I certain can’t beat the basic “I obtained you a jar of mildew” story, however one Christmas present trade remains to be making me cringe practically a decade later. I used to be a part of a really small crew of individuals employed on the identical time at a fairly tight-knit, high-profile small firm, as a part of a brand new division. We had been overtly excluded from the veterans and the in-crowd, crammed collectively on a special flooring from everybody else within the firm — we needed to awkwardly invade our co-workers’ workplace house upstairs if we needed to get to know anybody. My direct boss, additionally a brand new rent, was additionally extremely sensitive about us spending time with the unique workers, particularly his boss, out of a concern that we’d make private connections on the firm that lower him out. We had been all the time nervous that our division could be lower each as a result of it was a brand new addition and since we had been so remoted and out-of-mind for everybody else.
Our Christmas social gathering was a typical White Elephant swap the place many of the items had been enjoyably goofy issues. Somebody, we’ll name him Fergus, obtained a didgeridoo, of all issues, with somewhat DVD instruction handbook explaining methods to play it. I believed that was a enjoyable factor — I’d by no means seen one in particular person. So when my flip to open a present and swap got here up, I requested for the didgeridoo and Fergus handed it over with out remark. All’s truthful in love and White Elephants, proper?
Besides after the present trade, the workplace cranked the music and introduced out the booze, and an hour later, I overheard my boss’s boss and one other worker bitterly complaining about how SELFISH I used to be, how I had NO RIGHT to take the didgeridoo from Fergus, who REALLY WANTED IT and was SO DISAPPOINTED AND HURT, and the way might I POSSIBLY be so callous and trigger such a rift within the firm. I awkwardly stated I had no thought Fergus actually needed the didgeridoo and that I’d be glad to offer it up, and… they only didn’t reply in any respect. Didn’t take a look at me, didn’t say something, continued complaining. I used to be so embarrassed that I simply left.
Now, with hindsight, I ponder if the mixture of booze, background music, and them being caught up of their complaints meant they only didn’t hear me, however on the time, I used to be optimistic they had been simply ignoring me out of spite. I used to be mortified, harm, and nervous that I’d made the social hole between our divisions worse. Clearly I didn’t be taught to play the didgeridoo after that. It sat forlornly in my front room, silently speaking “Nicely, was it value it, you monster?” till we moved seven years later, and it went to Goodwill. I hope whoever ended up with it could actually get pleasure from it with a humiliation-free conscience.