the adult bibs, the talking shrimp, and other unusual office traditions

One of the most interesting things about offices is how they develop their own subcultures, rituals, and traditions. I recently asked about unusual office traditions you’ve seen or experienced, and here are some of my favorites you shared.

 My office has a “talking shrimp” that we use instead of a “talking stick” in brainstorming meetings where we otherwise run the risk of all talking over each other. It’s a foam replica of a cooked jumbo shrimp — headless and legless but we’ve added googly eyes. The tradition has evolved to the point that now in virtual meetings people will sometimes put a shrimp emoji in the chat when they want to talk and the meeting leader will recognize them saying “you have the shrimp.”

 All of our baby showers are veggie themed. It started several years ago when the pregnant person and the office clown were talking about gift baskets. Clown said, “Wouldn’t an onion basket make a nice gift!” It went from there. I started a week before the shower, which did in fact feature a basket full of every kind of onion known to man. Showers since then have included sprouts, potatoes, and turnips; the most recent one was asparagus.

 My first day at one of my first jobs out of college I was given a $30 gift certificate to a local yarn store and was given instructions to go find yarn that “felt right to me,” buy $30 worth of it, and bring it in the next Monday. There were a couple of suggested weights and the firm instruction that I not purchase acrylic, and while it was extremely weird to me, I did as I was directed and showed up for work with a couple of skeins.

Turns out we had a woman who’d worked there longer than God and who crocheted in all her meetings to help her focus. She’d make granny squares out of every new hire’s yarn and they’d be added to the office afghan blanket – by the time I started working there she’d been at it for years and there were multiple blankets floating around the office. Anyone could check out a blanket, but only for a day at a time because they were extremely in demand. The director had started the whole thing years and years ago when he’d noticed her crocheting, was fascinated, and asked if she’d mind taking on a special project. She said okay, but she wasn’t providing the yarn, he said that’s fine, and had it written into the budget.

She retired when I’d been there for five years, but by that point she’d trained a successor and the tradition was still alive when I left a couple of years after her.

 In my department, we celebrate a wide variety of made up holidays. For example, a policy such as Policy 9.13 Nepotism would be celebrated on September 13 with your relatives’ favorite treats. There are also a variety of other holidays, such as Toast Day and Fa-La-La-Latte Day.

 We have a “Wall of Same.” If two or more coworkers happen to come into the office dressed very similarly, they’ll ask someone to take a picture and add it to the board. It’s fun to notice with someone “Hey we’re wearing almost the same thing! Let’s take a picture.” One day, a few years ago, there were about 6 of us who happened to wear something burgundy on the same day — a sweater, blazer, pants, or skirt. I’ve moved on from that office but I still have that picture!

 At a software development firm, we had the Build Breaker Trophy. It was a spectacularly ugly statue of a merman riding a seahorse, which somebody had fished out of the office dumpster. If you broke the build (translation: messed up the shared project code so that it blocked everybody else’s work) then you got presented with the Build Breaker Trophy, and had to display it on your desk until you could pass it on to somebody else.

 We have a periodic International Snack Battle, where people bring food in a given theme from a place they have lived or a culture they like (including here). It’s done during an extra long tea break. Themes have included milk, dessert, (non-alcoholic) drinks, pineapple, lemon… Everyone gets the chance to try new things and learn about new recipes / local bakeries / unique products, as entries need not be homemade. Each person present can vote for top three on presentation and on taste. Spreadsheet tabulation ensues. Winner chooses next theme. (People usually include allergen info on a label without being prompted, and they sometimes bring something that stretches or doesn’t fit the theme, if that’s what they’re feeling.)

 My floor has all of the lights off. We don’t like fluorescent lights. New people get a handful of poop emoji erasers to use as weapons to toss when you need someone’s attention but they have headphones on.

 At a place I used to work we had a tradition called Bad Decision Friday. It was a small, very casual nonprofit. We’d either go somewhere together and have greasy, regrettable food, or–if it was busy — we’d order greasy, regrettable food delivered. The camaraderie! The indigestion! I miss that place.

 I worked in a TV newsroom many years ago that had a gargoyle statue on the corner of the assignment desk. He was the “Breaking News God” and every time someone touched him, some major incident would inevitably happen that would require reporters and photogs to rush out the door and producers to completely re-tool their rundowns. It was a workplace full of skeptical journalists, but everyone was wary of the BNG.

 We had The Team Plant. It was a nice ordinary office houseplant in a basket, and it didn’t belong to anyone in particular. Most of the time it lived on a credenza in the middle of our open space. But sometimes the team would just decide that you deserved or needed to have The Team Plant on your desk for a while.

You might find it on your desk if you got a promotion or had a new grandchild, or if your car was damaged in a fender-bender or someone on your account team left the company, or if you had a cold and were dragging. It appeared on my desk the week my father died and stayed there for a while, and then one of my co-workers completed a difficult project and I passed it on to him.

 My former office has the New Hire Frog. Every new hire, regardless of experience, is bequeathed this gaudy frog statue from the former new person, along with a list of Rules of the Frog. Rules include “rub frog’s belly for luck but no more than once a day” or “don’t place frog on your cubicle’s wall because he is afraid of heights” or “bring the frog with you to workload meetings so Head Boss remembers you don’t know all the ins and outs.” Silly, simple, occasionally practical stuff.

Supposedly the frog was liberated from a tequila bar in Mexico by a former employee, but no one ever got a straight answer from him so no one really knows where it came from. But faithfully does the frog stand upon each new hire’s desk.

 We had a huge oil painting donated by a board member long ago, it was an amateurish coastal harbor scene in odd colors, with a pink lighthouse with beams shining out from it that looked a bit … well, phallic, in a way that once you noticed it you could not un-see it. If you were out on travel or vacation and had enough wall space in your office, you might come back and find it hanging there. Then you had to keep an eye out for an opportunity to pass it on to the next lucky staffer. Nobody ever discussed this directly, it was just a thing that happened as if by magic. When we moved to a much smaller office space it was discreetly (and well) hung in the building’s common area.

 A few decades back when I was working as a computer technician the place I worked had a fun tradition. On the last Friday of the month, the boss would buy a case of beer, and around 4:30 we would gather in the loading dock and drink some beers while we took turns using a The Official Company Bat (TM) to beat any malfunctioning equipment into small pieces of scrap.

 I used to work with a museum with a lot of outdoor space for the public to enjoy free of charge. One summer day I decided it was far too hot to eat lunch in my office without any climate control, so I took my sandwich to the gazebo. This woman with about 10 macaw parrots climbing all over her, sauntered up the path. She then entered the museum, and began placing the birds on people.

I love birds. I even have my own parrots! Never would I think of bringing my girls to a public space and just put them on people. And yet, everyone acted like this was a perfectly normal thing. And everyone stopped what they were doing, even giving tours, to play with the birds they had been handed. The birds were delightful!

When she left, I kept asking people if it really had happened, and their response was, “Oh, that’s just the parrots for peace lady. She comes here sometimes to give the birds some shade.”

 At one workplace we had Salad Days in the summer. A coworker had a large garden (maybe actually a small farm?) and several times during the growing and harvesting season he’d announce a Salad Day and then bring in a HUGE amount of greens and veggies and other people would bring in things like dressing or cheese or croutons or fruit or bread or whatever might go on or with a salad and we’d all just eat giant salads for lunch.

 We have a company-wide White Elephant gift exchange every Christmas. It’s absolute madness, and a lot of fun. One year, an intern submitted several beautifully framed photos of himself. The recipient proudly displayed them at his desk until the following White Elephant, when he wrapped them up and put them back in gift pile. And the same thing happened the year after that, and the year after that… It’s now been more than 15 years, and the photos of Intern Nathan have showed up in the White Elephant every year since.

 My workplace has a cat. He was not originally ours, he moved in at some point. We are a very secure site, with badging in everywhere, secured perimeter, 24/7 security guards etc., and a cat who is just allowed to wander around. He has a Facebook page which has more likes than that of the institution’s leader, he features in the Newcomers’ Guide and if we have visitors, we sure check whether he is at his usual spot, to show him off. He has an official entry on our website. Search for Micky the Space Cat!

 I worked in a very casual workplace (shorts, jeans, basically anything goes as long as it’s not too revealing), and we would occasionally have a “Formal Friday” (like casual Friday, but the opposite, get it?). Some people would just dress office snazzy, some would wear something you’d wear to a cocktail party, and some people used the opportunity to bust out their 80s/90s apparel with shoulder pads and chunky gold jewelry. Good fun. (And, of course, totally optional.)

 I have just joined a team where people have huge adult terry cloth bibs to wear at lunch time. (The kind that can be bought in bulk for nursing homes.) Mine was bestowed on me this week and I am surprisingly happy about it.

{ 441 comments… read them below }

  1. Essentially Cheesy*

    I really really wish the yarn thing was something that would be done in our office. I would be so happy to knit or crochet blankets for the good of the office. SO HAPPY you have no idea.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I also wish this would happen at my work. I love that she was actually supported in crocheting for concentration!

      1. Essentially Cheesy*

        I handle the front desk duties and there are down times that I have occasionally where I could be doing something with yarn. (I am almost never in meetings, I am too low level for that.)

        I have gotten interested in knitting shawls over the past year or two, this might be a good thing to develop a shawl basket at work.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          A friend of mine is the front counter person and she’s not getting anywhere with her boss on this topic even though he admits it doesn’t hurt her productivity…”it just doesn’t look right.” Argh.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            What I always find interesting is how many people find it relaxing to watch other people knit or crochet. So, it could help with general productivity.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              I now have an image of an entire room of employees staring hypnotized at crocheting coworker…

    2. Sloanicota*

      I worked at a place that had a tradition of handing around a project for any new babies born into the office. When we had more good knitters we handed around a hat made on round needles, and everybody that knew how cast a few rows in scrap yarn (or commissioned someone else to cast rows) – but we also did squares for baby blankets if I recall correctly. “Good” knitters did beautiful cables in ugly yarn, and less-confident ones tended to go for basic knit/pearl in pretty yarn. As I recall the finished products were oddly charming and miss-matched.

      1. properlike*

        I would take an oddly charming and mismatched blanket over a perfectly knitted blanket any day! What a lovely tradition.

        1. Aeryn Sun*

          Absolutely! As someone that does knit/crochet (though I’m more into embroidery right now) I personally view mistakes and mismatched things as being proof it’s handmade. :)

    3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      I loved this one too. The best part – the office paid for the yarn. The crochet lady was not expect to pay out of pocket, nor were the new hires. It sounds like a lovely tradition and I hope it is still going strong.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, good for her for saying “I’m not paying” and good for the bosses for putting that in the budget! Such a nice thing.

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      You could always volunteer with your local chapter of Project Linus, blankets for kids in hospitals

      1. Essentially Cheesy*

        My local chapter of Project Linus is so heavily focused on sewn quilts, it’s been difficult to give them my crocheted blankets. Maybe I should re-investigate that though, it’s been a long time.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          there are other organizations such as Warm Up America. Also I think Wounded Warrior project accepts crocheted/knitted blankets.

        2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          I had never heard of them before and it turns out there’s a chapter local to me. Though they have rules about allergens and I have cats…

          1. Mari*

            You might also be able to donate blankets to a local animal shelter, since they will already be dealing with pet hair there. It might have to be something easily washable, though, so cotton/acrylics.

        3. Not Australian*

          I’m a regular contributor to Project Linus and I believe the rules about crocheted blankets actually *have* changed over the years. (I mostly do quilts, although I have friends who knit blankets too.) Their website should be helpful.

        4. Mentalrose*

          Some of the food pantries around where I live will take blankets, and others who don’t actually take them can direct you to shelters where they can find good use. It’s a place worth asking at least!

      2. Pickwick Triplet*

        I knit blankets for animal shelters through an organization called the Snuggles Project. It’s an awesome hobby!

    5. Turquoisecow*

      Such a cool way to take advantage of this person’s hobby and skill without actually taking advantage of them, and without leaving her with piles of blankets.

    6. 3DogNight*

      Did anyone else expect that story to continue with, and now the blanket is 97 feet long and has it’s own conference room? That would have been almost as awesome as the real story!

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Yup, I also briefly had a vision of the blanket covering the creator’s lap, then legs, then unfurling across the room and down the hall…

          1. JustaTech*

            In college my dorm developed a project where we took painfully cheap yarn that had been used for a prank and crocheted a 2-couch blanket with it. Just plain single stitch, but it was long enough to comfortably cover two couches, and while it was in progress anyone could pick it up and do a few stitches (or a few hours).

            It was hideous, but it was warm!

          2. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

            I’m imagining it covering the tops of all the cubicles to make a super-epic blanket fort lol.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        *whispers* shhh…it can hear us… you have no idea, no idea, how long it is now…coiled and curled up everywhere…

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          Like those “Christo Art Event” things in the 80s where he had miles of fabrics all over the place?

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            I did like those. I grew up in the SF Bay area and they had the white “fences.” Now I live in NYC and I got to do the last project they did – the Gates. It was really cool.

      3. Ginger Peachy*

        Yes! But then my germaphobe self got busy worrying about how or if the giant blanket was being cleaned.

    7. slr*

      Any workplace that wants to know how to motivate employees to enthusiastically come back to the office 5 days a week needs to read that story. That’s how you do it!

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          With a warm cat curled up on my feet, as alas, I do not work with Micky the Space Cat.

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            I am now following Micky the Space Cat on FB and it turns out I’m not the only AAM follower to do so.

    8. Banana Nut Muffin*

      Long ago, when I worked someplace that let me knit in meetings, I ended up knitting little bean bags for everyone on my team. I loved that job.

    9. LabSnep*

      Me too, but minus the no acrylic caveat because I am so allergic to wool and the alternatives are tooooo expensive for an afghan.

  2. MissGirl*

    The yarn tradition just made my day. I nominate that manager for best in show. Rather than prohibit her knitting, he channeled that energy for the greatest good!

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Agreed – same here. Also an avid knitter who greatly appreciates quality yarn. I love that the manager figured out a way to make it a budget item.

    1. Phony Genius*

      I somehow remember a past letter related to this where an employee wanted to do something like this in the office, possibly during meetings. Does anybody else remember it?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        The two letters I found that were closest to this knitting tradition are:

        “Knitting a departing manager a baby blanket” from March 17, 2021 (letter #4 on a short answer post)


        “I’ve become the office seamstress” from August 23, 2018 (letter #1 on a short answer post)

        There have also been various other letters on knitting at work, giving crafted objects to coworkers, and similar.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        A team I was on previously had good luck Oreos for each launch. They were required to be double stuff and to be opened/one eaten prior to launch time.

      2. raktajino*

        At the very beginning of the pandemic, NASA employees had to strategize how to keep their cats from wreaking havoc in space:

      3. TooTiredTooThink*

        At the start of the pandemic, according to Twitter, NASA legit had a meeting about how to handle everyone’s cats at home in case they stepped on keyboards, so safe to say, they like them LOL.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          I’m glad that someone was thinking of this, because I have been co-resident with cats who liked to tap dance on keyboards, and have come back to papers peppered with random numbers/letters/symbols. It would be pretty horrifying to find out that Fluffy McFluffNuggett had launched the ISS into the sun or out to Saturn or something like that.

      4. Princess Sparklepony*

        NASA has CATS. But it’s a The Cloud-Aerosol Transport System. So not exactly a cat.

  3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    After reading about toxic workplaces, bad bosses, and annoying co-workers, it’s wonderful to have this list of traditions that make workplaces fun (especially Micky the Space Cat).

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I agree. My department culture has gone way downhill the last couple of years (which some of the reason I’m leaving) and I’m realizing it’s because everyone is SO stressed and frantic all the time. I’ve never been one to jibe with the “we’re a faaaaaammmily” thing, but I do realize it’s a much better workplace when there is some levity. I could see how innocuous traditions like these help to keep people form being actively miserable.

      1. Barrie*

        I was just thinking similarly. None of these would fly in my very corporate staid workplace- indeed some would probably get you fired, or at least marked as “slightly odd” – but they all sound so much fun and im sure make the workplace a little bit happier (i especially would love to have an office cat!)

    2. mli25*

      These traditions (for the most part) seem fun and funny and light. I wish more offices had something in the vein of these entries

    3. Anna Crusis*

      These traditions are so charming and quirky! I need to work where people think like this and the work culture supports it.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Right? Someday, one of the employees at that company will meet Nathan and Nathan will be all confused as to why that employee knows him and it’ll be hilarious.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        I need to know what became of Intern Nathan… did he come back full time? Did he go to another company and this other company still passes around his picture?

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        My guess is Nathan had a friend who had just gotten engaged or married. And had gotten a lot of picture frames as gifts. And Nathan had a spectacular way of disposing of them.

    2. WeirdChemist*

      My family has a really similar tradition! It started with my dad putting in a picture of himself “because I’m the best gift you can get”. My uncle ended up picking the picture in the gift exchange and put the picture back in the next year – except he stuck a picture of himself over my dad’s. Now the tradition it to replace the picture with a (preferably silly) picture of yourself to put back in next year. And yes, there’s a lot of subterfuge in hiding the picture frame (now w/ album) amongst the gifts. It’s honestly my favorite family tradition, I love having 20 years of silly family pictures to look at every Christmas :)

      1. cardigarden*

        My family’s version of this is an absolutely HIDEOUS Hawaiian shirt. Like, the pattern includes a face that looks a lot like Tom Selleck. The best part is that it disappears for a few years– just long enough that you forget who had it last and have no idea when it’ll turn up again.

        1. pagooey*

          My family passed around a hideous Christmas sweatshirt (Santa iron-on, glitter puffy paint, etc.) that my mother made in a forced workplace crafting session! We exchanged it for 20 years, but I think my former BIL ended up with it in the divorce.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            “You can have the car, but I’m KEEPING the hideous Christmas sweatshirt your mom made.” –ex-BIL, apparently

        2. What's in the box.*

          we used to have a particular box that got used year after year. one year my cousins had enough, and shoved it into the fireplace…..

          next year, someone got half a burnt box. my mother fished it out of the ashes.

          1. PhyllisB*

            Yes!! We had this box from a local dress shop that was bright pink that someone ended up with every year. When my mother wrapped gifts, she would write the person’s name on the box so she could keep track without having to peek in the box again. The next year she would cross out previous name and add whoever. The whole top was filled with crossed out names.
            Once I complained that I was sick of this box and didn’t want to see any of my gifts in it the next year. A complaint that was…ignored. It finally fell to pieces one year and had to be thrown out. We all kind of missed it after it was gone.

            1. Princess Sparklepony*

              That was a quality box to have lasted that long! I never dismiss a quality box… And I miss having a house with a box room. I grew up with that – a space in the eaves that was perfect for keeping boxes until needed.

              1. Lizzie*

                For YEARS my mom reused the old vintage department store boxes. the ones that you didn’t have to put together, and were sturdy and had lids. She kept a lot of decorations in some, and others were reused for gifts. I miss them. esp. the ones with decorations, as it was so fun to see them come out every year!

    3. Shelby Drink the Juice*

      One year for our office white elephant I had socks made with my boss’ face on it. They were a hit and made it into the rotation for the next few years.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Same here. Although I am sitting at my desk with my new tiara as I trial prep. So there is that.

        1. Kit*

          It’s Tiara Tuesday! No legal qualifications required, just a tiara (costume jewelry is fine, most people can’t afford Cartier…) – and yes, wearing tiaras on the other six days of the week is also permissible.

          1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

            At one place, if you’re presenting at a conference you are entitled to wear the tiara that day. (If more than one person is presenting that day, it’s strictly BYOT.)

    2. MigraineMonth*

      All the whimsical places I worked were also dysfunctional AF. Sometimes companies go from “what if we had fun things in the office” and “what if we had so many fun things in the office that NO ONE WOULD EVER GO HOME.”

    3. A person*

      We got a new overlord this year and she hates our stupid little quirky things that we do in the office to have fun. It doesn’t stop us from doing them… but we are sneakier about it now.

      Tiny dinosaurs, safety mascots, naming the equipment fun (but work appropriate) names, celebrating random non-traditional holidays (like National John Day), coordinating outfits, etc… and she hates them all.

      1. Sel*

        This made me look up other “national [name]” days and I’m going to tell my husband to mark of May 24, which is National Mike Day. He works with like 6 guys named Mike.

    4. Reluctant Mezzo*

      We had a little excitement one year when someone’s cut out paper snowflakes in her cubicle got out of hand, and so did our weather. The guilty party took a few of the snowflakes down and put up a couple of paper suns in hope we would stop bugging her…

      Then there was the cubicle decorated for the occupant’s 60th birthday. The coffin was over the top, but the walker had some lovely ribbons on it.

    1. Zelda*

      IKR! THE SHRIMP! Falling off my sofa laughing at the shrimp!

      Also, Office Blankie is a marvelous custom and more places should have them.

      1. Not Your Sweetheart*

        I read “You have the shrimp” in the Arby’s voice. Which made that story even more fun.

    1. Old Woman in Purple*

      “…who’d worked there longer than God…”

      I’m an atheist, and I still love this turn-of-phrase.

  4. Three Pandemic Kids*

    I just want to thank the poster who shared about Micky the Space Cat (and of course Alison for adding him to this post) – I now have a new page to follow on Facebook, and a bigger smile on my face this afternoon!

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Me too. Micky’s FB page admin is going to be surprised at the large jump in likes he’s going to get today.

      1. Team Micky*

        On behalf of Team Micky, thank you! Indeed, every workplace needs a Micky, though many of them haven’t realized it yet :-)

  5. KayDee*

    Years ago one of the holiday party raffle gifts was a flower vase that was not all that attractive, and really looked more like something you would use in a science lab than something you would want to put flowers in. The person who won it was 100% unimpressed and started calling it Beaker. Somehow it turned into it having a dry erase face on it, wearing a tiny lei (we all had our own we would put on whenever someone had a birthday. That was it’s own weird tradition that also included a grass skirt and a cowboy hat). Suddenly, everyone was giving Beaker a personality. Then there was a glass cubicle window that had a larger than life dry erase drawing of Beaker, and a new “Beaker’s joke of the day” every day.

  6. Thistle Pie*

    I love this all so much and I regret missing my opportunity to submit on the thread that offered these. Small in comparison to many of these, but my previous office was located in an area that saw significant snow storms in the winter. We all had the ability to work remotely, but some of us preferred being in the office. So our office manager started the Snownuts tradition – on snow days he would pick up a dozen donuts to be shared by those who braved the storm (usually the people who could walk to work).

    1. My Dear Wormwood*

      Our student retreat features 3-minute talks from each student, with a rubber chicken timekeeper. It gets squeaked when your time is up, and if you go over time, it gets thrown at you.

      Also, at last year’s retreat, a senior professor rickrolled us all.

  7. Optimus*

    I missed the ask, but my office celebrates Fiscal New Year with an hour-long virtual meeting (we are all remote) with funny hats, party games, and some pranks and some sort of gift for our wonderful and remarkably good-sport boss. :)

    1. Dismal Scientist*

      My office had an all out Fiscal New Year’s Eve Party this year. We organized it outside of work hours and had a small potluck buffet, disco ball drop, and champagne toasts while yelling “Happy New Year”. I’m sure the neighbors of the coworker who agreed to host were very confused.

    2. That One*

      I also worked in an office that celebrated Fiscal New Year. A Chinese-American colleague would make these delicious rice bars that were apparently a Lunar New Year tradition!

    3. Dulera*

      At work my team has to give a large number of denials all on a single day. It’s emotionally awful. So someone on another team noticed and created Dips, Denials, and Drinks which occurs on the same day and includes a spread of amazing dips and alcoholic drinks at the end of the day to help us get through.

    4. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’ve worked for an accountancy membership body for four years and I’m kicking myself we’ve never done this! I may propose it to our social organising team as an idea…

  8. SBDavin*

    These are so fun, especially Micky the Space Cat. Reminds me of Larry the Cat, the Chief Mouser of 10 Downing Street.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Larry is awesome and should probably be Prime Minister. And he’s retired now, but the Foreign Office used to have Palmerston the Cat, Chief Mouser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Treasury has Gladstone the Cat, Chief Mouser to the Treasury. (Larry’s official job title is Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.)
      All of these cats have their own Wikipedia pages and Larry has a couple of fan pages on Instagram.

      1. Not Australian*

        Also Felix and Bolt, the Huddersfield Station Cats … although I believe their page has been quiet lately.

      2. GhostGirl*

        I follow Larry on Twitter. I had no idea about the other cats (They would probably run the country much better than humans.) But I do know that Harvard has Remy the Humanities Cat and I love him (another ginger tabby, too!)

        1. La Triviata*

          Not to mention Stationmaster Tama; she died and they did get a new Tama. The original Tama is now a demi-goddess.

        2. The Prettiest Curse*

          Given the low quality of our recent PMs, I hope that Larry has a habit of bringing dead mice to the person in charge! Preferably in the middle of the night.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Considering how old those buildings are and the extent of the mouse problem, I hope Larry has a successor!

    2. PhyllisB*

      I don’t know if he ever had a Facebook page, but I remember reading a book about Dewey the Library Cat. I’ll drop back in tomorrow with exact title and author if anyone’s interested.

  9. Mim*

    LOVE the blanket idea and want to steal it.

    Gutsy move to say no acrylic instead of only acrylic. I say that as someone who would choose wool for herself in a heartbeat. But… who is washing these blankets, and who has the space to lay them all flat to dry after washing? Has anyone ever accidentally felted one after being a well meaning office citizen and bringing it home to wash it? I have so many logistical questions.

    I also feel like it could be fun to have yarn and crocheting and knitting supplies just available in a common area at all times, with some basic instructions, so folks could work on squares on their own, as well. Think of all the blankets they could have! Or donate! Thinking about the post earlier about the pre-meeting group stretch time, or whatever. Some of us would find working with our hands a much better form of relaxation. Stitches over stretches.

    1. Gwen Soul*

      If she had been crocheting for along time I can see it. Older acrylic was nasty and scratchy to work with. The newer stuff is lovely but once you get in a habit is hard to break. I wonder about the washing though, bet if someone felted the blanket they would feel awful!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Some buildings make arrangements with a local dry cleaners for regular pick-up & drop-off service, so safe cleaning is possible.

        BigBoss budgeted for yarn. Why not cleaning?

    2. HugsAreNotTolerated*

      Sooo about a decade or so ago I worked in the corporate office for Michaels (a large US & Canada retail store for arts, crafts & hobby supplies) we actually did have crafting supplies available for people to work on when they needed a break! We also had a “Yarn Yoga” group that took over a conference room twice a week during the lunch hours and we all worked on projects, taught people how to knit & crochet, and used yarn samples to make items for Warm Up America.

  10. Butterfly Counter*

    The Salad Days one is making my mouth water!

    I also like the Snack Battle one!

    (I must be hungry…)

    1. Peon*

      I suddenly want salad.

      We do a chili cookoff every year with multiple categories, one being “Best side dish” and another is “Best Overall” – one year the salad won Best Overall. It was really a fantastic salad, but the chili makers were a bit salty.

  11. PotsPansTeapots*

    I had a “Formal Friday” at my first job out of college. It was just the customer service people, though, and I think it rubbed some people the wrong way. (Not least because someone actually owned a tuxedo and wore it.)

  12. Non-profit drone*

    I want to work at the place where they drink beer and smash things with Official Office Bats.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          When I worked in retail, anything that was returned and couldn’t be resold (due to damage, recall, etc.) was “damaged out.” Smashing snow globes can be especially satisfying.

    1. COHikerGirl*

      I worked at CompUSA long ago and policy was to destroy certain returned things. The warehouse guys kept some golf clubs just for that. One poor eMac really got it one day. It was weirdly fun!

    2. Peon*

      I have always wanted to do that. I have a specific model of HP desk jet printer in mind for it too.

    3. Statler von Waldorf*

      That was my story!

      Sadly, that place no longer exists. The owner retired about ten years or so ago, and the new owners ran that place into the ground in less than two years. It’s a health food store now.

      He was a good boss, and I learned a lot there. (Including how to discharge a CRT so that smashing it with a bat won’t kill you.) From what I heard, he now has the bat mounted on a wall in his living room.

    1. Nea*

      Honestly the most practical of all of these stories! Normalize bibs! You have nothing to lose but grease stains on your work clothes!

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Honestly, I would definitely use one of those. Feels like I’m constantly dripping things on myself.

    3. zaracat*

      As a larger busted woman who is perpetually battling food stains on clothing, I feel like there should be a whole range of fancy adult bibs for eating out, instead of the sad printed plastic ones.

      1. Liz*

        After I became a person who carries a handkerchief, the next logical step was to keep a very large spare hankie in my bag — for hay fever emergencies, but also to tuck into my collar if I wanted spicy noodles for lunch. Yes, I look naff … but I walk out with a full belly and a clean shirt.

        (Also my hankies are washed after every use and I don’t use them when I’m actually sick, I feel like I should clarify that for people who are grossed out by the idea.)

      2. Sequoia*

        There are! Look on Amazon for “Reversible Adult Bib Scarf” – from a small business, Designed to Dine. They were originally intended to be more dignified bibs for adults with special needs or for seniors in nursing homes so they could protect their clothes without looking like an overgrown toddler. But they absolutely work for anyone to wear! I’m wearing one right now as I eat lunch at my desk.

    4. NeedsMoreCookies*

      Seems like it might be a practical way to signal that you’re on your lunch break, too.

    5. Juicebox Hero*

      Finding out about dining scarves was a gamechanger for me. For whatever reason, I am incapable of eating or drinking anything without wearing it no matter how careful I am… or splashing water all over myself when I wash my hands.

      They are scarves made of washable material that cover your whole front while you eat, but look like regular scarves. I got mine from Amazon, where they have a zillion different prints and solid colors.

      At home I just tuck a dish towel into my collar and slob away.

    1. Pat*

      I was so excited when I read that one because I’m pretty sure my friend is the Parrots for Peace lady (unless maybe there’s more than one?). She started working with the parrots after she moved from the city we meet in, so I haven’t seen the parrots in person, but there are lots of wonderful photos of her outings. It seems like such a great way to positively impact a lot of people.

  13. Phony Genius*

    Two of these stories are actually googleable if you want pictures: Micky the Space Cat and Parrots for Peace.

  14. Frickityfrack*

    I NEED that adult bib. Like right now, specifically. I’m eating one of those salads that’s been packed into its container so tightly that it sort of explodes when you open it and I’ve already knocked about 42 pieces of kale on myself.

    My office mostly just decorates for holidays and we have a seriously absurd break area, but we did just go all out for Fat Bear Week, and I made a trophy that my coworker has on display until next year (when my bracket will hopefully be less of a disaster).

    1. Nea*

      I make a bib by clipping paper towels to my shirt with a binder clip. I’d love to normalize bib wearing in the office!

      1. Frickityfrack*

        It was fun. Highly recommend it. We all filled ours out and hung them on my coworker’s door, and then other people around the office started picking their favorites because who can resist a fat bear?

    2. Tammy 2*

      Although I am not above a bib, I keep a large bowl at my desk for salads and it’s a total game-changer. Salads you buy are always packed ridiculously, and it’s also nice to be able to bring salad from home in a compact container knowing I can mix and eat it in my special bowl.

    3. Avid Reader*

      My dog should have won Miss Congeniality for 2023 Katmai Fat Bear Week. She is a Belgian Malinois weighing in at 108 pounds named Lulu. Sometimes I refer to her as Cleopatrapottamus.

    4. Always Tired*

      I am so jealous. I put real money up for the march madness brackets, knowing I wouldn’t win (but coming surprisingly close because there were a bunch of upsets or something?) but did it for the team building. When I got super stoked about Fat Bear Week everyone looked at me like I had two heads and no one was interested in doing brackets with me.

  15. An American(ish) Werewolf in London(ish)*

    I want a space cat. Also, working for a space agency in the Netherlands sounds utterly amazing.

  16. Cease and D6*

    My former office was full of extremely competitive and enthusiastic people, and that bled into our traditions a bit. Most notable was our heavily game-ified Secret Snowflakes exchange, in which you not only needed to get a small present for one randomly-selected coworker, but you also needed to disguise your involvement as much as you could. At the end, we would open the gifts and then also each attempt to guess who got what for whom, with scores for our performance at both guessing correctly and not being guessed correctly. The winner didn’t get any additional present, but they did get the people’s ovation and fame forever.
    This led to all sorts of emergent high-stakes strategies. People forged their colleagues’ handwriting, stole desk keys, entered secret pacts, monitored each others’ comings and goings, and constructed elaborate scavenger-hunt style puzzles that needed to be solved before the present could be located. It got progressively more intense every year, to the point where the second week of December was a minefield of overlapping clues and schemes.
    To this day I wonder what the higher-ups thought of our slightly diminished December performance…

    1. Cedrus Libani*

      I went to a high school like that. Homecoming Week was a competition between the classes. In other words, it was an all-out bonanza of Type A teenage nerds trying to outdo one another for no apparent reason. For instance, each day would have a theme, and you were to dress accordingly; each class would nominate their best-dressed representatives, and then the faculty would choose the winners. Once, it was Peter Pan day, so I turned up dressed as Skull Island. It involved 50 yards of fake foliage with an under-structure of hula hoops. My face was painted to look like a skull. There was a treasure chest. You had to wear your costume all day long, so…that’s what I did. I took a linear algebra midterm while wearing a pirate island. And no, I didn’t get to represent my class. Someone else turned up in a full movie-accurate Hook cosplay, which was admittedly better, so she got the nod.

      This tradition also led to the one and only time my mother refused to let me leave the house in my outfit. It would have been Dress Sexy day, but the administration vetoed that, so it was Dress Nerdy instead. Being a teenager, I decided to do both. I improvised a nude bodysuit – khaki shirt, khaki shorts, pantyhose on top of the shorts – and then put a lab coat on, flasher style. Alas, I was intercepted at the door; my protests that I was actually wearing more clothes than usual fell on deaf ears.

  17. GroguG*

    Many many moons ago I worked at a major theme park in the ride/operations division. I was assigned as an operator at a ride that had been part of the park since it had opened 15 years previously. The ride was very very popular, but also kind of creaky and aging. So down times were not unexpected. Whenever we got bored, we had a mini umbrella in our break room, which when opened guaranteed a downtime within the hour. Never failed! Sometimes it could be something simple and we’d be back up in 20 minutes. One time it was because guests wandered into a show scene that had live fire effects coming out of the ground and we had to hit the emergency stop button to prevent guest flambé, and it took four hours to reset.

  18. Anon (and on and on)*

    The shrimp one made me remember my own office tradition! We have a small, purple, stuffed frog wearing a chain and dew rag that sings the first few lines of 50 Cent’s In Da Club while it bobs its head to the beat. We have no idea how this thing is still working after (literally) twenty years. Plus, we’re starting to employ student workers who weren’t even alive when that song came out! We don’t take it out for every birthday like we did when I started there, but it will still make random appearances.

    1. properlike*

      Only making this correction because I saw it in a recent movie trailer: “You mean a ‘do’ rag?” :)

    2. Stephanie*

      My mom has an animatronic Santa that has been going for 30+ years. You can definitely hear the motors creak now, but I’m amazed when she breaks it out at Christmas and it still runs.

  19. a former scientist?*

    These are all adorable and I’m sad that I missed the chance to comment originally!

    Every year in December, we have a peanut butter and jelly party for a group of people. We used to all work together, but now due to promotions and etc., we’re in all different departments scattered around our company but still get together for it. It started because a former coworker that would eat with myself and my lunch group would always bring the most random things for lunch, like a bag of goldfish crackers, a tub of yogurt, some random fruit, one day he brought just tomatoes, etc., because he said he didn’t want to have to buy lunch meat to make sandwiches and he couldn’t be bothered cuz it was too much work. One of the people in my group gifted him a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly once and made us all sandwiches to show him that it was easy to make PB+J sandwiches.

    It has grown through the years (and the coworker has moved on) but now people bring in homemade breads, tons of different kinds of peanut butter, and various really cool/really weird/homemade jams and jellies and we spend about 2 hours eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Starfish and coffee
      Maple syrup and jam
      Butterscotch clouds and a tangerine
      And a side order of ham

        1. Jamie Starr*

          OrigCassandra is quoting part of the chorus from a much loved Prince song called “Starfish and Coffee” from Sign ‘O’ the Times. It’s about a girl named Cynthia Rose who said those were the items she had for breakfast (and in her lunchbox).

  20. Caz*

    I was recently on holiday and visited a museum with a resident cat. There were multiple signs leading up to the entrance, and on the desk, reminding people not to pick the cat up but to allow him to approach you – or not – on his terms. He also had stickers available in the gift shop. (My husband wouldn’t let me buy one. I told him he’s boring.)

    I love the talking shrimp idea, and how it’s transferred over to virtual meetings too! It’s simple, it’s respectful, it’s just the right kind of quirky.

  21. Indolent Libertine*

    A friend’s workplace had a white elephant exchange, where a Chia pet in the shape of homer Simpson‘s head was the gift that repeated year after year after year. People went to great lengths to wrap it in large, oddly shaped, or otherwise unusual packaging so that it wouldn’t be obvious what was inside.

    1. mli25*

      We have this within my husband’s family. The two items that get circulated are a pair of used potholders and a wreath that says “Joy” (we call it “The YOJ” – (joy backwards)). It’s not small, so trying to disguise it is always tough. Bricks might have ended up in the box one year…

      1. Kelly White*

        We do this too- we had an accordion make the rounds, and someone gift wrapped just one accordion key, and had the rest of the accordion in their car.

        We all know better than to choose the small gifts.

  22. Chirpy*

    I want a space cat!

    We sometimes have store birds (or raccoons, yikes) because they sneak in, but as wild animals, they’re no fun.

  23. Critical Failure*

    The Formal Friday sounds fun to me. As someone who wears yoga pants and spirit tshirts 99% of the time for work (I work at a university), occasionally wearing a super dressy outfit sounds fun – kind of like wearing a costume. And since it would be expected on that day, there’s less chance of awkward “oh look who’s dressed up today!” comments that make you feel self-conscious.

    We don’t have an office cat at my university but we have some feral campus cats. One is an old sweetheart that lives in the landscaping near the center of campus. I visit him pretty much every day and get much-needed kitty pets.

    1. Angstrom*

      A group at work started an optional “Floral Friday”, which began with Hawaiian shirts and expanded to anything in the same spirit. As you said, it’s a fun excuse to get out some seldom-worn items without feeling conspicuous.

      1. Agile Phalanges*

        I’m the one who posted about Formal Friday at a former job, and now in my current job, we also have Floral Friday, I guess, but we’ve just called it Hawaiian Shirt Friday. Floral Friday makes way more sense!

        We wear polos with the company logo M-Th, and while Friday started as specifically meant for Hawaiian shirts, it’s expanded to be basically whatever you want within reason. However, a couple months ago the company ordered Hawaiian shirts that incorporate our logo (you know the ads for incorporating your pet into Hawaiian print? Like that, but with our logo), so now people mostly wear one of those two designs and it’s still basically a uniform. But hey, if the company wants to buy my weekday wardrobe, I’m not complaining!

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Because it says quite clearly that the coworkers care about each other. They know about the joys and challenges in each others lives and they acknowledge them quietly.

  24. many bells down*

    My husband worked for a place that had a “Broke the Build” trophy. Unfortunately, things got to a point where if the owner saw it on your desk he’d blame that person for anything that went wrong for months – by name, to publishers even. My husband stole it when he left.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Yea! It was kind of weird but normal-weird in physical meetings, but people using shrimp emojis in virtual meetings took it to a whole new level.

    2. Panicked*

      I somehow have to work “you have the shrimp” into my vernacular, because it’s incredible.

    3. Alice Quinn*

      Same! I keep hearing it in Ving Rhames’s voice in the style of the “We have the meats” from the Arby’s ads!

  25. Llama Lover*

    Can we combine the talking shrimp people from this week with the airline pilots from last week?

    You have the shrimp.
    I have the shrimp.
    You have the shrimp.

    Also, love that the new hire frog is a visual reminder to the boss to go easier/slower on the new person!

    1. Engineer*

      New Hire Frog was mine! He was a very useful reminder for all the new people, particularly with experienced hires because it was easy to forget they didn’t know how *we* did things. I was at that office 4 years before I transferred and we had developed something of a cult around frogs in that time – New Hire Frog, Goodbye Frog (little keychain accessory Head Boss bought in bulk to give to people leaving), Birthday Frog (frog plushy got people got to keep in their cubes on their bday), two ceramic frogs for the office plants…

      1. borealis*

        He was a very useful reminder for all the new people, particularly with experienced hires because it was easy to forget they didn’t know how *we* did things.

        That’s what I was thinking when I read about Frog – it must be helpful not only for Head Boss type people but also for colleagues who have been around for a while, to remind them that office procedures might not be obvious to new colleagues!

        I like the Cult of Frog, too. Excellent silly-but-not-OTT office bonding thing, much like the shrimp.

      1. DannyG*

        Combined with the Formal Friday you get a white sport coat on a pink crustacean .(missing Jimmy Buffet)

        1. Zelda*

          I know why Alison doesn’t have ‘like’ buttons in the comment section, but I could use one right about now.

    2. Samwise*

      It’s like rock climbing!

      Climber checks knots, carabiner, belay tool etc. on self and belayer
      Belayer checks knots, carabiner, belay tool etc. on self and on climber

      On belay.
      Climb on. (Or, climb on, duuuuude)

      Toughest thing with tweens and early teens — not letting them climb if they don’t go through the script

      Toughest thing about using the auto-belay: following the script for yourself. So that you don’t fall from 14 feet up not clipped-in. (I only did that once…)

    3. Shrimp Emplaced*

      Omg. I love this. I love this so much. !!!!

      Can this be the comments section’s unusual tradition? (not biased based on my username)

      1. Random Dice*

        There is no way “you have the shrimp” and “I have the shrimp” isn’t entering our collective vocabulary, to confuse the heck out of AAM newbies.

  26. Weaponized Pumpkin*

    The shrimp one! A shrimp in chat is somehow a lot better than a raised hand to me. I love that kind of quirk.

    In the DC libraries, there’s a Red Tape Award. It goes peer to peer, given to an employee who has outwitted or cut through the bureaucracy.

  27. Turquoisecow*

    The one about the framed photo of the intern reminds me of my second year at my current company, when the department did a gift exchange. The boss explained the rules to us in a team meeting, and one of my fellow newbies asked if the gifts were supposed to be serious or gag gifts.

    The boss and several veteran employees started to laugh, and they explained that one year they did the gift exchange, and there was an extra gift. Turned out it was from one of the team to the boss, a framed photo of her boss. She found it so hilarious that she kept it in her office, and the person who had her name in the exchange also gave her a more serious and heartfelt gift in addition.

  28. Ana Gram*

    I volunteer for a rescue squad with orange ambulances. (I have no idea why they’re orange but they have been since our founding 70+ years ago.)

    Each month, we introduce potential members at our meetings. Members ask a few questions and it all seems very normal and professional until The Question is asked. It’s a simple one. What’s your favorite color, we ask. Blue, green, purple, teal…all acceptable answers that pass with a few head nods and we move on. But if it’s orange? We lose. our. minds. We cheer and scream like you’re Taylor Swift and we’re all Swifties who just got invited to be BFF’s with her.

    We haven’t scared anyone off and the ones who answer orange look confused and pleased and the president says “next order of business” and we all move on like a totally normal, banal thing just happened. It’s so weird and I love it.

    1. Thistle Pie*

      I love this so much – especially the fact that it goes unaddressed, just keep moving on to the next topic!

  29. HannahS*

    At the hospital where I work, all the printers–and there are over 100–are named after superheroes. General internal medicine had BLACKWIDOW and WINTERSOLDIER, easier to remember than a string of abbreviations.

      1. starsaphire*

        Dying of laughter at the idea of trying to explain to IT how you accidentally spilled coffee on Perry Mason…

        1. cardigarden*

          Before I knew the system, the email asking for the prompt return of Matt Murdock had me “????”

      2. SpaceySteph*

        Not that adjacent but our local library has carts with fun names. I’ve seen Orson Scott Cart, Cart Twain, Cart Vader, Shelve Silverstein. Every time I think I’ve seen all the names a new one pops up.

        1. Pippa K*

          Like the winter road gritters in Scotland! Always some great names every year. For Your Ice Only, Snowlar Bear, Professor Chris Gritty, Sled Zeppelin….

        2. Princess Sparklepony*

          When I worked at a library in college we had names on most of the carts. I believe it started with Dewey for Dewey Decimal System. Then someone decided he was lonely and added his brothers Huey and Louie. There were a bunch more but I forget what they were. I think we had an R2D2 that was one of the smaller carts. (Unless that was a step stool. It was a long time ago.)

    1. Nina*

      In a huge (huge – it took half an hour to walk from one end to the other) testing lab where I used to work, analytical instruments were named, each type of instrument had a theme, and all instruments had a picture of their name character on them.

      HPLC were Star Wars, GC-MS were Star Trek, GC-FID were Shrek characters…

      1. WeirdChemist*

        Ha, we have something similar in my lab. Unfortunately, we historically haven’t been good at keeping a consistent theme… my department has superheroes, SpongeBob characters, famous scientists… it mildly bugs me haha. Also somewhat awkward when any of our results are used in court cases and these official legal documents say “analysis was run on Spongebob” lol

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        We do that at my house. All my stuff is named after Babylon-5 characters, my husband’s stuff is named after scientists, all the sensors for the alarm system are named after Disney characters (and mostly thematically as well – the water sensor in the basement are Sebastian, Flounder and Scuttle, the kitchen one is Nemo, the smoke alarms are Tiana, Remy and Hans… )

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          We name various items but usually puns or just random fun stuff. In our bathroom our ring holder is shaped like a hedgehog; his name is King Ringy Dingy.

    2. Jamie Starr*

      At a museum where I worked many, many years ago, all of the network drives were named after characters from Greek mythology. The only ones I remember are Apollo was the main all staff network and Mnemosyne was the library’s network drive. (Appropriate that I remember Mnemosyne!)

      1. You want stories, I got stories*

        So would Hephasteus be the dark directory you want hidden or would it be Dionysus?

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I worked at a place that would name servers after adjacent cities and suburbs. It worked great until they relocated 2,000 mi away.

      My phone is named “mefabla,” my old phone is “vademecum,” my tablet was named “tabula,” and my notebook is named “codex.” (“Talk to me,” “come with me,” tablet, and an ancient type of book, respectively).

      (it should be Me fabula, but the original mefabla only could accept 7 letters).

  30. SweetFancyPancakes*

    These are all delightful. Thank you, Alison, for providing these on a Monday morning!!

  31. GoryDetails*

    Those are marvelous! I was grinning the entire time. And now I want to implement veggie baskets among my friends-and-family gift-giving folk; I’m pretty sure most of them would love it. [Romanesco broccoli is beautiful and bizarre, as well as tasty. But even the all-onion basket would have tickled me.]

    1. SpaceySteph*

      I love the vegetables for baby shower especially because if you get a pregnancy tracking app it usually tells you how big baby is as it relates to fruits and vegetables. Some very common and some extremely obscure so baby/vegetable association already exists. When I was pregnant with my first I would bring home the produce of the week (until it got really big and became expensive/a waste of food)

      1. Anonymath*

        Same here. And the picture of the weekly progress had to include the fruit/vegetable of the week. My son once looked at the pregnancy pictures and wondered aloud why all the veggies?

    2. Random Dice*

      In Switzerland’s capital city Bern there is an onion festival that is taken – like all things Swiss – seriously to a ludicrous degree.

      An entire street festival where people wake up before dawn to drink mulled wine, buy ridiculously expensive strings of onions to gift and hang in the kitchen, elaborate onion sculptures (most of which are obscene), and all the onion foods you can imagine.–zibelmaerit–festival-shifts-30-tons-of-onions/48092570

  32. Paulette Valla*

    Back before banks consolidated all of their branches into one institution (1970s), you would have a Bank holding company and then individual branches. I worked in Accounting keeping the books for several of the individual branches. One of my branches was located in a big farming community. Once a year, the branch would send a truck filled with bushels of cabbages, potatoes, and other vegetables. They would let me know the day the truck would be arriving. I would let all the employees in the bank know the day of the delivery. The employees came to work that day with empty bags. It was a lot of fun and I got to see employees from all over the bank as they filled up their bags with veggies. Thank you Bubba (real name), Atlantic Bank of Hastings, Fl.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Was there a story behind the annual vegetable truck or was it just a random quirk of someone in charge?

      1. Paulette Valla*

        No story. As a thank you for our work, the Hastings branch manager would just once a year send a truck full of vegetables. It was one of the highlights of the year. Crates and sacks of vegetables all over the floor, with people coming in and out all day. By the end of the day there wasn’t anything left except a few loose cabbage leaves and potato dust.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I worked at a neighbor’s farmstead and just got a vivid scent memory from that description…. the cauliflower is strong with this one.

      1. Goldenrod*

        I just checked! Micky does have an Insta account!

        It’s @micky_the_space_cat. And he is soooooooooooooooo cute!!!!

  33. Nobby Nobbs*

    Formal Friday sounds dangerous. The only thing saving my wallet and closet space from the impulse buying of fancy clothes is the fact that I hardly have anywhere to wear the ones I have.

    1. Random Dice*

      I regularly wear sequin pencil skirts to work remotely. Nobody sees them but my hubby and me, but it makes me very happy.

  34. Irish Teacher.*

    My favourites are the new hire frog and the lady doing the crochet and new hire squares.

    The best my job has as regards traditions is that all new hires, especially temporary ones, have to be told that this is the Hotel California and they are with us for life now. This is because of how often short term jobs there seem to stretch and stretch. At the end of my first year there (which was meant to be a one-year job), I asked the principal if there was any possibility of anything for the following year and she said no, they already had all the teachers of my subjects that they needed. A month later, she called me up. A teacher had decided to take an extended break and was I available for another year. And then before that teacher returned, a learning support teacher left and I got a permanent job. It just seems to be a thing.

  35. Maisonneuve*

    I’m pretty sure I’m in the ‘wall of same’ photo of 6 people wearing something burgundy.

    1. WonderEA*

      We also had a wall of same-worthy burgundy photo at my work (credit union) with seven staff members a few years ago. It made our public FB page.

  36. Silicon Valley Girl*

    I might, just maybe, want to go into the office once a week if I had traditions like these!

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      I have already begun thinking about the situations in my life into which I can incorporate “you have the shrimp.”

  37. Anon Just for This*

    This reminds me of a job I had in a small, specialized retail store where you could replace any noun in a sentence with “squid.” You’d think it would lead to total anarchy, but it didn’t. “I’m going for a squid” meant grabbing a coffee. When someone said “pass me that squid,” they got what they were expecting like 90% of the time. “I sold a squid and two squids” – also a thing that made sense in context. “Tonight, you need to take the squid to the squid” would probably mean taking the cash deposit to the bank after close.

    By extension, GTFO (usually Get the F*** Out) morphed into saying we were going to “Grab the Flying Octopus.” Which always made me think of Mary Poppins, but instead of an umbrella, it’d be a cephalopod. It’s been well over a decade and I still use this one.

    1. Bee*

      Oh I love this, as someone who tends to replace various nouns with “guy” (much in the manner of the Philadelphia “jawn”). Squid is so much more fun. And can confirm – “hand me that guy” does tend to get you whatever you need!

    2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      There’s a tech management blogger I used to follow who refers to this as a “context-rich environment”.

  38. Rachel*

    My dad is retired now, but years ago while he was working, his department would celebrate the birthday of a mylar balloon that magically stayed inflated for years. Someone would keep the balloon in a desk drawer and get it out occasionally.

    I remember one evening when I was a kid, my dad saying he needed to bake some brownies for work…they were for the balloon’s birthday party. They had a lot of silly parties and my mom would always say they must not have enough work to do!

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      My mom made a whole bunch of scarf-bibs for herself and always had one in her purse for eating out. They were simple long rectangles with a slot toward one end so you could pull the other end through. They did pass as scarves! Made of an easy care microfiber in a pattern like animal or paisley that didn’t show food. I always laughed at them a little bit but who’s the one with oil stains all over her clothes? Me. She’s the smart one.

  39. No Tribble At All*

    The idea of a vegetable-themed baby shower is so strange and hilarious! Although whoever did asparagus — you monster. I already have to go to the bathroom 7,000 times a day and now it’ll smell even worse?? (This is a joke, and I’m using double question marks for comedic effect).

    1. Panicked*

      I just recently found out (after a lengthy and weirdly interesting conversation) that people fall into two categories 1. people that produce the asparagus pee smell and 2. people who don’t. BUT! People also fall into two other categories 1. People who can smell the asparagus pee and 2. people who don’t. SO, a person could have the pee smell producing gene and not realize it if they don’t have the pee smell recognizer gene! And vice versa!

      Genetics is fascinating (and I really pity those people in the clinical research study for that one…)!

      1. Cute As Cymraeg*

        Now THAT I never knew.

        The thing about asparagus and pee has bemused me for years, because I *love* asparagus but I’ve never noticed a difference when I go to the bathroom after. Now I’m going to wonder forever which gene I don’t have: the reacting one or the smelling one??

      2. Queer Earthling*

        Also sometimes the gene can kick in later! I remember once reading on a forum or something, a person mentioning it activating abruptly when they were in college. They’d spent the day wondering why every single public bathroom seemed to have some terrible smelling person in it, until they finally used a private bathroom and realized the stink was coming from inside the house, as it were.

  40. New Bethany*

    Years ago, someone acquired one of those ~4ft stuffed giraffes people use to decorate nurseries and preschools, brought it into the office and announced that it was “New Bethany” (“replacing” a coworker who was on vacation). They shared photos of her answering phone calls, attending meetings, and making coffee in the break room. They convinced the security team to give her a real (obviously inactive) employee badge, complete with a photo of the giraffe herself, and the name “New Bethany”. They registered the email She followed our team around through several office moves, and would wear costumes, hats, or boas when they appeared in the office for whatever reason. She even had a friend; at one point a small stuffed giraffe was brought in. She was named Lil Beth and given a guest badge, on the logic that she was clearly too young to be an employee.

    Original Bethany pretended to hate her usurper New Bethany, but she definitely loved her as much as the rest of us, if not more.

    1. You want stories, I got stories*

      I misread boas as bras, and really thought you team was doing some wild stuff.

  41. nora*

    At my last office, one of my coworkers would turn up one day in December and put Hershey kisses all over every cube in the department. We never knew when it would happen, you’d just walk in one day and they’d be there. I put a tiny knitted dinosaur over my nameplate so I could find my cube (the place was a bit of a maze) and he always got his own special snack too. The person responsible retired, sadly (for us). I left before the next holiday season so I don’t know if the tradition has outlived her.

  42. pagooey*

    A couple friends and I started “Secret Satans” at my first corporate job, almost 30 years ago: a Halloween gift exchange instead of Christmas, so the emphasis was more on candy and pranks than desirable gifts. People would wrap your cubicle in fake cobwebs, etc. Someone once tried a Seven Deadly Sins theme, xeroxed their target’s portrait from the company website, and wallpapered the entire office with Gladys’s headshot, for “vanity.” I introduced Secret Satans to two other companies over the years, and at my last job, this culminated in me arriving for work to find that my ergonomic desk chair had been replaced with A TOILET, courtesy of someone’s home remodel.

  43. Carly*

    The most underrated tradition in this list is definitely the new hire frog. Adorable and practical, 10/10

  44. TheGirlInTheAfternoon*

    This is hands-down my favorite non-advice post on the site. Delighted by these office space oddities!

  45. Pearl116*

    Micky the Space Cat!! :) I work at the SAO/CfA here in Cambridge (MA, not UK) and now I believe we also need a Space Cat!

  46. Zipperhead*

    Honestly, I always enjoy reading everything on this site, but this was the best thing in ages and ages. Maybe there could be a periodic post about Fun Workplace Traditions? Monthly, annually, twice-annually, however it’d fit in the scedule…

  47. Still an admin*

    I am in love with “You have the Shrimp”! This time next year we will have a new chair and I can only hope that that person will be less above it all than the current one. Fingers crossed!

  48. Addison DeWitt*

    Back in the dot com days, after work I went to Wiliams-Sonoma and bought a new waffle iron. Then on the subway ride home, I thought, how often am I going to make waffles? How can I amortize the cost of a $60 waffle maker over more wafflemaking opportunities?

    The Holiday season comes, we have our usual office party, most people were quite young (I said it was the dot com days) and let’s just say a lot of people are in pain the next morning. Suddenly they smell waffles. How can the office smell like waffles? They wander over to our area— and I have my waffle maker plugged into the same power strip as my computer, a tub of premade batter, some maple syrup, and a stack of paper plates and plastic forks. Anyone who wants a waffle, I’ll make them a fresh one. People basically reacted like Jesus Himself had come down to help with their hangover.

    I would show up with my waffle gear every once in a while, whenever times had been kind of tough and people could use something to cheer them up, which waffles most definitely did.

  49. KnightAsh*


    I would totally make an office blanket like this if asked

  50. hodie-hi*

    Small software startup in an unusual building where it was possible to stash boxes full of crumpled paper. We’d all sneak up on a birthday person and dump the crumpled paper onto them while yelling Happy Birthday.

  51. Bring the bibs*

    Adult bibs should be a thing everywhere. If only some celebrity would model the behavior and make it cool and then all of us could be using bibs and it would be wonderful.

  52. Ivana Tinkle*

    Ah the Team Plant one makes me sad for our old office plants. Years ago, someone had 2 plants on her desk, which were named Fernando and Princess Consuela. After she left, they passed to someone else, then through several owners as people came and went from the company. Then we were sent to WFH during 2020, and there was no-one there to water them so when we finally returned to the office 18 months later, sadly Fernando and Princess Consuela were little more than dead twigs in a dry pot. However, I recently learned that one of the previous owners took a cutting from one of the plants before she left, so Princess Consuela II lives on!

  53. BippityBoppityBogus*

    In one office I worked in, “getting buckeye-ed” was a frequent danger. A careful person could balance a handful or two of buckeye nuts along the inner lip of the door on our cubicle overhead cabinets. When the unsuspecting victim opened their cabinet again the next morning to buckeyes raining down all over their desk and making one heck of a racket. This happened to interns, new hires, and old timers alike. No one was safe!

  54. Jess*

    I love how wholesome these are! Such a good example of how “Enforced Fun!” in an office is never going to work well, but these kind of silly, helpful and *organic* fun traditions can be part of a genuinely good culture.

  55. Constable George Crabtree*

    I work in a nonprofit news org and we have a couple of morale-building traditions, but my favorite is Tea Time. A couple of my tea-loving coworkers started it last year, bringing in some homemade goodies and brewing a few pots of various themed or seasonally-appropriate teas one afternoon a month. At first just a handful of people rolled through and had a cup, but now the break room fills up with half the on-site staff hanging out together for an hour or so with tea and dessert. It’s how I’ve met a bunch of my coworkers in other departments, and it’s my favorite day of the month.

    1. Random Dice*

      Have you ever read Becky Chambers’ A Psalm for the Wild Built?

      It’s a solarpunk (feel good sci fi about people being kind and building better societies) novel about a tea monk, whose calling is to bike between towns and serve people tea and listen to them.

      It’s so simple and yet so damn touching.

  56. SoreThroat*

    I am now a fan of Mickey the Space Cat, but the knitting anecdote is the BEST!! Everyone should have that. Made me all warm and fuzzy.

  57. Tiger Snake*

    My office’s Build Breaker Trophy is a lego model of the White House. It has a music thing inside that plays the American anthem if you switch it on.

    I work in Australia.

    1. Real Tonald Drump*

      Tell me this started in 2016.
      We have the best White House. Biglier and whiter than any other. It’s yuge! We have the best anthem. It’s so loud it’ll knock your Lego brick house down.

  58. Lee*

    Building an office culture when the entire team is temote was a challenge, but we have our traditions.

    Fridays are Formal Fridays. Shirt and tie for the gents, business for the ladies. Except for the time one if my new hires was complaining about it and one woman showed up wearing a tie herself. Every once in a while we change it up with bow ties.

    One woman misheard me when saying we were having a daily huddle to go over taskers. She thought I said cuddle. So now in my calendar is a Daily Cuddle session every morning.

    Finally we have the nonmandatory coffee/tea/yogurt break twice a week for half an hour. Anyone welcome to drop into the Teams meeting and talk about non work subjects.

    1. allathian*

      My department (25 people) has a nonmandatory virtual coffee break on Monday and Wednesday mornings and Friday afternoons. They were very popular during the pandemic when all of us were remote every day, to the point that they set up breakout rooms, but now that we’re on a hybrid schedule, they’re much less popular.

    1. ConstantlyComic*

      I love the talking shrimp! It reminds me of my workplace Teams chat. One of my coworkers at the time (they were later promoted out of my branch) was trying to find a nonbinary shrug emoji, but searching for one on Teams gave them a shrimp instead. They used it anyway, and as a result, my whole workplace uses the shrimp emoji in place of a shrug

  59. Heffalump*

    I admit that this is only middling cool, but at OldJob, guys wore Hawaiian print shirts on Fridays.

  60. Jay (no, the other one)*

    The Formal Day reminded me of high school….I went to a very laid-back 1970s high school and the faculty pretty much always wore jeans. Every year there was a Faculty Dress-Up Day and the teachers would come in wearing everything from three-piece suits and wing-tips to formal ball gowns. The highlight was the shop teacher who was a 6’4″ former football lineman. He was good friends with the Home Ec teacher. She taught him to sew. He proudly sewed himself a bright orange suit complete with vest and shiny buttons and he wore it every year.

    1. Shrimp Emplaced*

      Now I wish he walked into the office that flash mobs new hires saying their favorite color is orange!!

  61. nnn*

    Are the poop emoji erasers related to the fact that all the lights are off, or are these two unrelated perks?

  62. Nurse Cat*

    I work in a cath lab, and there’s a specific cart with dilitation catheters called Takeru balloons. We call it our “Taco Cart.”

  63. Ashie*

    This has developed at my company over the last couple.of months… one guy unintentionally wore a Hawaiian shirt 2 Fridays in a row and someone noticed and did the same the next week and more and more people have been joining in. By now it’s spread across the entire company and even people in scrubs wear a Hawaiian shirt like a jacket over their uniform top.

  64. Deidre Barlow*

    I’ve worked in teams like this in the past – at one job we had Cake Fridays – everyone would put money into a cake kitty and one person would go to the bakery of their choice and return with enough cakes to stun an ox. it was wonderful.

    The team I work in now actively discourages any kind of bonding. so I doubt I’ll see anything like these lovely traditions whilst I work there.

  65. Dr Towers*

    Workplace cats are splendid things. Have a Google for Pebbles, Campus Cat at the University of Essex, another feline legend.

  66. Pixel*

    When I started this job, we had Beer Fridays — there was a beer fridge, people would bring in beer to share, and at 4:30 interested people would gather in the lounge area and hang out and drink beer. It was how I met the CEO, and how the CFO and I found out that we were from the same town (in a completely different state!) and that he had dated my babysitter. ;-)

    Sadly, when we moved to a different office, Beer Fridays went away and now I WFH anyway so any beer consumed by me on a Friday is a solo venture.

  67. Lady Knittington*

    This reminds me of biscuit boxing.
    Every Friday, two biscuits would go head to head with each other, for example digestives and garibaldis. Everyone would be invited to have one of each and vote for their favourite.

    The winner then came back the following Friday, for example garibaldis and lemon puffs.

    If people went abroad they’d buy biscuits, which would then be put up against their closest UK equivalent. It was quite bonkers and the thing I miss most about that office.

  68. Ally*

    This is great!! I’m borrowing the “new person frog” idea – what an easy but fun thing for the vibes

  69. RoseofFrance*

    I work in criminal law and whenever someone wins a case, one of their colleagues will send out a staff-wide e-mail: “Iphigenia won a SUPER-HARD llama-abuse case that Judge Butternut gave her hell on! Get her the pig!”* Everyone replies-all with congratulations, and it’s a really nice way to share the glory of victory, which can be hard to come by in this business.

    *”The pig” is a ceramic pig that the attorneys pass between each other when they win. I just learned that it’s *also* a piggy bank and everyone stuffs a dollar in before passing it along! It’s full now, so the attorneys are taking the office out for drinks next week! Long live the pig!

  70. JaneDough(not)*

    What a wonderful post! Thank you, Alison, and thank you, contributors. And may we all be lucky enough to work in offices with a bit of whimsy / with higher-ups who understand the value of a bit of whimsy.

  71. Regular Human Accountant*

    All of these stories almost make me miss working in an office. The shenanigans are what I miss most.

  72. Zeus*

    It was a bit before my time, so I heard it second hand, but during 2020 I joined a team that was working on the mechanism our government used to pay employers to help them keep their employees on during lockdowns. Apparently when they were first setting it up, it was a very stressful war-room-like environment in the bottom of the building. They were some of the few people who were allowed to go out to work during this time, and all normal workplace dress rules were out – people came in wearing whatever, shorts, dressing gowns, who cares?

    But then they’d have the occasional Formal Friday to break things up a bit, where people came in wearing the fanciest stuff they owned. Ball gowns, funeral suits, one guy looked like Willy Wonka. Apparently that helped.

  73. Flat Ashley*

    I worked at a broadcast TV station. When digging around in a closet, we found an old cardboard cut out of Simon Cowell that we would dress up and take to events. Sadly, a faux mustache severely damaged his paper face, so we decided to give him a new lease on life by printing a picture of the sales managers face. Whenever that manager was on vacation, Flat Tom would be left in his office silently supporting the sales people in his absence.

  74. Azure Jane Lunatic*

    A Silicon Valley place I know of has ritual dunkings (in a very shallow pond) for people who are going to get married.

    On one occasion, an immunocompromised future wedding participant who could not participate in the actual pond immersion portion of the program was walked to the shower in one of the buildings adjacent to the pond and soaked there, as a hygienic proxy.

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