Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Shield of Protection from Office Politics +10

I'm at LochHart, home to lady_anne and level_head at the moment. I had a wonderful time in Las Vegas over the weekend, and just said farewell to kelloggs2066 this morning. In a few hours, we'll be saying hello to oceansedge, frostbyt3 and feychildthe. But it's fairly quiet here at the moment, and I decided to steal a few minutes to finish an entry I started on Thursday, before the trip.

I am immune to office politics at Toddler Bank. In my youth, I was somewhat more susceptible to them; I'm not sure just how I became innoculated against office politics. I think it's a combination of general obliviousness and amiablity. More obliviousness than anything else. Politics? What politics?

In my department, even back when it was Baby Bank, we've always done some sort of celebration, nominally in honor of employee birthdays. exactly what this entails has varied widely. And it's always been a source of politics. At Baby Bank, we signed up for a $1.50 garnished per paycheck, and paid for party things out of that. When I started, we paid for lunches once a month for everyone in the pool. Whoever had a birthday that month would pick the food. This became a source of bitterness, because some people felt like they were always the ones organizing and bringing the food, plus some people picked more expensive dishes than others, and not everyone would like the same food, and some people didn't like sharing their birthday month, &etc.

I suggested that, instead of whole meals (involving restaurants and/or trying to keep food hot) we just have a dessert brought in on each individual's birthday. The birthday person would pick the dessert, and the person whose birthday was immediately before it would purchase and bring it, and be reimbursed through the birthday account. We adopted it, and it worked out fairly well. Some people were still bitter about people picking "expensive" desserts, but the account always had plenty of funds and everyone got to eat and enjoy the desserts that were chosen.

Oh, I forgot to mention the politics involved in who contributed to the birthday account. There was resentment from those who didn't contribute that we did it at all, and resentment from those who did contribute if they saw someone who didn't eating the food.

In any case, this went away with the merger. Toddler Bank's tradition was to "snack foods every month", brought from home by everyone but the birthday kids. The connection between "celebration" and "birthday" under this arrangement is fairly slender, but OK.

This evolved into "lunch foods brought from home", organized by a couple of employees who'd pick a theme. I tended to ignore the theme. I bake cookies. It's what I do. Everyone likes cookies, right?

Anyway, at the last department meeting, the employees who'd been doing it for the last six months announced their shift was up, and that two other people needed to volunteer for the next six months. I and another woman volunteered, after it was described to us as "easy: just pick a day and a theme and send an email and a sign-up sheet."

I've never understood the "theme" thing. I suggested we ask the people who had August birthdays what they wanted.

They wanted barbecue.

How do we bring barbecue from home? I don't even like barbecue, so I ask my partner. She doesn't like barbecue either. "Howabout we order it from a restaurant and have people chip in to pay for it?" I offered.

My partner replied, "I think a lot of people don't like that, because they feel like they don't get their money's worth -- some people will eat a lot more than others."

Fair enough. "Well, the birthday kids suggested it. Let's ask them how they thought we could do it."

Their reply: "Let's order it from a restaurant. It'll be $8 per person."

Wow, $8 is a lot for a take-out lunch. We poll the department to find out who's interested in contributing. I send the message on to one of the customer service reps because I know she's taken part before. Another employee forwards the message on to the teller line. I didn't know the tellers were involved in these things, but I don't see how this is a problem. At this point, everyone on the first floor has been notified except for the branch manager and her assistant. My partner comes out to me when she sees the message and says to me, in a hushed, alarmed voice, "Did you see that? I didn't know the tellers were involved."

"Me either."

"But the branch managers not on there, or her assistant. Ooo, they're gonna be pissed."

"So we'll let them know. We're not doing it for another couple of weeks anyway."

"But did you see they're not on there?"

At this point, we'd gotten eight or nine people who expressed interest in the barbecue, which seemed like enough to justify the choice to me. I volunteer to send the email making it the official pick and telling people to give money to my partner, since I would be on vacation the next week. My partner is happy enough to have me do this ("I think people respond better to your emails").

And I send the email to the entire first floor, along with a caveat of "And if there's anyone on the first floor that I missed, please let them know they're welcome to participate."

The branch manager sent me back a note: "Thank you so much for inviting us. I'll be sure to get you the money."

It seems bizarre to me that this would be such an issue. All of it, really. It's like those little things that are too inconsequential to be worth making an issue of, so you never make an issue of it, and it keeps annoying you more and more because it's still happening because you never said it bothered you ... It's as if the more minor some irritation is, the more irritating it becomes.

I don't know if there's a reason why the branch manager and her assistant were particularly excluded. They seem like nice enough people to me. I'll just include everyone on the floor for the next five months until our shift is up. If anyone has a problem with that, well, they can come tell me straight out. I'm not good with hints. I'm not good at understanding office politics, either. But that's all right. I think it works better to ignore them anyway.

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