As many people wiser than I am have noted, life is just high school with more money. Well, more respect as well, especially for unorthodox attitudes about social proprieties. Take my word for it: a 17-year-old attempting a few practical jokes during a major holiday usually gets slapped down, expelled, or even deported. Add 30 years to the date and give that kid access to better resources, and all anyone wants to do is tell family and friends “Can you believe what the old guy in Engineering did last night?” The spirit of Tezcatlipoca runs strong this time of the year, especially when among people with the same priorities.
A case in point: at my day job, my department has had a longrunning tradition concerning holiday presents. Namely, we’re serious about the present itself, because we all honestly respect each other and enjoy each others’ conversations. It’s just the presentation that makes everyone outside our circle worry for the future. Since 2007, our prerogative is to find an appropriate gift and then wrap it with the tackiest, most disturbing wrapping paper we can find. That definition of “most disturbing” gives me a lot more headway, as my co-workers have teenage daughters, and I’m constantly being told, over and over, abut the latest TV show or musical artist to capture their fancy. Most of the time, I shudder with them: the only thing worse than being a preteen in the days of Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett was hitting my teen years just in time for Phil Collins. With Christmas approaching, though, the gloves are off, and the local Target store keeps giving me rolls and rolls of brass knuckles.
As I’ve related before, everyone has to understand that it’s entirely possible to go overboard with a quick comment or action in the workplace. This is how I ended up with an FBI record for allegedly selling government secrets to the Daleks. This is why, when getting my boss a model of the Apollo 11 command module and Lunar Excursion Module, I practically oozed subtlety and restraint:
Not that I could say the same thing for my other co-worker. You see, his birthday is in December, so it just made sense that I focus on giving him a birthday present that he’d remember forever. Oh, he’ll remember it, the way he’ll remember the chipped teeth he got when his jaw hit the floor:
As I told him, “Just be glad Target was out of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic bows.” That probably would have left him catatonic with horror. It’s Christmas: there’s no reason to be mean.
It’s also time to keep up longrunning traditions. For years, I’ve kept a big candy box at my desk, with the contents being open season to everyone on my floor. With a new candy dispenser, it just needed a touch of festiveness to really make you feel like the season is here. Sing it with me: “It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…”