‘Tis the Season…

…to be forced into buying crappy gifts for people just to fulfill an obligation. Fa la la la la la la la.

Before you get your Santa suit in a twist, let me say, I love giving someone a gift I know they will enjoy and appreciate. What I hate is spending time and money to buy something…anything…for an acquaintance, even though they will probably hate it, because it is part of a “fun” gift exchange or because they are getting me something so now I have to get them something, only to be filled with the satisfaction and joy that their inevitable look of poorly stifled disappointment brings:

Credit: fusepilates.com

Credit: fusepilates.com

That just warms your heart.

My gut reaction to that look is, “Okay, fuck you then. You get nothing!” Although, I don’t entirely blame them. They are trying. It is just very, very difficult to pull off the perfect ‘I don’t like this at all but I am going to look so genuinely excited and grateful that you can’t tell’ face. You have to be quick on your feet – if you show even a flash of disappointment before painting on a smile, it’s over. But, in your rush to show excitement and appreciation, be careful not to overdo it – that is also an immediate tell. Your level of excitement must be proportionate to the gift. If someone buys you an ugly pair of Christmas socks, you can’t use excitement to cover up your true feelings. Saying, “Yes, socks! I can’t believe it, I love love love these, OMG this is amazing! I have to Instagram these right now,” could only be perceived as sarcasm.

Yes, there is a lot of thought and skill that goes into pulling off the perfect fake response. I myself can’t do it. I fight a constant battle between not wanting to be rude and not wanting to lie, and this internal conflict manifests in my face. The attempted smile is always pulled back by the ‘Yeah, I don’t want this crap’ face and it ends up looking like this:

Photo credit: amorsthoughts.wordpress.com

Photo credit: amorsthoughts.wordpress.com

How about, instead of buying each other shit we don’t want… we do nothing! Let’s just exchange season’s greetings and call it a day. How about you take the money you were going to spend on me, and buy something you actually want, and I’ll take my money, and buy what I want, which I’ve actually been doing all year, because I am self-sufficient and don’t depend on casual acquaintances to buy me things.

Some might argue that a gift card is a way around the gift exchange dilemma. But at that point, why bother? A gift card is almost like giving someone cash, but with the caveat that they can only spend it where you say so. So it is actually worse than giving someone cash because at best, you’ve exchanged bills out of your wallet, and at worst, you’ve exchanged those bills for a plastic card that you can’t use.

A friend of mine was forced into a gift exchange at work, specifically a gift card exchange.  I consider this to be the height of stupid. They are literally going to stand in a circle and trade $25. Why is that fun? “You’ll never guess what I got at work today – after paying $25, I got $25 back!” You don’t even get to unwrap it, and we all know that is half the fun of presents. I did a lot of online shopping for myself last week and I’m very seriously considering wrapping that stuff up just to open it Christmas morning. Maybe taking this gamble with a gift card exchange is fun in the way that Russian Roulette is fun, but instead of not getting shot in the head, your rush of adrenaline comes from not getting the Olive Garden gift card.

Photo credit: knowyourmeme.com

Photo credit: knowyourmeme.com

 

Four Fun Activities for Your First Day in Solitary

I recently watched the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black and really enjoyed it. But, as is the case with most TV shows I watch, I left with a list of “give me a break” moments. One of them had to do with *mini spoiler alert* Piper getting put in solitary confinement, for like, a day. If that.

Now I don’t want to trivialize how awful that must be, having never been in solitary myself, but I feel like she overreacted. I have no doubt that solitary will drive you mad…eventually. But she was panicked, hysterical, and hallucinating pretty much immediately.

I mean look at her. Her first order of business was to sit on the floor and feel sorry for herself. There are so many things she could have done to occupy herself before resigning to hopelessness. She didn’t try at all!

For example, I can think of one thing most people do that kills 6-8 hours every day and it doesn’t require too much space: sleep! Take a fucking nap, Piper! You probably won’t notice you are in solitary if your eyes are closed and you are unconscious.

Not tired? Do a bunch of jumping jacks, push-ups, and squat thrusts until you get tired! Then sleep. Then repeat. You will kill loads of time, improve your mood by generating endorphins, and burn a ton of calories. It’s win-win-win.

Feeling lonely? Try talking to one of your neighbors. You could play 20 Questions or Would You Rather. Not within earshot of another human being? Seize this unique opportunity! I feel like I rarely have the privacy required for one of my favorite hobbies – singing and dancing like nobody’s watching! Belt out your favorite songs and have a dance party. Once again, your mood will be drastically improved, you will burn major calories, and you will be primed for another great nap.

Starting to get stressed out? Take some deep breaths, do some yoga, meditate. Think of solitary as a retreat. People pay good money to sit in silence for days at a time so they can just “allow themselves to BE.” You get to do it on the taxpayers’ dollar. Take advantage of this opportunity for introspection and self-reflection. You could use it, Piper, because you are kind of a bad person.

I think Piper’s dramatics bothered me so much because she could have done all the things I wish I could do at work every day. In theory you have the freedom to leave when you feel the walls closing in on you at work — which of course you don’t in solitary — but the catch of having a job is that you have to show up to keep it. So you may find yourself similarly confined to a small space for long periods of time. The unfortunate difference is, in solitary, you can do whatever the hell you want. Last time I checked you couldn’t take a nap, lay down into corpse pose, or belt out your favorite tunes at your desk. If anyone should be losing their mind, it’s us poor working stiffs.

Idiot of the Week: Think Before You Reply (All)

quickmeme.com

quickmeme.com

A belated congratulations to Jen and Gabi for their stellar additions to the Idiot of the Week Blog Hop. I can’t seem to keep up with the demands of a weekly blog hop, so for now I am returning to the old-fashioned approach of complaining about idiots at my leisure.

The most recent idiots to catch my eye did so literally, by sending 13 emails within one minute of each other. Reply All strikes again. It is a great invention, but in the wrong hands, it can only spell disaster. I’m not talking about the accidental use of reply all, where you send that, “Can you believe this guy, what a jackass” email to your whole office. That’s hilarious. (Unless it happens to you, in which case it is a total gut punch.)

No, I’m talking about the nitwits who intentionally reply all for the dumbest and most irrelevant shit imaginable. Have some discretion, for the love of God! Just ask yourself, “Is there any reason whatsoever that I need to share this with my entire office, or is it really only applicable to one person?” It’s that simple.

In my office, if someone will be out sick, a manager will email the whole team with this information. But then every Tom, Dick, and Harry feels the need to reply all with their well wishes.
“Get better soon, Frank!”
“Drink lots of fluids!”
“Aww, no fun! Feel better!”

Why does this call for reply all? I’m not the one who is sick, so why do I need to know what Bob’s advice for Frank is? Why do I need to see if Tom wants Frank to get better or not? I don’t! Leave my inbox alone! It’s not like we all need to be updated on what advice has already been dispensed. Hmm, well, Bob already told Frank to drink water, so maybe I’ll suggest tea specifically, or I could remind him not to play outside in the cold…

I was starting to wonder if I was the only person in the world who understood how to use reply all correctly when something happened that restored my faith in humanity.

I received a mass email from a woman I did not know asking if the meeting was still on for today. I was about to reply to her (just her) to let her know she had the wrong person when someone beat me to it. And someone else. And someone else. Eventually people stopped explaining and would just say ‘ditto.’ I think she gets it by now! No need for us ALL to do a roll call and confirm that she included not a single correct email. She probably just typed in the wrong group name and is now realizing it. I doubt she hand-entered 30 emails for a phantom meeting we all had nothing to do with. Use your heads!

One minute and thirteen reply all emails later, I was ready to throw my computer out the window when the 14th reply all said, “There is no need to reply all.” Then a 15th person replied all, one of the higher ups, saying, “Everyone—please STOP replying to all. Just delete the message.” Based on the font size and color, I really took this last email to say, “You are all so fucking stupid it makes me want to die. Please, STOP replying all like a pack of raging morons, just delete the message and get on with your lives. UGH!”

I was so excited I wanted to run down to his office and scream and pull my hair like he was one of the Beatles.

American screaming Beatles fansI almost replied all saying, “THANK YOU! You are my hero!” but I thought that would undermine the point. So out of solidarity, I said nothing.

Then a 16th person replied all, with the final word on the issue. “Will there be donuts at this meeting?”

And there you have it. My palm was restored to my face, and my faith in humanity…