Hey Big Daddy,
With Halloween only days away and Christmas and Hanukkah around the corner, I’m in the uncomfortable position, as office manager, of determining whether or not employees will be allowed to hang holiday decorations in their cubicles this year. Last Christmas, our human resources division received a complaint from an employee who does not celebrate Christmas and was offended by a miniature Christmas tree that one of her colleagues put in her cubicle.
Choosing the path of least resistance, HR asked her to remove the tree and all other decorations were subsequently removed. Not surprisingly, it was bad for morale and I felt like the Grinch. The employee who filed the complaint no longer works here, and we’ve yet to decide what to do this year. But employees are already asking if they can have a Christmas party in December and what the rules will be. It seems like harmless fun to me, but it’s not worth a lawsuit.
What do you suggest?
-Nervous in North San Juan
Some of the most dangerous people in society are those whose depth of
knowledge about constitutional law and the rights of man were gleaned from
reruns of People’s Court and Judge Judy. Their moral indignation against
fake fir trees with ornaments runs about as deep as the Marianas Trench.
They live their lives under a black cloud of their own making, lost in the
delusion that “the man” is out to get them, society doesn’t accept them, and
they would be Donald Trump’s peer today if not for the fact that some
gender-biased, religious zealot hadn’t held them back from reaching their
true potential years ago. Some are dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who
complain about job-killing Democratic lefties who weep for welfare
recipients and oppose President Bush. Some are true-blue Democrats who blame
Republican big-business for everything from tooth decay to traffic jams.
You know who I’m talking about. The woman who takes her rightful 10-minute
break every hour so she can smoke a cigarette and read another chapter in
her dime-store novel. Ask her why she hasn’t been promoted and she’ll tell
you her boss is sexist. Her hair is flat from that glass ceiling she keeps
bumping up against.
Or the man complains to HR that his boss is racist for promoting someone of
a different ethnicity instead of him. He’ll argue at the water cooler that
Columbus Day shouldn’t be on the calendar but sneaks out of work a little
early on St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo. Then, there’s the transgender
male who is shunned by his female co-workers because he insists on using the
ladies room (and leaving the seat up when he’s done).
A few years back, a state agency in Sacramento took political correctness to
such absurd lengths that the words “female” and “lady” were added to a
list-along with the words “broad” and “babe”-of offensive references toward
women. So according to the politically correct police, Jerry Lewis is
officially as offensive as Andrew Dice Clay.
I understand your workplace dilemma, but it is largely one of your own
making. Not because you allowed the snowflakes cut from coffee filters to
be hung on your office windows but because you let a holiday naysayer get
the best of you.
Some of us are, or have been, lucky enough to have jobs we love in
professions that seem more like a hobby. But for a lot of people, a job is
work. They spend too much time commuting to and from the office. Too much
time away from their families. Too much time trying meet impossible
deadlines for distant corporate bosses who think creativity and efficiency
are mutually exclusive.
Your office holiday party this season should be a reflection of your office
as a whole-not of the one guy who’s mad at the world and wants you to be mad
too. Be sensitive to others concerns, but don’t cave to the holiday
humbugs. Besides, everyone-regardless of religious, ethnic or gender
barriers-eats the Christmas cookies in the break room. So maybe that should
be the new office standard. Don’t want to celebrate Chanukah? Then don’t
eat the rugulah.