’t quite as dramatic as some of these stories, but I showed up before the doctor did! Supposedly he came charging in with the hospital hats over his feet because he couldn’t find the shoe covers in time.

          1. PhyllisB*

            When I had my third, when we left the house, I was having contractions every 10-15 minutes. My husband said being the third, things might go quicker. He was right. We drove one block to my mother’s to bring her the other two, and as soon as we left the driveway they started coming two minutes apart.
            Got to the hospital and they called the doctor (he had been playing tennis) and he took a phone call at the nurse’s station because he figured there was enough time. Well, things started HAPPENING and nurse yelled out “DOCTOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” He calmy said, “Gotta go!!” Got quickly suited up and got there just in time to catch her.

        5. Tamarack with a phone*

          Yeah… My brother’s kid – mom’s first, 26 y.o. healthy young woman… Water broke, so my brother drives it to the hospital, parks in a hurry in the drop-off zone and gets her into the maternity ward. Once she’s in the hand of the midwife & nurses, they tell him to go and park the car, and not to hurry. By the time he was back 20 min later, the baby was all done getting born.

        6. Harper the Other One*

          My first labour I assumed we’d have AGES of time. My water broke as I woke my husband up, and I took a quick shower to clean up because it’ll be 10 to 12 hours, right?

          By the time I got in the car I was having contractions every minute and a half and the hospital was 40 minutes away. Total time in labour was 2 hours and they didn’t even bother to call my doctor because they knew she wouldn’t make it in time! Another OB who had just done a delivery kindly stayed to assist me.

          For my second child people joked we should rent and RV and live in the hospital parking lot.

      2. MsClaw*

        Typically if your water breaks, you need to get to the hospital right away. For many women, their water doesn’t break until they are well into labor. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the medical staff to have to break the waters for women. Or you could be like me and have your water break but not be going into labor — which is okay for a while but becomes dangerous for the baby if you let that situation go on.

        TLDR; generally speaking you don’t need to ‘rush’ to the hospital at your first contraction. But if your water breaks? It’s hospital time.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I don’t think it’s accurate to say this is “typical.” It’s always portrayed that way in movies/TV, but really, water breaking is rarely an emergency situation. Yes, you do need to go to the hospital, but it’s a “put a towel on the seat and drive” situation, not a “call an ambulance” situation.

          1. MsClaw*

            I think you are misinterpreting my comment.

            You are right that it’s pretty atypical to have a ‘massive water breaks in the grocery store’ moment. And yeah, you don’t need an ambulance. But you do need to generally get moving to where you intend to give birth (hospital, birth center, home) if you are one of that small percentage of women (like me) who do have a sitcom water break moment.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Ah, thanks for pointing out my error.

              (I’d be furious if someone called an ambulance – which I would have to pay for – because my water broke!)

            2. Forty Years In the Hole*

              Putting me in mind of the scene in “The Coneheads” movie, when Prymatt’s (Jane Curtain) water broke…took out an entire apt’s staircase.

            3. KaciHall*

              Funny related story – I worked at a bank inside a Walmart. We had a pregnant customer come up on Christmas eve looking slightly stressed and asked if she could cash a friend’s check. (We couldn’t.) She walked away, but came back a few minutes later and asked if she could sit down on one of our chairs, because her water had just broken. And she had locked her keys in the car.

              Apparently her doctor told her to walk to trigger labor, so on CHRISTMAS EVE she decided to go to Walmart and shop with a friend instead of walking literally anywhere else. It was snowy and gross, the roads were terrible, and they ended up calling an ambulance because she needed to get to the other side of the city ASAP.

              We had a towel in the back, so we got that for her and let her sit until she could leave. My (very flamboyantly gay) manager was panicking, because ‘I don’t deal with women for fun, how do I deal with them in an emergency?’ as though we were expecting him to deliver the baby.

              1. dawbs*

                honestly, stores were where I walked when I was ordered to walk to trigger labor. It seems like a reasonable choice.

                It was going to be warm, relatively clean, and there would be people there–so at least someone who could call 911. Walking in my neighborhood, I could find myself on a deserted (and icy) sidewalk and in a heckuvalota worse situation. (and I could accomplish errands).
                Trying to pace back and forth in a 1000 sq ft house made me ready to climb walls pretty literally.

            4. Elizabeth West*

              That happened to a coworker from an old job. She was in the grocery store and *SPLOOOSH!* She said she felt really bad for the poor teenaged grocery employee who had to clean it up.

              1. Rainy*

                Some years back my now husband and I had driven to the next town to see a movie in the theatre that makes you drinks and I went to the washroom and found a puddle of blood and fluid, so I went and found a theatre employee (two actually) and said “hey, so there’s a puddle of blood and other liquids in the washroom, thought you might want to know” and they looked at each other and chorused “OH THAT’S WHERE”.

                Turns out the person’s water had broken and they’d rushed out of the washroom, gotten their husband, and then they’d both rushed out of the theatre, calling to the cashiers that they needed to get to the hospital as the baby was coming–but without saying WHERE their water had broken.

            5. Rock Prof*

              I was so convinced that sitcom water breaking wasn’t a real thing, until my own happened! Like others, I did need to get to the hospital really quick too. My son was breach (I found that out on Monday, water broke on Friday), and I was definitely in labor when the floods came, so there was definitely an urgent but not yet emergency-level need to get to the hospital quickly. Since this all happened a good couple weeks before the due date, my partner was out of town, so I was calling friends of friends to take me (which worked out) as he drove hours very quickly to the hospital.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          My first child was born about 54 hours after the waters broke.

          My second child was born about three minutes after the waters broke.

          You go to hospital when your waters break because you don’t know which of those extremes it could be.

        3. Aquawoman*

          It is hospital time, but that doesn’t mean it’s call an ambulance time. My water broke, my (now ex) husband drove us to the hospital.

          1. HBJ*

            And even this is not universally true. I had that dramatic, sitcom water breaking moment with my first. Absolutely no signs of labor and then pants-soaking, puddle-on-the-floor whoosh. I called my midwives, and they told me to stay home and try to get some rest until I went into labor. And if it got toward the 12-hour mark without labor starting, then I should call them and come in, and they’d try to start getting things moving. (I did start getting real contractions about six hours later.)

        4. Odd Duck*

          My water broke way before I had any contractions. I called the hospital and was advised to come in right away as they were afraid of the risk of infection. I didn’t start any contractions until pitocin was started hours later. It was the strangest thing.

          1. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

            Same thing with me. I had been to the OB a couple of days before and they were telling me I would probably need to be induced because my daughter was in no hurry to leave. 2 days later, my water broke and they started me on the pitocin drip.

          2. PhyllisB*

            That happened with my second. With my first I was in labor for hours. Already told tale of #3. You just never know.

        5. TootsNYC*

          “right away” means “go to the hospital, go directly to the hospital, do not pass Go, do not collect $200,” or it means “without running any errands or wasting time,” but it doesn’t have to mean “drive as fast as you can” or “call an ambulance.”

      3. Other Sherri*

        Except when it’s not. When your water breaks it can be very fast. Second births are also very fast. With my second, I gave birth with an hour of getting to the hospital. Good thing I did not want an epidural as there wouldn’t have been time.

        You really can’t tell ahead of time whether the labor is going to be fast or not, so unless you want a home birth, it makes sense to get to the hospital when either your water breaks or the contractions are close enough.


      4. Mockingjay*

        Umm, I almost didn’t make it to the hospital with my second. She was born 20 minutes after I got there. It would have been sooner but the nurses encouraged me not to push until my OB got there. (Thankfully he was close.)

        1. Rainy*

          My first husband once delivered a baby in the hospital, in an elevator between the 2nd and 3rd floors (L&D was on the 5th floor).

      5. Might Be Spam*

        Fortunately, I was already at the hospital for an ultrasound test because I was already 10 days overdue. I thought I was in labor but they insisted that I was not. Whereupon my water broke and my son was born 15 minutes later.

        1. nonegiven*

          My aunt went to the hospital to stay overnight, the doctor was going to induce her in the morning so he could be there in time. He also stayed over in the on call room. She woke up during the night and told the nurse she had a funny feeling it’s time to call the doctor, he barely made it.

      6. LPUK*

        My mum took 24 hours to deliver me. For my little sister , Dad was driving her to hospital and turned back to pick up his wristwatch (why?) and she was crowning as they pulled up outside the hospital. The nurse came out to put her in a wheelchair, my Mum said ‘ too late’ and hey presto, little sister!

      7. quill*

        It can happen pretty fast as well… and complications can happen very quickly at any point during the birth.

      8. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I never understand this rush to the hospital thing; labor is almost always very long and doctors don’t suggest you head to the hospital to late in the process.

        That’s what I understand for the first delivery, but subsquent ones become faster. The lay explanation I’ve heard is “the first time, the body is figuring out what to do, but after that, it already knows.”

      9. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impared Peep*

        As someone who was nearly born in Chicago traffic because I had to come out RIGHT NOW, you have no idea how long or short labor will be unless it’s your own. Also, you have no idea how traffic will be either. So good on that co-worker and shame on the company for that unless they’re willing to pay for ALL ambulance rides from that company. Or a cab or Uber (what I would be using).

        1. Figgie*

          One of my friends had just seen her obstetrician and been checked, told she wasn’t even close to giving birth and to go home. She didn’t even make it out to the car before she gave birth in the parking lot.

          A friend of my mother who was married to a pediatrician was in the hospital and (this was back in the day when spouses were not allowed in the delivery room) she was waiting for the obstetrician. Her spouse (because he was a pediatrician) was allowed to be with her.

          She yelled “Curtis the baby is coming!” He asked: “What am I supposed to do about that?” She swore a blue streak and told him to basically get down there and catch the damn baby before it hit the floor. He did and that is the story of their youngest sons birth. :-)

      10. L'étrangere*

        In general yes, but it’s only because my mother screamed at the top of her lungs that the doctor turned around and caught my sister before she took a plunge to the floor, soapy hands and all. Your mileage is guaranteed to vary, with birth

      11. Snuck*

        Friend of mine – first baby, out for dinner … says to her partner “Hrm… I think I have some back ache” and the decide to walk the two blocks to the hospital. Has baby in the corridor literally minutes later.

        It happens!

      12. CoveredinBees*

        Especially if it is just water breaking. That’s not always labor. It would be a “get to a hospital ASAP” situation if the water breaks early (usually before 37 weeks) because of issues around premature birth and given the baby a drug to help their lungs develop before birth. But water breaking is rarely the big splash or call to frantic action that movies and TV make it out to be.

    4. Up and Away*

      When I was pregnant, I lived in fear of that happening!! Part of my job involved walking around the factory floor, and I just KNEW my water would break out there. It did not, to my great relief.

    5. YA Author*

      My water also broke while I was at work and seated in an office chair. I cleaned myself up, changed my pants (close to due date, pregnant folks are advised to carry a go-bag), and drove myself home. My firstborn arrived about 12 hours later. Here’s the fun part of the story.

      An offsite employee in my department who was slightly senior to me decided to move in-house during my maternity leave. He took over my office, including my chair. Yes, the one into which my water broke. I presume he thought I wasn’t coming back from maternity leave, but I’m still salty he got away with this heist. Anyway, he was a nightmare to work with. I never told him about the chair, and he sat in it at least as long as I worked there (two more years).

  3. J!*

    Nothing will beat the sad piano man work Christmas party date story, which I think about sometimes out of the blue and it makes me laugh every time.

    1. Ali G*

      I feel bad for all the people in the world that do not know this exists. It is truly a Holiday gift to us all!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I posted a comment with a link, but while it goes through moderation, you can find it by searching:

          “the best office holiday party date story of all time”

          posted on December 5, 2019.

    2. not a doctor*

      Mine is “I will confront you by Wednesday of this week.” I have so, so many unanswered questions. They haunt me to this day.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Thank you. I needed that laugh today. I’m also cringing on her behalf, but mostly laughing. And kudos to the nice ladies who contributed drink tickets and bad date stories, and the nice couple who drove her home because I wouldn’t have trusted that guy not to take advantage, either.

    3. Reminder*

      For anyone who has missed it so far, that one got made into a hilarious Marvel fanfic over at Archive of Our Own!

      Search for “You’re Where You Should Be All the Time” by Laura Kaye.

      So. Good.

      1. Beth*

        There are multiple fanfics of that story!

        And I just found out that you get over a hundred hits if you search Ao3 for “Ask a Manager”. Alison, take a bow!

          1. Nobby Nobbs*

            The first couple are in the “character writes to a real-life advice columnist about their problems” genre, which is disappointingly not popular enough to have any sort of agreed-upon tagging convention and therefore unsearchable. That makes me sad.

            1. Calamity Janine*

              clearly, we need to make it a thing. perhaps an official thing.

              alison should steal this concept for april fool’s day, is what i’m saying.

              i will even write the letters. hand on heart, i will. sure, the only thing my brain is coming up with now is “worried stormtrooper from star wars writes alison an email with title of My Boss Just Strangled Another Manager – This Isn’t Normal, Right?”, but i’ll do it,

              1. Mr. Shark*

                i will even write the letters. hand on heart, i will. sure, the only thing my brain is coming up with now is “worried stormtrooper from star wars writes alison an email with title of My Boss Just Strangled Another Manager – This Isn’t Normal, Right?”, but i’ll do it,

                haha, that would be hilarious!!

            2. my dear Madame President*

              Gosh, there are SO many advice column letters to be extracted from the Doctor Who spinoff Gallifrey, which is basically a political drama with time travel, but unfortunately I think the overlap between AAM and Gally fandom is basically just me.

                1. SarahKay*

                  It’s an audio series by a company called Big Finish. Romana as president of Gallifrey, Leela and K9 are also in it; can highly recommend.

              1. Marco Diaz's Red Hoodie*

                *waves* Hi! It’s not just you! Unfortunately I haven’t listened to Gallifrey in years, but I did listen to… at least 4 or 5 seasons? My friend is trying to get me back into BF audios — I love them, it’s just that I got sucked into DnD fandom and have had a lot going on in my life this year… But anyway, at the very least the Venn diagram of AAM readers and Big Finish listeners does include both of us! I’d be very interested to see if anyone else appears out of the woodwork haha.

          2. SarahKay*

            This is true, but scrolling through them I’ve found two more based on this story. (Star Wars – “Christmas Magic” by LittleLostStar and Once Upon a Time – “hashtag holiday party” by Shireness, for anyone interested.)

            1. shireness*

              Cheers – I’m (irrationally) stuck between embarrassment that my story has circled back to the source and delighted that people have read it, but I’m choosing to commit to the latter. Always something interesting for the ol’ discord chat. Thanks for the mention!

      2. KaciHall*

        I do not know how I missed this. Haven’t looked at her author page and just waiting for another story to update, I guess.

        And now I have a whole other search term for ao3. Oops.

    4. Kvothe*

      The part that killed me in this story is when OP heard the story about herself years later! Imagine being that kind of living legend lol

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Yes, to me that was the best part of the story. It became such a legend that she hears about it from some random person years later! haha!

  4. Crystal Stair*

    This is copied and pasted from one of my comments in an open thread, but my awful last job made us do 12 Days of Holiday Cheer.

    I started my last job in November of 2020. Unbeknownst to me, sometime in October of 2020, the government agency we’d been working for had sent out some employee engagement surveys to every office. My office had scored pretty poorly on that front, due to having been overworked and understaffed for quite some time.

    In response to employee concerns about workload and staffing, the Director and the Deputy Director decided an effective way of improving employee morale would be to institute “12 Days of Holiday Cheer” in December of 2020. “12 Days of Holiday Cheer” was 12 CONSECUTIVE WORK DAYS of mandatory hours-long (yes, multiple hours-long) holiday-themed teambuilding events, conducted over video call. We were repeatedly told that participation was mandatory, that everyone had to have their cameras on, and that if we did not volunteer, we would be “voluntold.” During the holidays. While everyone was stressed about their crushing workloads.

    I can’t remember all of the teambuilders we did, but here are the particularly bad ones:

    – Making paper snowflakes. We spent more than an hour on a video call making paper snowflakes, and then INDIVIDUALLY holding them up to our webcams to try to get them to focus on the paper snowflakes. We then went around the call and voted on blatantly made-up categories of snowflakes (i.e. “most realistic snowflake,” “most elaborate snowflake,” “most creative snowflake,” “best non-traditional snowflake”). This took more than an hour.

    – Holiday-themed “Never Have I Ever.” Never Have I Ever is just not a game that can be both work-appropriate and interesting at the same time. We all had to put our fingers up in our video call squares and put them down one at a time for categories like, “Never Have I Ever…” “opened a holiday present early,” “told a child Santa wasn’t real,” “fallen asleep before midnight on New Year’s Eve.”

    – New Year’s-themed “Two Truths and a Lie.” I don’t know why this had to be New Year’s-themed. I have a hard enough time coming up with two truths and a lie regularly. This teambuilder did come with a story from the Director of the office, where she said that one New Year’s when she was a teenager, a guy she was seeing said that he was busy, so she snuck out of her house and climbed into his bedroom window to make sure that he wasn’t cheating on her. That was one of her two truths. She just dropped this into the teambuilder and nobody said anything about how maybe that was a weird story to tell the whole office.

    – Favorite holiday songs. A way to do this teambuilder which would have been fine and reasonable would have been for everyone to email a song to one person to put together a Spotify/YouTube playlist and then email out the playlist link. The way that my office actually did this teambuilder was to gather everyone in a video call on their work laptops, and then have everyone pull up their favorite holiday song on their cell phones, hold their cell phones up to the mic on their work laptops, and play 30-second snippets of each song from their cell phone speakers through their mics to everyone else listening on the call. After each snippet of a song, people would then comment on the song/artist, which added even more time. There was no queue order either, so people would have to do the awkward “You go,” “No, you can go,” over video call. This took more than an hour.

    – Elf Yourself. Do you remember those Elf Yourself videos that your Facebook friends were posting in 2008-2011? Where they put their own faces onto dancing animated elves while some cheesy music played? Good news, they’re still around!
    The entirety of the teambuilder was all 20-something people in the office sitting around watching one person screenshare them streaming Elf Yourself videos from the website, with our faces pasted in. But because each Elf Yourself video only fits 4-5 elves at most (a tragedy), we had to watch at least five different Elf Yourself videos. In their entirety. And occasionally put supportive messages into the chat to show that we, the employees, were feeling Very Engaged. “Oh haha this is so funny!” “Nice dance moves, @Coworker!”

    – Guess the movie from emojis. This one wasn’t even holiday-themed, but it was a teambuilder anyway. I guess it’s hard to come up with 12 holiday-themed teambuilders. The only reason I remember this one is because the Deputy Director (who was known for being petty and mean and generally a bully) made some snippy comment about how this teambuilder was originally going to be something different, but the management team changed it at the last minute, because “some of the MILLENNIALS ‘didn’t look engaged enough’ at the last teambuilder, so we thought we’d do something that speaks more to your interests.” At the time, there were only 4 people in the office who were millennials (including my elder millennial direct supervisor), so I’m pretty sure this was targeted at me. In my defense, it’s hard to look interested after the third consecutive Elf Yourself video.

    The 12 Days of Holiday Cheer ultimately culminated in holiday presents. The Director (and/or the Deputy Director and other managers) purchased individually-picked presents for each employee in the office, which is very out of the norm for the government. They mailed the presents to our homes that December without telling us that we’d be receiving presents or asking if we wanted to opt in or out. They didn’t see fit to mention this until like the 6th or 7th Day of Holiday Cheer either, after many presents had already been ordered and delivered to the recipients.

    A few people accidentally opened theirs early and got admonished by the Director for opening a present that they didn’t know they were getting, which showed up in regular Amazon packaging. Okay, cool. Mine came early, so I accidentally opened it because I thought it was something I’d actually ordered and had a WTF moment before learning about the presents. I ended up just taping the package shut again because I didn’t want to get yelled at for opening my own damn mail. We then had to open all of our presents on camera over video call, and act appropriately surprised and grateful.

    1. LKW*

      The logic astounds me… “How can I improve morale when my team is overworked and under-resourced? I know! I’ll make them spend 12 hours doing absolutely pointless crap that requires them to work an additional 12 hours to make up the lost time! That’ll work great! I’m so smart!”

      1. quill*

        In the middle of a pandemic, no less… you would think that the morale hit would be chalked up to that!

    2. mcfizzle*

      I… uh.. just… can’t.

      Umm what the actual F?!

      I would’ve been fired for flatly proclaiming I have a crushing workload that is far more pressing than any of those activities, then promptly disconnecting completely from whatever Zoom or Google session. The worst is that these people probably *still* think that was a “really great way to improve morale!”

    3. Anon for this*

      Ooooo. As someone whose department just collectively took advantage of an employee engagement survey, this response to our plight would be hilariously satisfying. “I’m sorry your fifty requests can’t be done because we’re being forced to spend hours cutting out snowflakes because we’re overworked” would be so incredibly funny.

      1. Nerfmobile*

        I am very curious – how did you “collectively take advantage” of an employee engagement survey? We are about to embark on another such survey (3 times a year, and managers get tracked on improving their team’s scores!), and I’d love to know how to get some actually useful outcome from it.

        1. Anon for this*

          Took it at the same time and discussed each question at length among the group to ensure we were all answering “excellent, could not be better” to every question that might possibly affect our boss, and giving our own (choice, angry) feedback on everything that referred to the exec level. Our boss is amazing for sheltering us as best they can from the debacle that is our upper management doing a “market rate analysis” on our salary but setting the parameters so that they’re the only employer that fits. For a job that can be done in multiple industries, not just this industry, and every other industry pays, at bare minimum, 20-30k more than they’re paying. Frankly the only reason I haven’t left yet is I don’t want to have to drive a moving van on icy roads so I’m waiting until spring.

          1. Anon for this*

            Note that we haven’t gotten any response to the survey yet, the data is still being crunched, but we think we did the best job we could to express our collective opinion that morale is hovering somewhere in the Earth’s core, and our boss is blameless in this.

      2. I could never get the hang of Thursdays*

        OMG this response to an employee engagement survey is impressively awful!

        We had one two months ago, and the first “official” response was…..a pizza party! With the idea thrown out from one of the exec’s at 5pm the day before so no one knew it was going to happen and everyone still brought their lunches, and no one announced that it was supposed to be explicitly a thank you related to the survey, except to a very limited group of managers.
        Thankfully, more substantial response seems to still be in the works and expected imminently.

    4. Duke Flapjack*

      This would be absolute hell for me. I hate “cutesy” and I detest forced team building. I would be falling asleep at my desk and would NOT be able to even come close to feigning interest.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        I’d be tempted to be drinking hot chocolate, and just not mention the “laced with Bailey’s” part. Hey, I’d be smiling, and that’s the important part, right?

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreed – Makes me love my manager’s approach to team building – hey all, if you’re interested we’re doing half an hour of heads up in the conference room.
        It’s totally optional, and we only play work appropriate decks. And there is never any criticism for not joining in, never ever.

    5. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Oh my God. Do you have nightmares about this, Crystal? Because I definitely would. I might even have one tonight. HOW AWFUL.

    6. Kesnit*

      Although my work laptop has a camera, I do not have one on my desktop. My mother-in-law’s work-provided desktop does not have a Web cam. I doubt I am the only person in the world who does not like having a Web cam. What were the people who don’t have a Web cam supposed to do since you were all supposed to be on video?

      1. OhNo*

        Probably pull out their phones and use the mobile version. One of my colleagues who just joined us had horror stories of her previous workplace over the last year and a half, and “use your smartphone if your personal laptop doesn’t have a webcam” featured in several of the worst ones.

      2. Midwest Teacher*

        Our work laptops are agency provided and all have cameras on them, so everyone has one. We work in education and I could easily see my bosses doing something horrific like this. We have full-day meetings once a month and are required to keep our cameras on and be engaged at all times.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          Not that “I” would have done it, but there is a setting that turns your video sideways. Just saying. It’s just a coincidence that it happened to me and I couldn’t fix it.

    7. Beebs*

      I have so many questions. Most of them are “Wait, what?” And “where did you find the strength not to just start screaming in annoyance during the Elf Yourself torture day?” And “why is a government office forcing everyone to participate in holiday cheer for a religious holiday that maybe not everyone celebrates?” And also, “wait, what?!?!?”

    8. CiaraNeko*

      I have no words. What if someone didn’t celebrate Christmas? So many things wrong with this. I’m a huge Christmas lover; seriously I truly enjoy most of the holiday/Christmas overload this time of year that many others hate, and even I know this is over the top nuts and kinda problematic too…

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      So much secondhand embarrassment from a single post!

      Your gift was a milk frother, right? Buzzfeed keeps including one in their gift guides this year and I laugh every time

    10. JSPA*

      First thought: this must have been intentional punishment for giving honest responses on the survey.

      Second thought: your chain of command were so clueless, that no conclusion can be drawn.

      Third thought: except that several of the activities were explicitly Christmas-themed. In a government office.

      Fourth thought: i do like the snowflake one, all the same (but not in the context of overwork and understaffing).

      1. Elenna*

        I do feel like the snowflake one might be fun on its own, as a quick 1-hour optional, repeat OPTIONAL, activity outside the context of overwork and minus the weird voting parts.

    11. Niniel*

      Just….AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! All of this is horrifying.

      Want to improve morale?? How about you give us all 12 days of vacation for holiday cheer!!!

    12. Empress Matilda*

      Oh my gosh this is amazing. Each of those would be bad enough on its own, but the fact that they all happened as part of the same “celebration!”

      I feel like it needs to be made into a movie or something, with our hapless heroine falling in love with her cute co-worker as they snark behind the scenes about how terrible it all is.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        And then, plot twist, one of them gets fired for opening their own mail, and their relationship can now be out in the open instead of hidden, as workplace dating often must be.

    13. Seconds*

      And blaming you for not liking it because you’re a milennial? As a Gen X-er who just missed being a Boomer, I can assure him that this is not a generational issue! Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure my parents (members of the Silent Generation, a term I’ve just now learned) would have hated this much, much worse than I would have.

      1. Berkeleyfarm*

        I was born during the Kennedy administrator and call myself “Gen Jones” (and explain that to people who don’t know the term). I will *fight* anyone who calls me a boomer.

    14. Usagi*

      I just want to say I laughed at “elder millennial.” Like I know exactly what you meant (I am an elder millennial) but it just made me imagine a tribe of millennials, with a village elder (who is just in the mid-high 30’s), imparting their wisdom learned from Ninja Turtles and Sonic cartoons, wearing a multitude of slap bracelets, and singing and dancing to ABBA.

      … or maybe that’s just I would do as the Elder.

      1. Marco Diaz's Red Hoodie*

        I’ll join you as an Elder Millennial bedecked with power bead bracelets as well as slap bracelets, imparting all the wisdom I’ve learned from cartoons — because that sounds amazing XD

      2. Brave Little Roaster*

        As an elder millenial (please don’t call us geriatric millennials!!), this is 100% accurate except instead of ABBA, I vote for Backstreet Boys, because I want it that way.

      3. SeluciaMD*

        I love every one of these comments and this Gen Xer would gladly switch tribes to have you as my Elders.

    15. Lucy Skywalker*

      That would have been bad enough in person (and actually may have been fun for some people) but over Zoom it sounds like it would be torture.

    16. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      I have nothing useful to add, this just sounds awful. And such a weird and pointless response? Why would ANYONE thing thus would help overworked and understaffed people?

    17. AVP*

      My father in law still LOVES Elf Yourself and sends us regular screen grabs of his creations (it’s just a screen grab so we can’t see the motion graphics). After ten years it’s gone back around to funny again for me but just barely.

    18. GammaGirl1908*

      Literal LOL and gasp at “I ended up just taping the package shut again because I didn’t want to get yelled at for opening my own damn mail.”

      Resigned compliance, that.

    19. Brave Little Roaster*

      I’m so sorry this happened to you but holy wow OMFG this is the kind of comment I came here to read. Very glad to hear this isn’t your job anymore! As someone who is not a big Christmas fan, I would have no choice but to pick Marley & Marley from the Muppet Christmas Carol as my favorite song and deal with the consequences.

  5. It'sABonesDay*

    There are certainly more wild stories than this, but I used to work for a non-profit that every year would turn the staff appreciation holiday party into a donor event that we had to work. This included edicts that we weren’t allowed to partake of any of the food until the donors were able to fix plates. Some employee appreciation, huh?

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      As someone who works for a non-profit (and on the fundraising side of things!) that is some major BS. Here our board members usually donate to the staff holiday party (not all of them, but a handful).

      1. It'sABonesDay*

        Oh, there was a whole lot more BS going on and most of it was because the big boss is the kind of person who likes to say “do you have any idea who I am” at the slightest inconvenience. It was a weird and toxic place that I’m very glad I eventually got out of.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Sure they appreciate they cna make the staff work their own party. Not letting them eat either is just the icing on the cake so to speak. Apparently it WAS their turn to bring the cake.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This is why I never went to the OldExjob Family Fun night at a pizza place with go-karts and terrible food. It was easy to beg off since I didn’t have any kids, but I was warned privately by my supervisor that the bosses would make me work. Thank you, supervisor, for helping me avoid that potential labor violation nightmare!

          1. Chantel*

            “Family Fun Night.” For work.

            Please let tarantulas lay eggs in my ears before I’d have to participate. Just…no.

    2. Lalaith*

      This reminds me of a holiday party at my last job. We were all supposed to invite our clients and it was more of a business networking event than anything else. Also there was VERY little food (a few passed appetizers), though there was an open bar. I don’t think anyone got trashed and misbehaved, although I left pretty early.

    3. Anon for this*

      I worked for a nonprofit that did something like this for their summer staff barbecue. They would throw a summer staff barbecue at the offsite pool we operated during the summer. Everyone got to go to the barbecue, go swimming…except the pool staff, who now had to schedule extra lifeguards and plan for a special event! (The lifeguards who worked that shift did get paid for their time, at least, but their salaried manager did not.)

      The piece de resistance was the year they left all the barbecue food supplies in the unairconditioned pool house for the entire summer, and then someone from maintenance unplugged the fridge and yada yada the Costco pack of hamburger rotted into a vile stinking goo. (I was in charge of the offsite that year, I said that neither I nor any of my staff would be cleaning that up on account of the fact that we did not make that mess and that I had already thrown out all the stale buns and smores supplies and hauled back a carload of bags of charcoal and plates. However the person who did also refused to come clean it up so some poor, long-suffering manager ended up having to do it for her. Of course.)

      1. Artemesia*

        that refrigerator should have been hauled to the dump. Once you unplug a refrigerator closed with food in it — it is done. I just spent a whole day cleaning my entire refrigerator with bleach foam cleanser because a small container of sushi got pushed to the back a couple of weeks ago and went full yuch and its smell could not be eliminated without a major deep clean — and this was a running refrigerator and only a couple of weeks. Every rubber gasket and crevice will hang onto the smell forever — they could never get that thing actually clean.

        1. Shorts shorts shorts*

          You have to clean them with vanilla essence. My parents once had a fridge incident after a week-long family holiday in summer and it worked a treat. The stench was so bad we could smell it outside the house when we got home.

    4. MansplainerHater*

      I worked at a non-profit that turned the staff party into a donor event… and they asked each of us to donate! The stated ask was like 10% of your salary. It was heinous.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        OldNonProfitJob required you to donate at least $20 to the organization after you were hired. You’re paying me to perform labor for you and you want it BACK?

        I will never not ask about this if interviewing for a non-profit job, and if they say “Yes we require a donation from staff,” I would hop on the Nope train to I Don’t Think This Would Be A Good Fit Town.

        1. SeluciaMD*

          I’ve taken the train there before! It smells of freedom and exactly zero toxic bullshit. It was lovely.

      2. Venti vanilla latte breve*

        I had something similar happen in my first professional job. My company invited a national non-profit to fundraise during a big employee meeting.

        I was making so little at the time that I almost qualified for public assistance. They really pressured every employee to donate a portion of their weekly paycheck and that every employee had to participate. Oh, and this was shortly after our company had layoffs and the remaining employees all had to take significant paycuts.

        I was so pissed. I gave $1. By the time the next holiday season rolled around, i had left for a better job.

        Im in a much better financial situation now and will never, ever give any money to this particular organization.

    5. Berkeleyfarm*

      Ugh, that qualifies as a “Worst Holiday Party” thing.

      Reminds me of the horrific story in the recent potluck thread of the library “employee potluck” that the director used to feed the board/community bigwigs, without providing extra food for all the extra guests that got put first in line, so between that and the sermonette delivered by one of the bigwigs, most of the staff got nothin’ while the director schmoozed away.

  6. Archie Goodwin*

    I don’t really have a funny story, but this seems as good a place as any to break out my traditional season greeting, honed over many years in the federal (well, contract) workforce. Whenever I see the decorations go up in the building lobby, I know it’s time to say:

    “Happy federally-mandated season of cheer.”

    1. Thursdaysgeek*

      And I will often sing my favorite Christmas carol (not when children are present):

      Better not shout, better not cry,
      Better not pout, I’m telling you why,
      Santa Claus is dead.

      (I love the reaction at the sudden ending of the song.)

      1. fun with math*

        Love it! I have a favorite Christmas carol, and it goes a little something like this: (A-one, a-two, a-one two three four)

        Deck the workplace with gasoline!
        Fa la la la la la la la la
        Light a match and run and scream!
        Fa la la la la la la la la
        See the workplace burn down to ashes!
        Fa la la la la la la la la
        No, actually just kidding, I would never do that!
        Fa la la la la la la la la

    2. Oakenfield*

      It offends me so greatly that our supposedly secular government places christmas trees and decorations in the White House!

      1. JSPA*

        It’s supposedly for the first family, who do live there, right? Though I bet that if Bernie had been elected, there would have been people losing their fricking minds, if there had been a non-christmas-themed display. Or, y’know, a collection for food banks and toys for tots, instead.

        1. JSPA*

          (Hoping this does not constitute a political post, as it does not reference the relative policies of the people in question.)

        2. Anonymous Luddite*

          Related: the day (night, really) I see a menorah in the window of the Oval Office is the day I blubber like a child. Yes, a lot of small minded people will lose their minds. And I will go through a box of Kleenex.

          1. fueled by coffee*

            Kamala and Doug have a mezuzah on the door of the VP mansion :)

            It’s the kind of thing I literally never thought I would care about until I saw the photos and got all verklempt.

            (But yes, I agree with the above – Christmas trees are fine in the White House because it’s also the President’s family’s home, and so far they have all been Christian, plus whatever Jefferson’s deist deal was).

            1. Ally McBeal*

              Well, they’ve been NOMINALLY Christian, largely because they have to be. I don’t believe for one single second that our most recent president attended church more than once a year, if that, until he had to for political reasons. (cough “Two Corinthians” cough)

            2. Rachel in NYC*

              I hadn’t seen that…and I’m a little jealous of their mezuzah. (not that I don’t like mine.)

    3. Magenta Sky*

      A friend of mine (who makes movie props for a living) actually made me a Santa Claus crucifix. I have never *quite* had the nerve to put it up on my office door with a caption of “Santa Claus didn’t die for your sins.”

      1. Aarti*

        The fact that the President and the First Lady recognized Diwali this year made me tear up a little.

      2. SeluciaMD*

        I love Christmas and would be filled with absolute joy and mirth if we worked together and you put that up. I think I’m just going to tuck “Santa Claus didn’t die for your sins” away somewhere safe and hope I can find an appropriate moment to break it out this holiday season. So thank you for that!

        Also: your friend is a genius.

  7. Someone*

    My supervisor and his wife threw a Christmas party at his house for employees and their spouses. About halfway through the party, his cute next door neighbor joined us and sat on his lap the rest of the night.

    1. Web Crawler*

      Was his cute next door neighbor a man, a woman, both, or neither? It doesn’t actually make a difference, I just want to know what to picture.

      1. Someone*

        A woman.

        In case you’re wondering, yes, my old supervisor and his cute neighbor do have a baby together now.

        1. Aarti*

          The only way this would be ok is if the cute neighbor was, like, a golden retriever. Which admittedly are pretty cute.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            Yes, but that would also make the part about them having a baby together MUCH more concerning…

        2. Alex the Alchemist*

          And here I was hoping that the cute next door neighbor was a neighborhood cat who dropped by to say hi.

  8. Stephanie*

    My mom told me this story – it’s from the late 80s or early 90s:

    her office was doing a Secret Santa and when you wrote your name down, you were also supposed to write an idea or two. One coworker wanted the new Meatloaf CD that had just come out so he wrote down Meatloaf. Cut to the day of the holiday party and it’s time to give the present. The giver runs to the refrigerator as he had bought frozen meatloaf dinners for the present!

    When my mom first told me this story, I cried from laughing so hard.

    1. Pikachu*

      How long did it take before “But I won’t do that!” jokes were permanently banned from the premises?

    2. A Library Person*

      Something similar happened to me when I was in middle school. We were doing a friend gift exchange, and I thought we were supposed to be writing down the name of the person we wanted…which is how I ended up with a copy of the book “Christy”. I never did read it, which in retrospect is probably a good thing (for me at least) given the Wikipedia summary.

      1. YesItIs*

        Oh my. I still have the school library copy of “Christy” from high school. I did read it several times back then.
        I’m 66 now.

      2. No Name Today*

        Had a friend in library school tell me a story. She wasn’t paying attention in second grade when the teacher called on her:
        “your color?”
        “oh, that’s an interesting choice.”
        (friend thinking, I didn’t really choose to be black, but whatever.)
        Teacher to next student: “And what is YOUR favorite color?”
        My friend owned it. Committed to having black as her favorite color for the rest of grade school. :)

        1. Wendy*

          My husband’s professed favorite color, from age 3 onwards, was “off-white.” Never failed to get oohs and aahs from little old ladies :-P

          (He claims that’s because it’s the first color he ever learned that wasn’t one of the basic rainbow shades and he was excited there was this whole world of possibilities out there, but a tow-headed 3yo saying “off-white” would have me coo over him too!)

          1. Nanani*

            A toddler in my extended family is at the stage where asking everyone their favourite colour is very important, but there’s a struggle to understand that multiple people can have the same favourite colour.

            The conversation goes like this:
            (Adult), what’s your favourite colour??
            – Blue
            NO my mom likes blue! :(

            Run to another adult, repeat.

        2. Might Be Spam*

          My mother assigned us favorite colors in the order that they were in the disposable Dixie Cups box. Red, yellow, blue, green. As the oldest, my assigned favorite color is red. When my youngest sister was born there weren’t enough colors, so mom assigned her the color orange. At least 2 of my sisters actually hate their assigned colors, the rest of us are just “meh”.

    3. LKW*

      You know, the CD would have only kept your mom entertained for a short time. But this story will entertain for years!

    4. Duke of Mildew*

      My old office used to do a secret santa as well, where people would write down what they wanted. More than half the people would say things like “Gift card” to whatever store they wanted. I just shook my head and wondered what the point was. Needless to say, I never participated.

      1. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

        Eh I would love this. Office Secret Santa is always awful for me unless I actually know the person, so knowing they’d prefer a Dunkin vs Starbucks gift card would make everything easier.

        1. Al*

          Commenting late:
          My office used a site called DrawNames this year. It allows whoever is administering the exchange to note the budget guidelines and add everyone’s name, and then you “draw a name” and are randomly assigned one of the other participants. Each person can leave notes about what kind of things they like. There’s even a wishlist that integrates with Amazon and Etsy (for people who feel okay using those) to tag specific items.

    5. Elevator Bystander*

      Reminds me of the year my brother asked for a Korn CD for Christmas (oh, the ’90s) and the whole family gathered around the tree and watched him unwrap a bag of frozen corn (well, room temperature at this point) in which the CD was hidden.

      1. Lady H*

        Aww this is great! I love this visual of like, a surly teenager dealing with their family delighted by the pun :) only because I myself was surly when I briefly listened to Korn sometime in my teens.

      2. VegetarianRaccoon*

        They did the pun AND he got what he really wanted, I see no downside! I bet it’s the same CD I asked for, but my parents never got me :(

    6. Jam on Toast*

      A similar Christmas mistake happened when my mother ventured into a music store and told the clerk she wanted to buy the latest Squashed Melon CD for my brother’s stocking.
      In my mother’s mind, Squashed Melons = Smashing Pumpkins!

      1. SeluciaMD*

        I think that’s kind of adorable. And henceforth, I shall only refer to Smashing Pumpkins as Squashed Melons.

        1. SeluciaMD*

          Hit submit too fast! My dad and your mom would have gotten along famously. One day he was trying to ask my brother about a song he’d heard that he liked from a band called “They May Be Mountains.” He meant They Might Be Giants. My brother and I are still pretty tickled by that one.

      2. Tierrainney*

        I know some one who referred to the group “Bang” (Wham) and no one could find any album from that group!

        1. saf*

          Once I was on the bus. The older gentleman across the aisle was on the phone with his daughter? Grandaughter? And he asked, “Why did you put that Half Dollar on my ipod? You know I don’t like that music!”

      3. Srah*

        My Dad tried to buy my mum CDs by Sixpence None the Wiser (Sixpence None the Richer) and Unnatural Acts (Human Nature). His sister tried to buy her son a CD from Rage in the Cage (Rage Against the Machine).

  9. Lynca*

    I’ve never had a really funny Christmas work story. The one I would share is more heartwarming than funny though it is about giving a kid a rock as a gift.

    1. A Library Person*

      We got the heartwarming noodles story from the Potluck Fiasco prompt, so I think this would be very welcome. :)

      1. ThatGirl*

        spring rolls, actually (if we’re thinking of the same story) but yes, heartwarming is always welcome

        1. A Library Person*

          Ack! You’re right, it was definitely spring rolls. It’s almost lunch time here, I think my stomach got ahead of my brain on this one.

      2. Lynca*

        Alright then.

        In the before times we had a large Christmas party the last working day before the holidays. It was a very family friendly party with food, crafts, games, a visit from Santa, etc. so people would bring family members/kids. I would generally work in my office during the party after eating some food/talking to people. I didn’t have kids at the time so I wouldn’t be participating in most of the other activities.

        So one year, I had a co-worker come up and knock on my door. She had brought her niece and wanted to introduce her to me. This co-worker was from a different unit and we didn’t know each other very well, so it was a little strange she wanted me to meet her niece. But then she said “This is Ms. Lynca, she’s the geologist I told you about.”

        Her niece smiled so big and asked me all sorts of questions about how did I become a geologist and how could she become a geologist because she loved rocks. So I talked with her for a while about where I went to school, how I became a geologist, and showed her the rock/fossil collection in my office. We talked about the rocks she had in her collection and I offered to give her one of mine. So I picked one of my nicest samples and gave it to her after explaining the type of rock it was, how it was formed, and what minerals it was made up of.

        After that I made a point to have spare, good hand samples so that if I had another interaction with her or any other kid, I would have something to be able to gift to them.

        If we ever get back to being able to do that kind Christmas Party again, I kind of want to set up a Christmas rock station for doing things like painting rocks or digging for fossils for the kids.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Might I recommend a rock polisher? Those things are cool to watch and you get a pretty, shiny rock at the end.

          1. Selina Luna*

            On the other hand, those things are so loud, you can hear them in the next county when they’re working… At least, the ones when I was a kid were like that.

            1. WantonSeedStitch*

              When I had one, we set it up in the shed outside, so it could keep running and we wouldn’t have to hear it. It could be helpful before gifting one to find out if someone has a convenient space like that! Cellars might also work.

          2. Lynca*

            The noise would make that a non-starter unfortunately. But most of the rocks I have go through some prep work (they’re cut/have polished faces) anyway so they are shiny on one side at least.

            Plus you want some rough surfaces for teaching mineral identification.

        2. cosmicgorilla*

          This is so wholesome. So often this holiday party stories are shitshows. You made that kid’s Christmas. I bet she’ll remember you when she’s pursuing her dream!

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Same here – for my girls the highlight of any camping trip is the afternoon we set aside to go rock hunting.

        3. Karen*

          I don’t usually comment but this gave me goosebumps. That is lovely and I would have loved a rock station at a party when I was a kid. The Royal Ontario Museum had a hands on area (I’m assuming it was artifacts that turned out to be unimportant or too broken to be of value) and it was always the highlight of my visit.

          1. Tracey*

            I love the ROM! When I was eight or nine years old I found a rock with a fossil in it in my backyard. My parents arranged a family trip to the ROM where we met an expert who explained what it was and how old it was. I had a fantastic day! I remember being thrilled to find out that they kept a bunch of rocks that they wanted to split on the roof of the ROM. Apparently the constant freezing and melting of Toronto weather did the work for them. I had a fantastic science fair project that year.

        4. Retired Prof*

          Hello fellow geologist. When my kids had their Special Birthday Week in elementary school, I often brought in the dinosaur fossils from the paleontology lab, then helped the kids make plaster copies of little fossils – snails, tiny ammonites, little brachiopods. One day I was wheeling my cart back to the car with the Allosaurus skull cast on the top, and one of the other moms stopped. “Well, that’s just no fair. How is any one else ever going to be the cool mom when you bring dinosaurs to school?” We had a laugh but I did relish being the cool Dino mom.

          1. Bilbo Buggins*

            You’ll be a hit at middle school school career day as well! “Marketing manager” doesn’t stand up to “dinosaur Hunter.”

        5. Best Holiday party*

          My kid would DIE for a fossil digging station at a work party, you will be the best friend of all of the children and beloved by parents.

        6. I take tea*

          Role model! Very important. What a lovely story, thank you for doing this and thank you for sharing!

        7. Caroline Bowman*

          This is adorably wonderful. My beloved dad was a geologist and obsessed with rocks – something that passed me by to a large extent – but my son is completely fascinated by geology and my huge, huge sadness is that my dad isn’t here for it. They’re so similar in so many ways and he’d have been amazing.

          Love this story.

    2. You get a pen and you get a pen*

      Bad day apparently because I read that as “giving Kid Rock as a gift” and I laughed so hard, I cried

    3. Anon for this*

      My first office holiday party, someone persuaded a few higher ups who weren’t in our department to schedule a meeting that one of our directors HAD to attend, no getting around it, and got the person running our gift exchange to delay the beginning of the gift exchange until after the director left. Then when his name was called they “picked for” him. The gift was a santa hat and a t shirt with a picture of the other department director’s face. It was quite funny.

  10. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    At our holiday party, one of my coworkers over-imbibed, but thankfully, she was a Happy Drunk. At one point in the evening she pulled me aside to tell me that my boyfriend was a “stud” and to let her know if we ever broke up. I found it amusing, my boyfriend, fully informed of the encounter after the party was over, found it amusing, and I called him “Stud” exclusively for a couple of days. I did not, however, give her a heads up when we stopped seeing each other.

    1. WhiskeyTango*

      My version of this was not a Christmas party, but a summer work party. My co-worker got drunk and spent the whole evening telling my husband that his wife (me) was “hotttt” (emphasis on the “t”).
      My husband was amused. My co-worker’s husband was not.

  11. Anonsy*

    My work had an office party at a place that had dim lighting I’m sure for atmosphere, because in the daytime it was perfectly lit. Part of their decor were waterpools/waterfalls on black smooth rock of some kind all over. It was all very subtle and classy looking.

    It also just looked like a long black shiny bench against a wall. Guess how many ladies in fancy wear sat down in a puddle of water? Or the people who just stepped near it and stepped into water? And of course the drunks who just fell in, because that’s what drunk people do when there’s water in the vicinity.

    The best part is, we had our parties there for years. And despite people mentioning it, it happened every darn year.

    1. EPLawyer*

      That place is stupid. OF COURSE in the dim light people aren’t going to see the water. I would send them my dry cleaning bill.

      1. Anonsy*

        I mean, to their credit they had little placards stood up all over the darn thing that said “water fountain” that were white. People just don’t read.

        1. fun with math*

          People tend to interact with an object based on its form, regardless of how many signs you attach to it. If something looks like a bench, people will sit on it.

          Same thing happens with badly designed exit doors. Despite the sign reading “Push,” if the handle looks like it’s meant to be pulled, people will pull it.

        2. quill*

          If I was walking around in fancy shoes I wouldn’t have TIME to read before my body decided that my feet had had enough.

    2. Mostly Managing*

      I can’t help thinking someone in charge of the event was as amused by this as I am, and that’s why they kept going back.

      “Ooh, let’s go there again and see how many people get wet. My money’s on five this year.”

    3. Funbud*

      A fancy hotel near Princeton NJ had a huge atrium/lobby with many levels. At the very bottom were shallow ponds full of Koi fish. A friend of mine went to a training there on a Saturday. A wedding was going on; lots of people in fancy clothes milling around. Looking for the right conference room, he walked past a lady in a big hat & frilly dress bending over to look at the fish. He went down the wrong hallway and turned back, hearing a commotion. When he came back into the lobby he saw the lady had fallen over into the Koi pond and several people were trying to fish her out!

      1. KoiFeeder*

        This is where you really hope the koi aren’t friendly. Some of the most placid, friendly koi in my pond will straight-up swim inside your shirt if you fall in. They’re just happy to be included.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      This reminds me of the time my team at Exjob had dinner in an upscale local restaurant where we’d previously gone for lunch. The food at lunch was good and the place was bright and cheery so I expected it to be fun. But at night, they turned the lights so low I needed my phone flashlight to read the menu. When my food arrived, I could not see what I was eating. I could barely see my dining companions. Worst dinner ever.

    5. LPUK*

      I remember being on holiday and going to a nightclub filled with heavy glass coffee tables, which were naturally invisible in the low lighting. People fell over them repeatedly. Next morning at the pool, you could tell who’d been at the nightclub by the matching bruises on their shins

    6. BellaDiva*

      Ok, not a holiday party, but at the annual doggie daycare open house, there would always be someone who sat down on the raised “doggy latrine”, which looked like fake grass (usually followed by shock, then resignation, as they felt the dampness. I don’t know why they didn’t put signs out.

    7. Strict Extension*

      Not quite work, but a committee I serve on hosts an event series at private homes. One of the most spectacular we’ve used had a bunch of unique features, one of which was a hot tub set into the floor of one of the main entertaining spaces, flush with the surrounding tile and painted black. There was word-of-mouth warning folks about it, but that didn’t stop another committee member’s wife from walking straight into it, gown and all. She laughed it off and quite gamely spent the rest of the evening chatting with donors and other VIPs while soaking wet.

  12. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Seems like every year in the 90s we had some kind of drunken shenanigans.

    One year somebody stumbled into the big fountain in the middle of the historic building we rented.

    Another year, when we were in a large hotel, one of the HR people went upstairs to the room that they rented to stage all the stuff in order to grab something, and encountered another HR person knocking boots with a fellow employee. At least they were both single.

    1. SeluciaMD*

      Not a Christmas story at all, but when I was a teenager (before I was old enough to drive) I fell into the big fountain that was in the middle of the mall and then had to walk to the other end of the mall in wet jeans and squishing shoes to the door where we were being picked up by my friend’s mom. (This was the era before cellphones were ubiquitous). I’m 45 now and the two people from that time in my life that I’m still friends with STILL bring it up and taunt me about it to this day. I will never live it down.

  13. They Don’t Make Sunday*

    I haven’t finished my coffee yet and misread the headline as “feminist office holiday stories.” I hope we have some of those, too!

  14. Longtime Lurker*

    I’d been at a paralegal job for a year and a half, had announced my last day was 12/30 since I was moving to start grad school in January. At the holiday party I won the “grand” prize – a ipod (this was a huge deal back then). One of my co-workers (who was drunk then and aggrieved always) made a big fuss about how it wasn’t fair because I was leaving and shouldn’t get anything. It became a scene and one of the partners, who didn’t actually know me, someone got pulled into her drama. Listened to her, told her she was being ridiculous, and sought me ought to tell me to enjoy the ipod with his full blessing.

    1. Elevator Bystander*

      Ugh, that reminds me of when I worked at a company that did a team-elected MVP award with a cash prize every quarter, and my work buddy who had been with the company for at least five years and was very deserving finally won it for the first time, but awkwardly had just accepted a job with a competitor and gave notice the next day. And they rescinded the award, cash prize included (it was like $400 as I recall so no small thing)! I’m still angry on his behalf, but the competitor paid a lot better (I eventually quit to work for them too) so at least he had some financial consolation.

    2. HS Teacher*

      I have a knack for winning things, especially raffles. At my former job, in addition to winning almost every raffle they had, I won the grand prize at our holiday party three years in a row, much to the chagrin of my rather nasty coworker, who would gripe and cry foul every time I won. I was the only POC at this large agency, and I always felt like her dislike for me had more to do with racism, but she never crossed the line. She was just a miserable person. She accused me of rigging the raffles, which were mostly conducted by our vendors, so my rigging them was impossible. She also said my assistant shouldn’t get a Christmas bonus because she doesn’t celebrate Christmas in her religion. She was just a bigoted, unpleasant person.

      Knowing how much it bothered her, I would celebrate enthusiastically every time I won something. The funny thing is that I certainly didn’t need the electronics, tickets, and trips that I won over the years. I usually just gifted them to my assistant. I only celebrated because I knew how upset it was making this woman.

      When I won season tickets to our MLB team at a spring corporate event, she went apoplectic. I kept those for myself, while enjoying her salty, salty tears.

      1. Emma2*

        Because Christmas bonuses are handed out by companies to reward staff for being Christian? Ugh, I don’t know how you put up with her.

        1. Emma2*

          To be clear that was sarcasm – the coworker sounds horrible and bigoted, but also the bonus comment is just so ridiculous

  15. KLMNOP*

    I used to work at a big fancy hotel. I had been there a couple of years and was always happy to cover Christmas and Christmas Eve because my family is Jewish and does not celebrate. One year, manager called me over, super pleased with himself, and told me he was giving me “the holidays” off, since I had to work them in the past and was doing such a great job. I politely declined, saying I didn’t mind working them, and preferred to give my co-workers the opportunity to spend time with their families. We went back and forth for a bit, and he actually got angry I was “rejecting his gratitude”. I reminded him that Christmas and Christmas Eve were just a Tuesday and Wednesday to me, and then he got really confused. This man in his 40’s seriously didn’t realize until that moment that Jewish people don’t celebrate Christmas.

    1. Jay*

      I may have told this here before….I’m a doc so of course someone always has to work. I am also Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas so I always work. Before my daughter was born, I would volunteer to work all the official hospital holidays so I could use the comp time to take off for the Jewish holidays I actually celebrate, since we don’t have local family and I don’t really care about celebrating July 4th, Memorial Day, etc. After I’d been doing this for four or five years my boss called me and said it wasn’t allowed. Why? Because it wasn’t fair that I had to work all those holidays. I explained that it was my choice and I was happy to do it. He said no, he wouldn’t do it, and therefore I wasn’t allowed to. After some back and forth I finally explained that I preferred to do this because I could then get off for the Jewish holidays. He started ranting about Jews and special pleading and said it was just coincidence that we didn’t have full working hours on Christmas and Easter.

      At that point I dropped it. The schedule came out and the week before each holiday I went to whoever was due to work and offered to switch. No one ever said no.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        God god. I know ignorance about a group and prejudice against them are common bedfellows, but that one takes the cake.

      2. No Name Today*

        when you rejected his offer, he called you greedy and selfish for working a day with fewer hours?!

        1. Jay*

          The “coincidence” thing was in response to my comment that he didn’t have to take vacation time for his holidays but I did for mine. Spoiler: it’s not a coincidence. Also: it’s not just Jews! I used to enjoy making rounds on Christmas with my Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu colleagues. The potlucks were epic.

          1. No Name Today*

            I read that first sentence three times.
            It was a coincidence that his religious holidays are practically federally mandated holidays.
            It’s a coincidence that Jewish holidays never seem to fall on traditional business holidays.
            It’s a coincidence that you happened to think of and type out this story under the heading of holiday disasters.

          2. Charlotte Lucas*

            When I worked retail, I was always willing to work the day after Thanksgiving (“Black Friday” wasn’t a common term back then). What else was I going to do? The truth is that shopping that day is awful, & you don’t really save that much money, if any. I might as well be paid for going to the mall! And someone always brought in treats.

    2. thatjillgirl*

      It’s a little remarkable how many people who are Christian or Christian-adjacent forget that “Christ”mas is also Christian or Christian-adjacent, and that many non-Christians of the world happily live their lives not celebrating it.

  16. Not really a Waitress*

    I was not there that year, but I used to work as a Department Store Manager at a very large department store. The day before Christmas, the store manager invited all the dept managers up to his office for santa shots (special liquor in little Santa Shot Glasses) Then took ALL OF THEM to the other end of the mall to see a matinee at the theater. Leaving the whole store without a manager on Christmas Eve.

    1. Allornone*

      I used to work at book stores (Borders, then B&N). Book stores are not big Black Friday destinations, but they are a good last-minute “Oh god? What can I get them? Maybe there’s something in that book store!” destination, so Christmas Eve is by far the busiest day. This story horrifies me.

      1. Sharpieees*

        I used to work at a B&N (pre-Amazon/Google/internet shopping). My favorite Christmas Eve “I don’t know the name of it….” customer called and said she was looking for a book about a soldier. Couldn’t give a title or an author or the name of the soldier or which war it was. Did she see it on TV or in the newspaper? No. Her husband mentioned a book about a soldier, but she couldn’t remember the title, but she wanted to get it for him for Christmas. Was it new? She didn’t know. I wasn’t aware of any books about a soldier that was widely popular or on the bestseller list, so I was out of options. She got angry when I told her that, no, I couldn’t go out and search for books about soldiers and read the titles to her at 3pm on Christmas Eve when there was easily a line of 100+ people wrapped around the store. Good times.

        To this day I wish I knew what book she was looking for. One of the small mysteries that I will never solve.

          1. a frog*

            I worked in multiple bookstores and, jeez, the people who worked the kid’s section were amazing. “That red book. I think it has a duck on the cover.” was common for them. I would say that every single one I worked with for any extended period of time had a 90+% success rate in finding said book.

        1. Small town Office Manager*

          I worked at a video rental store in college. This is probably the same person who came in and asked for “that movie, you know, the one with that guy in it!”

          1. SeluciaMD*

            My dad about every movie/book/band/song in the history of ever. “It’s the one that has that guy from that thing! You know the thing! That we watched that time? Based on that book by that famous lady. You know the one!”

            Every. Single. Time.

            And does he get pissed off when you can’t parse (or intuit or mind-read) what or who the hell he is talking about? He does, my friends. Indeed he does. Every. Single. Time.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*


      In my limited retail experience, it’s the worst day of the year for difficult customers (black Friday wasn’t a thing here then). The only people shopping on Christmas Eve are the ones who aren’t good at shopping. They’re panicky and indecisive, and they simply cannot believe that you didn’t hold back a few This Year’s Best Thing for people who’d need them at the last minute.

      Deliberately removing every person with the authority to accommodate difficult customers that day is literally incredible.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        It’s traditionaly the second-biggest shopping day of the year. Big day for jewelers, as many of those shopping are men looking for something for their wives or girlfriends.

      2. SeluciaMD*

        Reading that just made me go cold. I used to work in a toy store and our absolute worst Christmas Eve ever was one where the entire register system went down like an hour after we opened and could not be resuscitated. We had to do every transaction by manually writing down barcode numbers, brief descriptions and prices on old school carbon copy receipts, calculating tax and discounts with calculators, taking carbons of credit cards, and make change manually (something that struck terror in the hearts of some of our younger staff that were so reliant on the register to tell them what the change was supposed to be). The line wrapped around the entire perimeter of the store and was like that until we locked the door at 6pm. I was a key-holder then and I don’t know what I would have done if the manager had bailed on me. We ended up being at the store until nearly 11pm trying to make sense of people’s cash drawers, trying to determine what the drop should be for that night, and trying to organize what we had in terms of a paper trail because we knew that as soon as corporate got our system back up and running, we were going to have to manually enter every single one of these receipts (and then credit cards and what have you) into the system and then figure out how to reconcile where things were off because someone miscounted/miscalculated/didn’t remember something was on sale etc. That was also not fun, but at least you didn’t have anxious, angry, impatient people frothing at the mouth at you while you did it.

        Thank God the manager on duty stayed the whole time. He opened so he was supposed to have left at 3 and I was supposed to essentially be the closing manager. But he stuck with us the whole day and night and did not leave me alone with that disaster, for which I shall be forever grateful.

        If I had been an employee at that department store working Christmas Eve without a single manager on the premises? I think I would have been incandescent with anger. I also think I would have reported them all to our district or regional manager after they left to go to the movies. That’s some seriously egregious BS.

    3. Coder von Frankenstein*

      This feels like an “epic quit” story. Did the store manager move on shortly thereafter?

    4. allathian*

      Ouch! I remember working in a bookstore as a student. It was better than working in a grocery store, but it was also very, very busy during the Christmas season.

  17. Clefairy*

    I used to work in a theme park. It was Christmas Day, and it was a BUSY. I was working at the Greeter position of my ride, enjoying the holiday music playing over the loudspeakers, when my ride broke down. I closed the entrance and allowed no one else in, as was policy. Everyone in the queue, at that point, was welcome to stay BUT we weren’t able to allow folks back in if they chose to leave. Firstly, the number of people who SCREAMED at me because I RUINED THEIR CHRISTMAS over one ride (not even the most popular ride!) in the park being closed was absolutely absurd. Secondly, I had a father and his 12 year old (who were literally the last people who had entered before I closed the entrance- they were at the very back of a 3 hour queue) exit to go to the restroom- they asked if they would be let back in, and I told them no, unless they had someone inside holding their spot, which they didn’t. I recommended the 12 year old go to the restroom on his own, which was only about 20 feet away from where we were standing. They refused, and left together. 10 minutes later, they fought their way through the literal hoards of people standing around the entrance asking questions and hoping for my ride to reopen. They demanded to be let in. I told them no, and reminded them that I had told them no when they exited. If I let them in now, I’d have probably 50 already very angry people who I wans’t letting in get even angrier. The dad screamed in my face. The 12 year old kicked me in the shin hard enough to leave a bruise. I called security, and they were trespassed. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

    If you or your loved ones choose to visit a theme park on a holiday, just know that these are the most brutally busy days of the year, and the employees you interact with would almost CERTAINLY rather be at home with their families, but can’t so that you and your family can come and play. Please be kind!

    1. Student Affairs Sally*

      The thought of going to a theme park on Christmas has literally never occurred to me – it kind of blows my mind that those are the busiest days of the year!

      1. Clefairy*

        Lots of locals buy annual passes for their family for Christmas and then go once they are done opening presents

        Also, because Christmas Break is time off from school that ALL school districts in the country (and around much of the world) observe, everyone is planning their vacations at the same time because they don’t want their kids to miss school.

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Since my local theme parks are all closed on Christmas (hello from New England!) it would not occur to me to go there either. Disney for a vacation, sure, why not, but just for the day? What luxury!

        1. PT*

          I grew up in NYC metro area, and a LOT of grandparents from there retired to Florida. So Disney over Christmas break was part of a family visit, either to celebrate Christmas (if your family celebrated) or just to see grandparents (if your family did not celebrate) for a lot of classmates.

          My grandma chose to stay retired in her Queens apartment so alas, no Disney for me.

        2. quill*

          Yeah, as a lifelong midwesterner until this year, I was like “who shovels the roller coasters?”

      3. Momma Bear*

        It would make sense to go do something on a day a lot of people have off if that day doesn’t matter to you (not your holiday). I’m just surprised the theme park is open.

          1. Vito*

            I worked for a real “Mickey Mouse” organization in Orlando and remember working NYE day in the park, it was really fun when they started handing out hats and noisemakers at like 2 in the afternoon.

      4. On Fire*

        Similarly, I was a married adult before I learned that some people go to movies on holidays. For us, and all my friends, holidays were spent with family.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Same! I was also an adult when I learned that other people have BBQs on Memorial Day instead of just going to the cemetery then out for lunch.

        2. Filosofickle*

          Me too. But I wish I’d known! We were not moviegoers in general but our family holidays were small and VERY BORING. For Christmas it was only my little nuclear family and visiting grandparents, who stayed with us for two weeks so it’s not like we didn’t get plenty of time together. We didn’t watch sports or tv and didn’t play games, it was mostly sitting around so I’d have loved an excuse to get out of the house for a few hours. I assumed literally everything was closed and it never occurred to me to ask!

          1. allathian*

            When I was a kid, everything was closed on Christmas. The expectation was that people spend the holidays with their families. Movie theaters closed on Christmas Eve, and opened again on Boxing Day at the earliest. Even public transit shut down from midday on Christmas Eve to Boxing Day. I’m in Finland, and the big day is Christmas Eve, when presents are given in the evening, and the main Christmas dinner is eaten.

            This started changing when I was a young adult in the early 90s, and society became more diverse thanks to larger numbers of non-Christian immigrants. This also coincided with the realization that lots of young urban people, even if they do celebrate Christmas with their families, would enjoy going to the movies on their days off.

            When I was a kid, movie theaters were open in the summer, but no premieres were ever scheduled between mid-June and mid-August. The assumption was that most people would be taking their vacations in the country with either rural relatives, or a summer cabin. Summer was meant to be spent outdoors, not shut up in a movie theater. This only changed in the late 90s with the internet making piracy so much easier, and movie studios wanting worldwide premieres around the same time. Needless to say, we’ve learned the value of pleasant air conditioned movie theaters in the summer… For the same reason, summer TV was boring, reruns all the way.

            1. Berkeleyfarm*

              We have “summer blockbusters” but a lot of the Oscar-worthy films do get released in time for “holiday viewing”.

              When I was a girl in a small town back in the stone age, our theater was closed on Christmas Eve and Day. When I got to college my new Jewish friends informed me that “Chinese food and go to the movies” was a common way for Jewish people to spend December 25 (they had grown up in bigger areas). But as you note some bright spark in marketing realized that people might like a “get out of the house”/entertainment break so everywhere is open.

      5. Rachel in NYC*

        I’ve gone skiing on Christmas but I’d never think about going to a theme park at Christmas.

    2. Semi Bored IT Guy*

      Been there, done that. I quickly lost count of how many vacations I “ruined”, either because an attraction was down, or the weather wasn’t nice, or their child wasn’t tall enough (at rides with a height requirement)

    3. Aquawoman*

      I know this is an aside but I’m confused about why people would want to stay in line for a ride that is not operating?

      1. Clefairy*

        It’s a good question! If someone had already waited, say 2.5 hours for a ride, they want to stay in line in hopes that it opens back up soon. An extra 20 minutes when you’ve already sunk 2.5 is going to be a lot quicker than leaving the queue, and then coming back when it is open and having to start a 3 hour queue all over again.

        It’s been 8 years since I’ve worked there so I might have the numbers wrong, but if I’m remembering correctly, the normal policy when a ride shut down for 1-44 minutes, folks would be allowed to remain in the queue, and if they chose to leave, they didn’t get anything. If the ride ended up being closed for 45+ minutes (or if the techs determined early on that it would in fact be a lengthy downtime), then the queue would be dumped and everyone in line would be given a one time pass to skip the line later. They don’t dump the queue/give out passes initially because they don’t want to flood the park (and especially the surrounding attractions) with hundreds of guests with single use skip-the-line passes if the ride is going to be back up shortly

        1. Empress Matilda*

          Oh, that’s really interesting – I love these behind the scenes looks at various jobs. Thanks for sharing!

        2. Elizabeth West*

          The only time we ever waited a long time for a ride was as kids, at Six Flags over Texas on a brutally hot summer day. Everyone wanted to go through Speelunker’s Cave repeatedly since the last bit was an arctic scene, and the ride blasted blessedly cold air all over you. We came out and then got right back in line. I wouldn’t wait like that now.

          1. Clefairy*

            Hahaha. Technically THIS post was sponsored by the letters E & R and the number 11-1 buuuut I also have experience with 101 hahaha

      2. Anyfizz*

        So they’re first in line when the ride starts operating again. Operational issues take varying amounts of time to resolve, and a lot of people (especially those closer to the front of the line) don’t want to wait hours and hours again if it turns out the thing gets fixed in a half hour or so.

  18. Not the only year*

    One year, our contracting company arranged an annual holiday party at new Spanish restaurant. The organizer of the event is known to be mostly incompetent. Unfortunately, the restaurant clearly didn’t know that 90+ people had scheduled a party that day. All the chairs were on the tables and the few waitstaff there were looking at us with confusion and horror when we arrived. Our organizer, who is one of the least capable administrative assistants I have ever encountered, promptly took over the only private room for himself and his family (he was the only one to bring a spouse and kids), and hid out there for the rest of the event. It took over 3 hours to get food out, and to the restaurant’s credit, it was delicious. I actually had to get my meal in a takeout box because the lunch ran so long that I had to leave to pick up my kids from school.

    1. pancakes*

      It’s kind of wild that not one person out of group of 90+ had the decency to say something along the lines of, “they’re clearly not expecting us, why don’t we reschedule this for a time when we can make reservations?” Turning up at a restaurant that appears to be closing (chairs on tables!) with a group that size and demanding food reflects a pretty severe and badly misplaced sense of entitlement.

      1. BitingMyTongue*

        I can’t really comment on the logistics of rescheduling 90+ people for a holiday party, but Not the only year said that it was a lunch. Sounds like the chairs were on the table because the restaurant wasn’t quite open yet, but was presumably getting ready to open for business, since they had some staff.

        1. pancakes*

          Maybe. I suppose it’s possible someone did ask before taking over the private room, etc., too. I don’t think the difficulty of rescheduling makes it ok to demand that a restaurant that isn’t open serve 90 people, though!

      2. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

        It sounds like it was during the day (since Not the only year said they had to do school pickup) so hopefully it was that they were just opening for lunch that chairs were still up, not that the restaurant was closed/closing.

  19. Serin*

    I had a co-worker with a very colorful way of speaking. (“We’ve been doing it this way since Moby Dick was a minnow.”) For a White Elephant gift exchange, another co-worker collected up all of his sayings into a sort of Phrasebook of Co-Worker A.

    I thought there was a risk of hurting his feelings, but she said he’d love it, and he did! He took every chance the rules allowed (and a few they didn’t) to try to get that Phrasebook as his gift. In the end our boss got it and displayed it on her credenza, and he used to take visitors in to see it.

  20. Liz*

    Was invited to my bosses house for an employee holiday party. This small business was owned by a married coupled who were also landlords, so they were pretty wealthy and had a huge house. I was walking around admiring their art when I cam across a statue.
    A nude statue.
    A nude statue of my boss.

      1. Liz*

        It was small but lifelike! I think it was made when she was younger, but it wasn’t hiding anything.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      This reminds me of going to a (non-holiday, non-work) party hosted by some friends. I had never been to their apartment, but they let us all know that they had some images on the walls that weren’t pornographic, but also weren’t PG-13. My husband immediately guessed male genitalia, but I figured that couldn’t be it since they said it wasn’t pornographic. Turns out my husband was right. My favorite part was watching another person and her boyfriend go around the apartment and count how many…erm…”members” they could see.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          It was mostly photos. There were a couple of stand alone sculptures (including a glass one in the bathroom).

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I was similarly surprised (no prior warning issued in this case) by a large print of Lenny Kravitz busting his leather pants on stage. I had been under the impression (still am) that coworker whose place it was did not prefer men, so I was surprised to see a naked one on their wall, but maybe Lenny is an automatic exception.

      2. LPUK*

        It reminds me of the days I worked for a company that ran shops on board of cruise ships. One of the sales managers took me for a tour of this enormous Holland America cruise ship and when he found out I had never been on one before , he insisted on a full tour of the crew quarters as well… which is why I ended up in his own cabin, admiring the wall of photos he had that started on the left with pictures of his super- cute nephews and nieces… and ended on the right with dick pics.

        1. LemonLime*

          LOL! I feel like it was just so much work for him to be a creep. Like was this before cellphones? Because imagine how joyful he must have been when camera phones came out? “Oh good! I can skip the ‘tour-an-entire-cruise-ship-then-crew-quarters-then-family-pics-oops-is-that-a-dicpic- routine and go straight to sending unwanted dic pics! Such a time saver!”

          –Sorry for you LPUK!

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh I want to know more!
      Was the statue flattering or warts-and-all, abstract or naturalist?
      Marble, bronze, wood?
      Was there a museum-style plaque nearby?
      Did the artist sign the work?

      1. Liz*

        Warts and all but she had a pretty great figure, so there werent many warts to show.
        I believe it was bronze, and it was small, not life size.
        There was no plaque or artists signature. I remember this because I was staring at the statue, wondering why it looked familiar, when a coworker came up to me and whispered in my ear who it was.

    3. Artemesia*

      I toured what is now an art gallery essentially — the home of a now dead wealthy art collector — and there was lots of artwork by famous artists of the owner and his wife. This included a nude sculpture and also a huge portrait of the wife staring down over her bathtub. I aways wondered what kind of people would want to live with that decor.

    4. Jaune Desprez*

      I had a similar (non-holiday) experience! My manager invited her small-ish team to her apartment for a movie and snacks. She was very gracious and hospitable, but it was rather embarrassing to be confronted with the large nude painting of herself that had pride of place in her living room. It was a full length, realistic portrait of her lounging in an upholstered chair with one leg hooked over the chair arm. I was seated opposite the painting, and it was surprisingly difficult to keep my eyes on the movie and off of her painted breasts and vulva.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        That’s a hilarious thing to hear about, but so awkward and incomprehensible. How did she not think about even her friends being uncomfortable? let alone her colleagues? And who wants to stare at themselves naked in the LIVING ROOM? (or at all, but especially in the living room)

          1. allathian*

            Or simply an exhibitionist. I mean, how else would she get to parade naked in front of her employees without being instantly accused of harassment?

      2. Narise*

        Every year a college professor invited his class to his house for a Christmas Party in December. He gave them a full tour of the home and everyone tried to avoid staring at the mirror on the ceiling above the bed in the master bedroom. We were like, it’s OK to skip the master bedroom. Other than the mirror it wasn’t like there was a collection or something he was showing off. And we were all in our 20’s and he was in his 60’s.

    5. PT*

      My first apartment that I rented, when I first went to tour it, was still occupied by the previous tenants. They had a king bed in the room, and over the king bed, as large as the bed was wide, was a painting of a nude woman sprawled out a la Rose in Titanic.

      Me, my roommate, and our agent were like, uhhhh?

      I have no idea if it was a random work of art they bought or a portrait of the tenant, we never met them.

        1. SeluciaMD*

          I had no idea this existed, nor how much I needed it in my life. Christmas came early today! :)

        2. VegetarianRaccoon*

          I loved the ‘lovely listing’ blog back in the day. Apparently these people must have too! The white plastic chair was a running in-joke.

    6. Smaller potatoes*

      Holy crap, just realized that I’ve actually been that boss! My ex is an artist and our house (small house, we were not wealthy by any stretch) at one time indeed had two life size pinhole camera photos that lived in the hallway after a stint hanging in a gallery. Thank goodness I only had one employee back then, but he definitely attended a few parties over the years. I never really thought much about it at the time – the photos were art and I loved having them in the house. Whoops!!

    7. ggg*

      Oh no.
      My cousin worked for a super-rich family when I was a kid. For some reason I went to their house, and they had an oil-painted naked family portrait above their fireplace in the grand ballroom. All of the NSFW parts were discreetly concealed, but it was still super weird.
      Their kids were small when the portrait was painted but I’d be curious to know how they felt about it as they grew up.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Wait, like fig leaves and cherubs type thing? I’m picturing the massive family portrait of the Roses from Schitt’s Creek but in the buff hahahaha

        1. ggg*

          The mom had long hair covering her boobs, the kids were strategically positioned and everyone was seated such that you couldn’t really see their genitalia.

          The room was big and this portrait was definitely Rose-level massive size.

          1. Lucy Skywalker*

            “The mom had long hair covering her boobs.”
            Unless you’re Christina Aguilera, that’s something I don’t want to see. Especially with the kids being naked, too!

      2. UKDancer*

        I’d imagine they either loved it or hated it. My grandparents were naturists and used to take my father and then his brother to naturist resorts in France and other places for holidays. My father absolutely hated it and is the sort of man who won’t walk around with no t-shirt on. His brother in contrast loved it and now goes to the same type of resorts. I think it’s a bit like marmite.

        Rather amusingly when we cleared my grandfather’s house to sell it we had to dispose of a number of slide photographs my grandfather had taken of my grandmother who was a stunningly pretty woman. Some of them were rather indecent. Those ones we really destroyed thoroughly.

      3. pugsnbourbon*

        I’ve heard of nude portraits, and I’ve heard of family portraits; I’ve never heard of a nude family portrait. Until today.

  21. Friend*

    I was working for a very cool television production company that was famous for their holiday ragers. They hung Christmas trees upside down from the ceiling, had a 8-ish piece brass band perform for all the drunk people to dance to, and turned one of the edit suites into a hot box room (*before weed was legal*) with a bowl of marijuana and a big bowl of Doritos. It was frankly an awesome party to get crazy at because everyone got a free taxi ride home. The moment I realized it was time to leave was when I saw a woman in one of the edit suites, take her shirt off (no bra underneath) and whip it around her head while dancing. I was like hmmm I do have to come back here Monday…. Let’s go.

    1. holiday survivor*

      As a low-level socialite in grunge-era Seattle, I learned to leave the parties when clothes came off and/or cameras came out.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I cannot adequately express how grateful I am that camera phones and social media were not a thing when I was in my early 20s.

          1. Sabrena*

            There might be a crude cassette tape recording of something similar to “have you ever” game that I am sure would turn up if I ran for president.

  22. Shells*

    Many many years ago I worked in hotel catering sales for a large hotel and conference center adjacent to a big city. We threw a holiday open house for our corporate clients-basically a holiday party with food, decor, and drinks, all to showcase what we could do for them for their corporate holiday parties. The boss in charge organized a “santa” as a fun extra touch. Santa also was an accomplished balloon animal creator and brought his equipment to do so. Santa promptly got drunk on the free drinks and without being asked to, began making balloon phalluses (phalli?) for our corporate clients. This was, of course, not the professional showcase we were after, and drunk santa was removed from the open house post haste. Nevertheless, I am sure it was as memorable for the corporate clients as it was for me, a young impressionable sales associate in one of her first professional jobs 20 years ago.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      It’s second declension (or o-declension), so phalli is correct linguistically.

  23. YL*

    For the 2020 holidays, my employer decided to get everyone e-gift cards in lieu of physical gifts. All sounds good. They have a list of retailers and each employee selected their preferred retailer. Gift cards were to be emailed the week before Christmas. Dec 24 rolls around and it’s also my last day. I spent some of it messaging HR to make sure it wasn’t “lost.”

    I felt guilty and greedy doing it, but my employer considered this gift card as compensation and would taxes would be taken out of my paycheck for it. I figured it was less of a hassle to ask “where’s my gift card?” now than to email them after I severed ties and ask about the gift and taxes. Also, on an employee’s last day, our email accounts actually get deactivated 2-3 hours before our last working day ends. I didn’t want to risk the gift card being emailed after my account was deactivated.

    It turns out HR had tried to buy the $250 e-gift cards individually. For 75+ people. Over a few days time. Of course, the corporate credit card ending up getting frozen for suspected fraud. I don’t know why they didn’t just contact the retailers for bulk buying options.

  24. Female Presenting Person*

    This is mild. At our (small) company party, we were served alcoholic drinks if we wanted them; generally, people only had one because we all had to drive home after the lunch. Two female employees from faith traditions that discourage alcohol use drank their cocktails and felt very daring. They became very animated. The boss organized a constant flow of drinks for them, only, after the first ones, they contained zero alcohol. We were all very amused to watch these two women with little alcohol experience get very, very, very “drunk” on absolutely nothing but their imaginations. I’m pretty sure neither of them know they were entertaining the far end of the table.

      1. Beth*

        Yeah, I’m cringing at this. It crosses so many lines: don’t pull ugly practical jokes in a work environment, don’t lie to people about what they’re eating or drinking, don’t pull ugly stuff on people because of their religion, don’t set up co-workers for public mockery . . .

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          All of this.

          And isn’t there a film where someone does this, and few weeks later the person thinks “hey I can handle a few drinks” and puts themselves in hospital?

      2. Me*

        It sounds cruel because it is.

        I’m not sure how someone becomes a grown adult and thinks making fun of other people is an amusing past time.

      3. UKDancer*

        Yeah that’s not a nice thing to do. You shouldn’t use your colleagues for your amusement like that.

    1. JB*

      Hm. As a rule, I generally try not to deceive people about what is or is not in their food or drink.

      How did they feel when they found out they’d been treated as public laughingstocks all night due to their unfamiliarity with alcohol? (Someone did tell them, right? You didn’t just let them go out into the world thinking they could actually handle that many drinks, surely.)

      1. Aarti*

        I would be moritfied at this “neither of them know they were entertaining the far end of the table” – thanks for making me the laughingstock of, like, everyone.

    2. Xenia*

      I can’t tell from this if your boss was like “haha, it’ll be funny to watch them to get drunk off nothing” or more along the lines of “they’re ordering a lot of drinks–I’m going to intervene for the sake of their livers”.

    3. Siege*

      I don’t think that’s really mild, honestly. I can sort of see the drinks as a prank, but the entertainment component makes it mean-spirited, at least on the part of the boss.

    4. allathian*

      Nope, not funny. I feel mortified for the young women.

      I had something similar happen to me, but it was with friends whose company I enjoyed rather than at work. When I was in high school, and especially after I hit 18 (legal drinking age), I spent most of my time with two different friend groups that didn’t overlap. One of them consisted of girls who were a year or two younger than I am, and we were the unpopular bookish girls who found each other thanks to our mutual interest in books and in feeling excluded from our school peer groups, and a total lack of interest in consuming alcohol while underage. The other group were my age, or slightly older, who I started to hang out with when I started going to bars. Most of them also went to the same college as I did, so we continued to hang out, although there we also found other friends… Anyway, when I was 19 or 20, I’d probably bored the bookish group to tears with my stories about the parties I’d gone to, so they played a prank on me. At one of our parties, a friend brought a few bottles of wine, which was the first time that happened. So we drank a glass or two, and I got a bit cheerful. Then the friend showed me the label, and it was non-alcoholic wine. I’ve never sobered up so quickly before or since! We had a good laugh about it, because there was nothing malicious in their behavior. But after that I didn’t talk about the parties I went to unless one of my bookish friends asked. It was a really interesting psychological test, I can confirm that the placebo effect is real.

  25. Merry F***ing Christmas*

    A few years ago I was talking to my mom about an AAM post on the topic of partners behaving badly at work parties. She told me about a time that she brought my dad to a work Christmas party when they were living in London in the 80s, and he got into a conversation with a group of her coworkers that ended with him telling them all to f**k off. I, devout 22-year old AAM reader, nodded sagely and was about to launch into an Alison-inspired your-partner-is-your-responsibility speech… when she ended by saying “to be fair, it was only because they were defending Apartheid”. Doesn’t make it appropriate, but definitely justified in my opinion!

        1. Merry F***ing Christmas*

          Oh wow, thanks you guys (and Teekanne aus Schokolade)! I definitely over-thought how to write it out so I feel very validated :)

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      I wish this website had an award system, this was a damn snappy story that I love from start to finish.

  26. Getting Smashed*

    Years ago my office holiday party was held in one of the company buildings, which had a single person restroom. Everyone had a good time and the drinks were aplenty, but no shenanigans (or so we thought). The next day, one of employees sent out a photo he took at the end of the night of the bathroom sink completely torn off the wall and smashed on the ground. Nobody fessed up, but at the time I had access to the security footage so the IT guy and I checked it out. We saw our HR manager go into the (remember, single person) bathroom with their partner and then both snuck out several minutes later. The next person to go in was the one who sent out the photo. I don’t know what was going on in there, but hopefully it was worth it!

    1. Coffee Bean*

      That happened in a Schitt’s Creek episode. Not HR people. But two of the characters broke the sink while doing the nasty.

    2. Murphy*

      This happened at the company party of my husband’s previous employers. Broken sink resulting from the same adult activities.

  27. Nope nope nope*

    In the before times (pre-covid), my company would have a nice holiday party at a local banquet hall complete with coworkers getting trashed at the open bar. What I wasn’t prepared for when I joined was the holiday sing-along: the 12 Days of Christmas. After the main dinner course, every table would start drawing numbers out of a hat until all 12 days of Christmas were accounted for. Then each table would stand up, act out, and sing their picked number(s) (i.e. for partridge in a pear tree, the people at that table would flap their arms like birds and someone would try to stand like a tree). You could always tell who were the exec that actually enjoyed the sing-along as they would be actively singing and acting while the rest of us mumble and fidget awkwardly.

    1. Anon for this*

      HOLY CRAP YOU TOO??? Our holiday party does not feature an open bar, so I’m reasonably certain we are not coworkers, but my company also sings 12 Days by table (thankfully without the miming, although definitely being made to redo your round if judged to be insufficiently enthusiastic). Nevermind that there are a number of people who do not celebrate Christmas…but they’re all at levels with the least influence, so apparently they just go along. Between our last beforetimes holiday party and now there have been some big changes in the company and I’m deeply hoping this is another thing that goes bye-bye.

    2. Hmm...*

      So… did the partridges have to flap for all 12 while the drummers only had to drum once, or did they only perform on their actual day?

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        my post crossed with yours – in our cases the partridges would have been on the hook twelve times, gold rings eight times, maids five times, and so on

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      My college did this, but with numbered tables at the Christmas dinner. It was self-seating and every year there was a rush for table five.

      Those who enjoy singing less either didn’t go, or carefully sat at the highest-numbered tables.

      Thanks for the memory – I hadn’t thought about that in ages and now have the college song stuck in my head.

          1. SeluciaMD*

            Truly the only credible response. Muppet solidarity!

            But seriously – my all-time favorite Christmas record is John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together. I have it on LP, cassette, CD and on Spotify. It’s a freaking treasure. It is not Christmas if I can’t hear Rolf & JD sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

          2. Tierrainney*

            oh yes! I have the Muppets Christmas album with John Denver. Miss Piggy really milks that one.

      1. Goo-ooooo-ldy locks*

        I think we went to the same college as that what I thought of instantly. You had to be on the right side of the table though.

    4. Lucy Skywalker*

      My office did the 12 Days of Christmas, too, but the 12 people who sang it had volunteered. It was part of a Christmas talent show where people could show off their ability to sing, write parodies, and in one case, teach us how to make decorations. It was fun, and no one was pressured to perform if they don’t want to. Personally, I love to perform and be in the spotlight (I was a theater kid in high school) so I was grateful for the opportunity to do so. I believe I sang a parody about then-President Bush to the tune of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It was the start of a new holiday tradition where I wrote a parody about the events of the year, usually (but not always) to the tune of Christmas carols.
      I don’t work at that office anymore, but to this day, I still write the annual parody and sing it for my family on Christmas.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I may have written one a few years ago about our then prime minister Theresa May, and if someone were to ask me now the lyrics to 12 Days of Christmas, the first thing that would pop into my head would be something like “5 U turns”.

  28. meagain*

    One year our (billion dollar) company had holiday cards printed up – all the departments got an allotted amount and we all signed them to send out out to our clients, constituents, aka all the important people, etc. Well this year the cards had clearly been printed “inside out.” The metallic paper side was the inside of the card and the blank white cardboard paper side was the outside of the card… with an emblem cut out for our logo. It looked absolutely ridiculous. The inside of the card had a printed message that wasn’t centered. We contacted anyone we could think of internally to say that the cards were wrong and they they were too embarrassing to send out like this. But for some reason, anyone with authority doubled down and insisted the cards were supposed to be like this and were correct. NO ONE would admit that these were very obviously printed on the wrong side. So…. that’s what we had to send. If I had been a manager back then, I would have tossed them and just bought our own out of pocket. But, our boss also insisted that he was told they were correct…. so my coworkers signed their names in huge block letters to be obnoxious and I wrote mine as small and indecipherable as possible… and that’s how they went out. To some really “important” industry people! Insane. I kept one for posterity and I still have it!

    1. Aha*

      I actually believe that it was meant to be that way. It sounds like a design that looks minimalist-cool in someone’s head, but ends up looking dopey in reality.

    2. JSPA*

      White-on-outside, foil-on-inside cards with the foil showing through a cut-out were very much a thing, though.

      The message has to be offset from the hole, too–or the hole offset from the message, if you prefer–unless you managed to place the message so artfully that a key word or syllable showed through.

      I don’t have strong opinions on cards, but one of my parents favored this flavor of card as broadly “holiday” friendly.

      You either write on the front, the back, or write on the foil in sharpie.

      1. meagain*

        I don’t know…. I still have this thing from 2006 and just looked at it and it’s REALLY bad! The front of the card has a hole cut out in the outline of the logo… then the inside is the actual logo printed on the metallic inside… except the logo on the inside is about 2 inches below where the cut out hole is… so it’s not like it is showing through… it looks like it was “attempting” to but didn’t quite line up… and then the holiday message is actually printed over the logo… and the message is not centered on the page or on the logo either…

        Multiple people did tell us that it was printed correctly, but I swear if you look at this thing, it looks like a huge mistake/fail. I was so mortified to put my name on it that I wrote it illegibly! The guys I worked with found the whole thing funny and wrote their names in big obnoxious block letters. I’m sure our recipients were delighted by such a classy holiday greeting!

        The other funny thing was that my boss got a holiday card from a “very prominent person” – but it was addressed to something like “Ms. Jen Walsh” when boss’ name was “Mr. Jim Welsh” (not that, but along those lines) and we were all making fun of this and he was trying to insist that the sender “really did know me” and “his secretary must have sent it.” Lol.

        1. Gumby*

          I assume most very prominent people don’t actually hand write their own cards except to their nearest and dearest. VPP don’t enter most of their own contact information into whatever personal-CRM solution they use either. So I think it is entirely plausible that “Jim” does know VPP and was just entered into the system incorrectly. They probably aren’t BFFs, but I’d buy anything up to and including regular golf buddies or old college roommates.

          I mean, I have gotten AC repair bills and a job offer in Australia (legit, like, “we enjoyed interviewing you and as discussed in our phone call, here is the offer information” type thing) sent to my email. Presumably the people who entered that info cared a fair amount about accuracy yet they still ended up with a typo. So I don’t think a name being mistyped into some VPP’s personal contact list that big of a stretch.

          1. meagain*

            Oh I don’t think they were personal friends, but for whatever reason through his job he ended up on a spreadsheet for the annual holiday card. I’m sure it was mistyped. It was just really funny to us because he was so proud of getting this card. (If a holiday card had come to anyone else with a name slightly off like that, no one would have blinked… but for this guy it was fitting and funny. Like sure Jen! (Think Mr. Michael Scott on the Office and realizing his big deal holiday card from most impressive person was addressed to Ms. Michele Cott or something) Made the rest of us laugh.

  29. ThatGirl*

    I used to work at a well-known baking and decorating supply company. I spent two years in a hybrid customer service-related role, and had to pitch in to answer the phones and emails, especially around Christmas, which is an insanely busy time of year for them.

    One of their big holiday products is gingerbread houses and cookie decorating kits. I gotta tell you, we got told we ruined SO MANY Christmases because their house broke or a decoration was missing due to a mispacking. “My kid cried!” well probably because you were overdramatic about it?

    But my favorite story was the woman who called because her 3 year old grandson had put a large nonpareil up his nose and she had to take him to the ER to get it out. SHE left him alone with a bunch of small candy, and the kits are not activities children can do on their own, especially not small ones. But she wanted to complain because she thought there should be a warning on the box. OK, lady.

            1. The Smiling Pug*

              Oh good! And I don’t work in a baking and decorating supply place, but I answer phones for the majority of my hours…And it’s mind-boggling the weird assumptions people make simply because something wasn’t spelled out.

              1. SeluciaMD*

                Any time I see a bizarre warning on a toy or even like a box that says something like “Plastic wrapping is not intended for entertainment purposes. Do not give to small children or pets who may suffocate if enclosed in the plastic” I scoff and then remind myself that warning is likely there because more than one person wasn’t smart enough to figure that out on their own and somebody got hurt, somebody got sued or both.

    1. awesome3*

      This really explains a lot of warning labels that make you think, really? There needs to be a warning about this?

      1. Retired Prof*

        We got a plastic canteen for water at a military surplus store. It says DO NOT USE OVER OPEN FLAME on the side. I sincerely hope that soldiers are not inclined to putting a plastic bottle over a fire.

        1. thatjillgirl*

          I mean, considering that some soldiers are literal teenagers, it does sound like a thing that could happen.

    2. Fresh Cut Grass*

      I used to work at the corporate office of a shoe company, and part of my job was responding to reviews. (Thankfully, it was the only part of my job that involved customers in any way.)

      I was pretty stumped on how to reply to the guy who wrote a furious review about how we had ruined Christmas, because a store had closed half an hour early. On Christmas Eve. In a place where it was snowing.

      I’m not sure what I wound up saying, but I really just wanted to write back with a link to watch any adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        Crazy shoppers get so entitled around the holidays because they forgot to buy one gift and they expect stores to do some crazy stuff in order to get that one item. Doesn’t work that way folks…

      1. ThatGirl*

        I can understand her panicking; honestly, a squirt bottle of warm water wouldn’t have occurred to me either. It was more that she blamed US even though it was clearly not a toy or something you should leave a small child alone with.

    3. anonymous73*

      Makes me think of the post going around on social media right now from a woman who complained that Marie Callender’s ruined her Thanksgiving because she burned her pumpkin pie beyond recognition. The comments are hilarious.

  30. irene adler*

    When we switched from a real Christmas tree to a fake tree for our company break room, many commented that they missed that “Christmas tree” smell.

    So I went out and purchased those little tree-shaped air fresheners one puts in the car.

    And I proceeded to hang them all over the tree.

    Soon the break room was inaccessible. Damn near gassed everyone out of the building those fresheners were so potent!

    1. Wendy*

      My first year of college, I put up a foot-tall dollar store tree and a tree-shaped air freshener. It was NOT the same.

  31. Cousin Igorina*

    Job before last, my very shy, reserved coworker had a biiiiiiiiit too much to drink and went around the room demanding that people show her pictures of their pets. (This included the CEO, but fortunately he thought it was hilarious.) It culminated with Drunk Coworker bursting into tears when she was told one of our other coworkers didn’t have any pets, and saying, “You’re so nice, you deserve to have a dog.”

    (She was mortified when we came back to work, so we didn’t tease her about it… much.)

    1. Calamity Janine*

      oh god, i think this story is actually divination. i have read this and now know with the grim inevitability of fate that if i get drunk at an office party, this WILL now be what i do. it has been set into my mind. the die is cast. the world has spoken it into existence.

      …well, there are worse sorts of drunks to be, really

    2. WFH with Cat*

      Awwww … telling someone “You’re so nice, you deserve to have a dog” is kinda sweet, especially from a shy, reserved coworker. I hope she has learned to look back fondly on that party and not feel mortified!

    3. Serin*

      It’s adorable when someone’s inhibitions are lowered and you find out that their secret desire was to see everybody’s pet.

  32. fiona the baby hippo*

    I worked at a hip media company in my last job and our holiday party consisted of a so-so dinner with bottomless wine and a one-man show by an employee’s friend that was tenuously tied back to our company mission. The one-man show was AWFUL, we all were getting SO DRUNK, then the founder extended the open bar and bought us all shots. That’s when my memory gets very patchy, but thank GOD a coworker (who later became a very good friend) got me an Uber and sent me home. I was in 2-inch block heels and managed to wipe out on the sidewalk getting out of the Uber at my apartment. I woke up with a horrible scratch all over my face and a truly acidic hangover. I just… didn’t go to work the next day. Which would have been a bad look, except the founder then decided to give everyone a rousing speech at lunchtime that if we didn’t get our numbers up, we’d lay off 10% of the company at some point in the new year. Then he went into his office (which had glass walls we could all see into) and fell asleep for the afternoon. His behavior was so out there that everyone immediately forgot I’d stayed home with a hangover. I’m good enough at makeup that I was able to cover the scrapes over the next few days and quit that job to freelance a few months later.

  33. Shannie Claws*

    The Time the Office Pooper Struck Right Before the Holiday Party

    …was probably the funniest (and grossest, and strangest) tale from my last company.

    In short, we had someone(s) who were clearly aggrieved for some reason and taking it out on the office bathrooms. This was no case of poorly-handled IBS; no, this person was carefully placing logs of feces on the toilet seat and also smearing it on walls, the floor, etc. This went on for weeks until cameras were placed outside the restroom hallways. Right before the cameras arrived, our office holiday party was held on premises. Just as the party was getting underway, a few of the VPs were seen hurriedly looking for buckets and cleaning products, and the news circulated throughout the party that the Pooper had indeed gifted us with another incident. A normally boring event was suddenly filled with stories of Poop Gone Wrong at various workplaces throughout the land. Apparently, this is a…normal occurrence?

    No one ever confessed or was found out to be the Pooper, but I’ll never forget that party.

    1. CarCarJabar*

      I cannot begin to understand how angry one must be to handle their own shit like this… Like, that’s torturing yourself in order to torture others.

      1. Lucy Skywalker*

        Kind of like the people who know that the COVID vaccine is effective, but refuse to get it because they’d rather die of COVID than comply with President Biden.
        I can’t even imagine being so petty and vindictive that you value “sticking it to Biden” over your own freaking life!

    2. anonymous73*

      I was working from home one day and received a text from a co-worker that someone had dropped a turd in the middle of the ladies room floor. This was no accident, it was clearly intentional. Apparently it’s a thing.

  34. Elle*

    For the holidays an old boss would give a single mini candy cane to each employee. That was the sum total of our holiday celebrations. For Easter it was a single jelly bean, left on our desk for us to find in the morning.

    1. Butterfly Counter*

      For some reason, this story is the one that has made me laugh the hardest.

      One jelly bean.

      One. Jelly bean.

      Just one. *crying laughing*

      I have so many questions. My sides hurt.

      1. Elle*

        Yup, an unwrapped single Brachs jelly bean, sitting overnight on our desks. She kept all the black ones for herself. And she was so excited to hear how much we enjoyed the jelly bean the next morning! It was a very odd place to work.

        1. Aarti*

          Oh god. My boss’s husband, who already is way too involved in our lives, brought us each homebaked cookies. I thanked her very profusely and as soon as she went away, threw it in the trash. It’s Covid time bitches! I don’t like to eat food directly from people’s kitchens at the best of times, no way I would eat it right now.
          But an unwrapped jelly bean is kind of hilarious. I might have tried to make a rubber band cannon with it.

        2. Martin Blackwood*

          Somehow, the knowledge that black jelly beans are her favorite adds so much to this story, I’m dying

          1. SeluciaMD*

            Right?!? I read that and thought, “yep, that tracks.”

            That being said, I am completely bumfuzzled that she thought anyone would appreciate ONE JELLY BEAN. Just one. Left out overnight so to ensure it would be so hard as to be inedible.

      1. Enough*

        At Easter time I buy whole bags of just the black ones. They are my husband’s and daughter’s favorite.

        1. Wendy*

          My sister – a middle child and still a natural diplomat – taught herself to like black jellybeans so she could trade 2-for-1 with me and my brother at Easter time. I mean, sure, she’d have only black jellybeans afterward, but she’d get twice as many! :-D

      1. Elle*

        Now I’m remembering all the other odd things she would do. She once brought two Costco size containers of Cetaphil face cleanser and put them in the conference room in case anyone needed it. And the time she needed to order some sandwiches for a lunch meeting. Instead of ordering the sandwiches from a deli she spent the day walking into restaurants asking for sandwich donations for this random meeting.

        1. Usagi*

          Was… was there a sink in the conference room? Or were you supposed to grab it and go to the bathroom? Is your line of work something that would make your face dirty, but also customer facing? Or maybe you live somewhere hot and humid so your faces get oily? I mean since I’m wearing a mask all day every day I guess I wouldn’t mind washing my face during the day?


          1. Elle*

            It was a largely office based job. I don’t have an answer for why, but she had issues purchasing things and understanding quantities. Another example would be ordering two thousand shirts for a fundraiser where only 70 people had signed up. Because you never know. It was a small, family run non profit with all the baggage that comes with that. I learned a lot from all the craziness.

  35. Mayor of Llamatown*

    I worked for a medium-size corporation that had a bit of checkered past: one of the past owners had run a Ponzi scheme that made national news, the company was bought out/re-formed after that. Despite it being decades ago, many people were still very, very sensitive about it and it was still very fresh in local memory. When it came to holiday parties, they felt it was really, really necessary to have entertainment for the holiday party, but were tired of just having a DJ/music and thus tried all sorts of different things, including magicians (which was actually a hit) and comedians. People were provided two drink tickets but there was a cash bar so many, many people got not just tipsy but absolutely wasted.

    One year they hired a comedian, who immediately started his set out with a joke about the Ponzi Scheme. The entire place gasped and went quiet. The comedian clearly knew he had stuck his foot in it and desperately tried to re-adjust but his ten-minute set was just total silence, no response from the audience. At one point, one of the managers drunkenly stage-whispered/laughed to her date, “HE’S TOTALLY BOMBING.” He hadn’t even left the room after his set before people were loudly lambasting him to the rest of their table.

    I’ve never been so uncomfortable in my life.

      1. Mayor of Llamatown*

        From what I remember, the guy wasn’t from this area, and so wouldn’t have known that this corporation with a very strong local presence is still very sensitive about this situation that happened a long long time (and several mergers) ago.

        Even being charitable though, I don’t know what he reaction he was expecting when that’s basically his first bit. It made for a lot of water cooler talk, at least!

    1. Soup of the Day*

      Oh my gosh, I ALSO had a cringey comedian-at-the-holiday-party experience! Right out of college I was working at a totally sketchy company that managed a large amount of equally sketchy websites (basically just a way to make as much ad revenue as possible.) The male CEO had hired exclusively young, freshly-graduated women to do the grunt work, while the only other higher-up was his other male buddy. The optics were not good.

      This company was dysfunctional AF and the comedian clearly picked up on it, because he proceeded to roast our CEO for his hiring practices and the quality of our websites. I was DYING trying not to laugh, but everyone was dead silent for fear of provoking the CEO’s ire and clearly many of my fellow co-workers were genuinely unimpressed. (There was also no alcohol at this party! My work bestie and I had chugged bourbon in her car in the parking lot though, so we were having a REALLY hard time holding back our laughter.)

      I quit not long after and never looked back, but some of those women are still there years and years later.

  36. Fabulous*

    I was a temporary worker at an office, filling in for an integral staff member (read: department of one) on an extended medical leave. I had been there about 8 months by the time Christmas had rolled around and established myself in the workplace, led trainings, and basically was the go-to person in charge of everything for that department.

    So that year, instead of having a holiday party, HR had decided to give all staff members a $50+ gift card and take everyone on a field trip downtown for an afternoon office shopping spree! Sounds great, right??

    Less than **2 hours** before said field trip, they sit me down and say because I’m only a temp worker, I can’t join them due to liability issues. Which, I understand, but a little more notice would have been nice so I didn’t get excited about the afternoon off. Oh, and she almost forgot – I also don’t get a gift card either.

    So long story short, I got stuck in the office with no recompense while literally everyone else bolted for the rest of the day… :(

    1. Rey*

      This is total garbage, which any normal person would know! When this happened with my part-time employees (our budget was based on $X per full-time employees, but we have three part-time employees and don’t receive any budget), I just tell the department heads and they chip in to make up the difference for the part-time employees. Saying it’s due to “liability” is complete and utter baloney.

    2. Anna Admin*

      I think my company must have gotten in some hot water in the past about how they were handling contract workers/temps because by the time I was hired as one they were VERY clear about all the perks I would not and could not get! It sucks they gave you no notice, but it’s a real thing at least where I live in the US. Saying it’s a liability issue is weird, it’s more like a labor law – if they treat you like all the other employees they need to offer you all their benefits etc. etc. My first year here I had to plan a Holiday Party that I could not attend because I was a contract worker.

    3. __ID__*

      I feel your pain! I was a temp many moons ago, and I was invited to the Christmas party at a company of less than 10 people. The invitation came from the “head of HR“/office manager. Then a week later I was “uninvited”because I was only a temp.

      I was younger and much more sensitive so I cried actual tears over this! I still think it wouldn’t have killed them to lay out for one more dinner for me.

      Here’s where it gets funny though. The company was a very small engineering firm and they had just hired a new guy. I thought he was a little socially inept, but he sort of fit the culture, if you know what I mean.

      Fast forward to the Christmas party with the unfortunate secret Santa gift exchange. The new guy buys a gag gift for one of the few women in the company and it turns out to be…Nipple Warmers. His explanation after she opened the gift was “ well I don’t know you very well and the only time I met you I noticed that it was cold in the office.”

      This was in 1990, and today he would probably be purple walked out the door. I’m only sorry that I can’t even tell the story in my current office or any office I ever working again!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Now I’m picturing the perp walk but with the employee, carrying his box of stuff, being led out of the building with a purple drape over his head.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Hazel I am so glad I decided to have water instead of wine, because when I read your question, I cracked up laughing. And now have some cleanup to do.

    4. Rob aka Mediancat*

      My company did something similar at a company picnic: all attendees were eligible for randomly drawn prizes, and one of our contractors won a Kindle. A few days later, the picnic organizing group (which I was on) was told that the winner, as a contractor, had been ineligible and we were going to have to take the Kindle back. Some of us flatly refused to write the letter, on the grounds that this maybe should have been something they should have handled ahead of time, but unfortunately for the contractor, someone DID write to him because he’d turned it back in by the next meeting.

  37. Elevator Bystander*

    I’ve probably told this story here before but I still get awkward shivers when I think about it now, almost 10 years later.

    One year the office holiday part coincided with a visit from the company’s CEO (we were a satellite office), so the party planning committee had the brilliant idea to bring our ~40 person group to the bar on the top level of the Hancock Building in Chicago. Nice and fancy in theory, but the drinks there are so expensive that we were only budgeted for one each, and it’s really not a very big bar so it was very awkward fitting us all together. Things got worse when the CEO decided to make everybody go around and share what they hoped to see for the future of the company (so festive!). Suffice it to say the vibe was already very weird by the time we were ready to leave. I ended up taking the elevator down 95 floors in the same group as the CEO, who had been chatting with one of my office’s sales reps, and for some reason he pointed his finger at her while talking and, to the horror of the rest of us crammed in with them like sardines, she leaned forward and took his whole finger into her mouth. I have no idea why (not alcohol; we’d all just had the one weak cocktail apiece) but the stunned silence and awkward glances lasted for the rest of the ride.

    1. SarahKay*

      I got to your second-to-last sentence and just did a whole-body cringe away from the screen. That’s just…so awful. I keep re-reading it in horror; at this point my palms are sweating in second-hand embarrassment.

      1. Pikachu*

        I’m scrolling upwards and skimming through comments. Your reply made me stop in my tracks to read this story.

    2. not a doctor*

      Either you have posted this before, or there are TWO stories that include the sentence “she leaned forward and took his whole finger into her mouth” (or probably some variation of it), and I hope to God it’s not the latter. That mental image was absolutely seared into my memory.

      It’s sufficiently messed up that new people should definitely see it, though. It really should be a meme.

    3. Talley Lach*

      I kind of sympathize with her! Why is he pointing his finger in her face in a crowded elevator?? After a terrible party only makes it worse!

    4. Calamity Janine*

      i am filled with equal parts horror and admiration for that move. on one hand, oh my god no. on the other hand… now THAT’S how you ESTABLISH DOMINANCE.

      on the third hand, ew clobbered on finger,

    5. Robin Ellacott*

      My uncle’s (dad’s brother) ex-wife did that when she was dating my uncle and first met his family. My dad was talking and pointing and she leaned forward and sucked his finger. 40 years later and he still tells the story with a horrified expression.

      Doing it at work is a whole other level!

  38. SarahKay*

    Back when I worked in a department store our Christmas party was held in the staff canteen. There was food, there were drinks (including a certain amount of alcohol), there was music and, being a department store in the nineties, there was a high ratio of women to men. It was all fine, and fairly low-key, until the Store Manager and his (fairly young, male) deputy started to do their bit to entertain us, with their version of Right Said Fred’s “I’m too Sexy”. This would have been about 5 years after the original song came out, but it was pretty memorable so we were all familiar with it. They’d been down to the sports department and got themselves white swimsuit caps which they used to simulate the bald (shaved?) heads of Right Said Fred. Music started up, they started singing the song which was pretty funny with the swimming caps they were wearing.
    We got to the “I’m too sexy for my shirt” line, and they both stripped off their shirts; well, okay, they’re good sports; it’s all pretty harmless; lots of clapping from everyone.
    And then the song and the deputy manager kept going, and he pulled down his trousers.
    Most of the staff cheered, and sort of surged forwards towards our now-boxer-shorted deputy site manager. A much younger me was absolutely mortified by the whole thing so I moved backwards as the rest moved forwards, meaning I didn’t see quite how it ended but I understand the Store Manager pulled his deputy off to one side and stopped the music before the deputy could consider also removing his boxer shorts.
    Next year alcoholic drinks were limited to one glass of bubbly per person.

    1. Lucy Skywalker*

      Did anyone press sexual harassment charges? Because if that’s not creating an uncomfortable work environment, I don’t know what is.

      1. SarahKay*

        This was 20+ years ago, so a very different environment meant I don’t think anyone even considered it. And while obviously I can’t be 100% sure, I never saw or heard any sort of rumour about him being a creep usually; I think it was just a little too much booze and getting carried away in the moment.
        Also, while I was embarrassed, I was very much in the minority; the wider sentiment was definitely… raucous.

  39. CatPerson*

    It was my first holiday team lunch hosted by my boss at her executive club’s restaurant, after 6 months in my first professional job. The salad course had a large cherry tomato, which I carefully started to pierce with my fork so that I could slice it into halves before eating it. The tomato skin was very thick, and the tines of the heavy fork were not very sharp. The tomato exploded–all over my boss. On her jacket, white blouse, she even had tomato seeds in her hair.

    I was mortified, but boss was very gracious about it and laughed it off. When the server came to remove the salad plates, I noticed that the plates were all empty except for a tomato gracing each one.

    1. Night Vale Seems Good By Comparison*

      OMG, literally laughed out loud. And such a restaurant thing to do. Why make salads with entire hunks of produce? If I have to cut up my salad I might as well make it myself! Glad your boss was understanding.

    2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Actual proof that food industry’s commitment to year-round tomatoes is a hazard! Introduce an out-of-season tomato in the first act, and it’s bound to go off by the third.

    3. Lucy Skywalker*

      A co-worker actually did the very same thing to me once! It wasn’t a holiday party, just a regular lunch.
      Thank goodness my shirt was white so I was able to remove the stain with bleach.

  40. I'll get motivated.... tomorrow*

    So this happened 20 years ago, when things were a bit rougher and Europeans generally thought of themselves as less ‘sensitive’ than Americans.
    I am a motivational speaker and at the time I was exclusively represented by a major UK-based international speaker bureau. I was invited to their Christmas party and decided to go. There were roughly half a dozen speakers there and about a dozen of the speaker bureau sales staff, plus the upper management. It was a sit-down dinner in a private room of a very nice restaurant.
    One of the other speakers got very drunk, very quickly. He embarked on a rambling story about how he had done some work for an American client and had told a joke in the course of his workshop and they has been incredibly offended and had never invited him back. So we settled in to listen to this, assuming we would get a light-hearted story poking gentle fun at prudish Americans.
    He proceeded to tell us the joke, in all its longwinded detail. It involved a proctologist, a dozen long-stemmed roses, the roses in an entirely inappropriate place, and underlying it all some crude anti-gay sentiments. It was received by the rest of us in stunned silence.
    Everyone knew exactly why he had been ‘fired’ by the client. He was too drunk to notice the look of horror on the faces of the speaker bureau staff. They hurriedly changed the subject and moved on.
    But I have no doubt that he went straight onto the bureau’s black list and they never worked with him again. And I definitely know that they never invited speakers to their office Christmas party again!

  41. Burr... it's cold in here*</