Tag Archives: life

The Correct Way to Work a Holiday Gift Exchange

Tonight is our work holiday party, complete with yankee swap gift exchange. In honor of this tradition, I thought I would reuse this blog post from a few years back, which basically sums up my priorities and my wisdom in one anecdote.

Originally posted on Dec 14, 2011.

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Alternate title: My Shameful, Gleeful Secret.

Despite knowing about my work holiday party, and the “yankee swap” type gift exchange, I didn’t remember to buy a gift until the day of the party. (Also despite browsing at Macy’s over the weekend, picking things up and wondering if they were appropriate for a holiday gift exchange.)

On my lunch break I ran to Target to pick up some boring stuff and also look for a gift. On the drive there I decided to buy a book, because I’ve talked about books with several other people here, and I thought that would be a nice diversion from the numerous bottles of wine that I was sure would be there.

I looked through the book section, but there wasn’t really much of interest. There was a wall of trashy teen romance, a wall of trashy adult romance, a wall of trashy thriller/suspense…and then I saw a single copy of Stephen King’s recent collection of novellas: Full Dark, No Stars.

I know of at least two other people in the office who like Stephen King, and he’s pretty mainstream, so I thought it would be a better gift than, you know, Twilight or The Chocolate Cat Caper or something like that. (Although, I also thought about getting Dollhouse, the book “written” by the three Kardashians.)

So I bought the book and wrapped it in a little bag, and told no one except Jonathan what it was. I deposited it under the tree at the holiday party and waited for the gift exchange to begin.

Soon I started feeling like I needed to leave the party soon – later that night Drew, Erin and I were going to a screening of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – and for a minute or two I wondered if I could get the present back out the door if I left before we started the swap.

But then we all settled down and the fun began, and I’m glad I stayed, because it was super fun. The entire thing (there were around 30 people participating) took about 90 minutes.

I was number 26 in the lineup and I had decided I wouldn’t just select my own gift, even though Full Dark, No Stars was one of the few Stephen King books I didn’t own. When my turn came, I stole a set of balsamic vinegar and olive oil from someone else, and I was very happy with that steal. After all, I could always go back to Target and buy another copy of the book.

In a few more turns, a girl sitting next to me selected my gift, and once she’d unwrapped it, she looked less than enthusiastic. No one seemed to want to steal it either. Perhaps I had completely misjudged this group – and neither of the people who I know like Stephen King were at the party.

In another few turns, the hostess of the party stole my balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and I made a snap decision to steal Full Dark, No Stars. Which I did. That girl opened another present and seemed much happier with it. No one stole the book from me after that.

When I got home, I told Drew the whole story and then displayed the book, and he said, “Well, I guess that worked out perfectly.”

And it did.

Merry Christmas!

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Filed under Awesome, Books, Holidays, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Work

Exhibiting bad manners in public

I arrived at the BART station yesterday morning and walked casually down the platform. I was just approaching one of the pre-walking marks on the ground when I noticed something strange. Looking up and down the platform, I saw single-file lines, with maybe 3 or 4 feet between each person, lined up in front of where the train doors would land. The people in these lines were reading newspapers, or looking at their phones.

Standing near the edge of the platform, I kept studying the lines. When did this happen?

I texted Drew: “Is it a bart manners thing to line up single file to wait for the train? Everyone is doing it here but I’ve never seen that before. Can I just stand near where the door will be or do I have to line up?”

He wrote back: “Yeah, it’s the opposite of the NY cluster.”

That’s what I’m used to…people pushing and shoving to get through the doors first. That’s what I’m comfortable with. Is that sick?

I said: “But…a single file line? I don’t like it. =( And now I realize I’ve been that beezy cutting lines the whole time?”

Then he called me a NY a-hole and I laughed out loud, and the train came, and while I didn’t push and shove to get on, I definitely didn’t wait for the line to go first, and then I camped out near the doors. So I’m definitely that bad-manners BART person who you glare at during your morning commute. Sorry about that! It’s been mostly inadvertent up until now.

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Filed under "Other people", Drew, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Travel, Work