I wish they would just add it to the list of mandatory withdrawals: federal tax, state tax, social security tax, Medicare tax and the office party tax. It would be easier that way. They should just do an automatic bank draft for these office parties before I ever even see the money. In fact, they should also hire someone to manage the office parties. If my corporate division has at least one per week, there must be at least thirty parties in the building per day. “Hi, I’m Buffy the Office Party Coordinator. I get paid to buy chips and paper cups! So what did you bring for today’s office party?” She would definitely have job security here.

As if there was a red bulls-eye on the delete key, I professionally pound it with my index finger. I delete the office party e-mails. I conclude I’m not the only one doing this because the e-mails have changed from, “If you’d like to participate in the baby shower for…” to “The following is a list of what each of you should bring for Friday’s office party. If you disagree, please let me know.”

I’m paranoid. I think they suspect me now. I concede I’m no Martha Stewart as I’ve only been signed up for paper plates, cups and cookies for the last three office parties. Regardless, if I were writing the e-mails, I think I’d be more candid. “If you’d like to be a social outcast and excluded from the morning cubicle gossip session, please delete this e-mail now. Even though you don’t know this person very well, we’d really like you to bring your assigned item. For those of you that feel it necessary to wait until the last minute and stop at the store on your way to work, please buy something that has a name brand on it. We notice these things. Also, don’t forget to spend at least $30.00 for your gift item. We’re really trying to find some sense of sociability and sanity here, even if only momentarily. We would appreciate your cooperation. Yes, we can be bought, so the bigger and tastier, the better. Finally, if you’d like us to speak to you again, you’re invited to mandatorily participate, but it’s up to you of course.”

Not wanting to be insensitive or unsociable, I’ve always participated, even if at the last minute because I usually forgot about the office party until the next day. I always remembered when I would see the mail cart going by my cubicle packed with gifts and crock-pots. There it goes again now. I roll my eyes in frustration. I forgot yet again. I quickly take a 15-minute break and walk a few blocks to the bank and then another block to a Quick Stop Market. If only the choices of snacks were as plentiful as the cigarette choices. I finally found some cookies on the bottom shelf in the back. There was one small package of Oreo’s and one package of Nutter Butter biscuits. Yes, just one of each, costing $4.69 per package. There’s no way I’m paying that for three and a half stale cookies. I was desperate but not that desperate. Not only were they ridiculously overpriced, but they also looked as if they had been underneath the seat of the delivery truck for at least six months! Did they play soccer with them before they decided to put them on the shelf? Bringing those back would have made me the peasant girl on the level of office party hierarchy. I decided to take twenty minutes and walk a few more blocks to Buehler’s Market. I didn’t let the handwritten “Fresh Pork Butt” sign scare me. This could not be any worse than the previous experience. I walked in with $20.00 in my pocket. I passed the pork butt and eventually found the snack aisle. I loaded my arms with an assortment of pre-packaged snack cakes. With six or seven boxes in my arms, I hurried to the check-out lane. I was running out of time. “Your total is $6.66,” said the cashier. “Oh, that’s nice,” I reply. “Is that the kind of morning you’ve been having?” she asked. I just smiled and thought, no, it really hasn’t been that bad. I returned carrying my bag full of social restitution. I met the mail cart in the elevator on its way to the conference room. I dumped the bag out into the cart. “Oh Holly, you didn’t have to do all that!” said Buffy, I mean the girl with the cart. I didn’t? Was this voluntary? I open my lips to comment, but the elevator doors open and my wit followed the snack cakes. I hope I’m not here before I have another birthday, a baby, or decide to become Jewish or before Earth Day or National Hug Day. Why do I forget so much? Why do I care if I forget? I guess I need to start putting money aside for these parties. No, maybe I need to start saving e-mails and memory cells instead. I voluntarily mandate that the office party be taken just a little less seriously.


This essay comes from the book A Creative Spirit in Corporate Hell: The Lunch Hour Chronicles by Holly Abernathy.

creative spirit in corporate hell - book cover

A Creative Spirit In Corporate Hell: The Lunch Hour Chronicles is a witty, humorous and insightful journey through one woman’s view of corporate America as told in a series of short essays written on her lunch breaks. Born out of a desire to express the frustration of working in the corporate world, writing during those hour-long breaks became a method of coping with the sometimes mundane worklife of a  “synergized, hard-stopping, thinks outside of the box” corporate “desk jockey.” 

Each essay perceptively addresses issues easily identifiable to anyone working in a corporate setting. Not only does the book address the frustration of corporate life, it also touches candidly on the stress placed upon employees and their personal lives. It can be a powerful tool for companies seeking to improve morale among their employees, and management can benefit from understanding the intricacies of the frustration people feel within the corporate world.

This book is for anyone who works in corporate America as well as students who plan to gain employment in that environment. There is also the potential to market the book to both national and international corporations seeking to strengthen employee relations and workplace culture.

Of course, if you work in corporate America and want nothing more than a good laugh and material you can certainly relate to, read A Creative Spirit In Corporate Hell: The Lunch Hour Chronicles. You’ll walk away entertained and hopefully find some unexpected insight along the way. 

For more information on A Creative Spirit In Corporate Hell: The Lunch Hour Chronicles and its release date, visit the author website at www.6qCreative.com.