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Not-So-Secret Scrooge

, , , , , | Working | December 24, 2021

I did a Secret Santa at work a few years back. Most put a lot of effort into it, trying to get their person something nice, but clearly, a few people just did the minimum. Some clearly didn’t spend the amount they were supposed to. The worst was mine: I got a cheap mug with, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee,” written on it, despite it being well known in the office that I don’t drink coffee. It felt like a cheap shot and low effort.

The following year, I declined, and it happened again; there were a few crappy presents (of course) and one really cheap one.

The next year, everyone was reminded that it was a £10 gift, and no one was being forced to participate if they couldn’t afford to or didn’t want to. But it happened again. This gift clearly had the £2.99 price tag from a charity shop still attached. Everyone was annoyed. I think someone gave up their present to the person who got the dud.

This year, we hear that Secret Santa will not go ahead. Then, after some petitioning from some, it is back on but with a warning that anyone caught intentionally not following the spirit of the event will face consequences.

I decide to give it another go. My giftee loves a certain rock band. I find a bargain signed poster that just needs reframing. He is going to love it.

Close to Christmas, everyone goes to the big meeting room. There is a pile of presents and the manager starts handing them out. We get about two-thirds through the names when I’m called up. I open my present to find a big box of chocolates — a little boring, but whatever. I open them up to try them only to find a bar of soap inside.

Me: “I don’t get it.”

Coworker #1: “Is everything okay?”

Me: “It’s a bar of soap and some empty wrappers.”

Coworker #1: “Maybe there has been a mixup?”

Manager: “What’s going on?”

Coworker #1: “[My Name] got an empty box of chocolates.”

Manager: “Okay. Just in case there has been some genuine mistake, please, can whoever bought this come forward? I’m sure you will want to swap it for the real present.”

No one comes forward.

Manager: “Perhaps you will want to apologise? And give [My Name] the £10 at a later date, instead?”

No one moves. A couple of people seem to think this is hilarious

Manager: *Sighs* “Okay, fine. Can everyone go and stand by the person you bought for?”

With some complaining, everyone eventually stands by someone. Only [Coworker #2], one of the younger guys in the office, stands alone.

Manager: “[Coworker #2]?”

Coworker #2: “What? It was funny.”

Manager: “No one forced you to join in.”

Coworker #2: “I know! But it was funny. You should have seen your face when you opened that box expecting chocolate.” *Mocking me* “‘Oh, I don’t understand.’”

Manager: “A word, now.”

It’s pretty awkward after that. The manager doesn’t come back for ages. We decide to keep handing out presents. We eventually head back to our desks; [Coworker #2] is sulking at his.

The Christmas party is later that day. I go to find no [Coworker #2]. He always shows up to get as drunk as possible.

Manager: “I couldn’t write [Coworker #2] up; he didn’t really break any of the rules. But I did make sure he knew he wouldn’t be welcome here tonight. And if he’s not here, I suppose someone has to have his share of the drinks.”

I drank my free drinks and [Coworker #2]’s, and a few other people gave me theirs, too. We had a great night, especially without [Coworker #2] there. He was pretty unpopular for a while.

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