Let Them Eat Cake

I heard rumor of this two hour meeting wherein the managers and directors went back and forth about how we should celebrate birthdays and anniversaries in the office. Finally, after going around and around about it, they decided that every staff person would get a card at the monthly staff meeting and there would be one cake or cupcakes for all the birthdays in that month at that meeting. No special parties for particularly popular staff members. No individual celebrations involving sweets and singing within departments. They wanted it to be fair.

Shortly after this decision was reached, my birthday happened. I spent the entire day wondering what the hell was going on because I got nothing- no card, no cake, no singing. As an Aries and an egomaniac in the making, this did not sit well with me. Around 4:30pm, my supervisor came by my office and gave me a small gift and card from her. By that point I was over it and ready to leave to celebrate with my “real friends.”

I later found out about the executive level decision. A decision that has never been made public to the entire office. A decision that is NOT being followed. The best part? The department that consistently has cake and singing and little parties in their office without inviting anyone in the office? The Administration Department!


They don’t even close the door when they have their party! They laugh and joke and sing off key while letting the smell of the cake waft into the cubicles without inviting anyone outside of their department. Soon after they’ve demolished the cake, they send out an email inviting us to dine on their leftovers which they will graciously (snort!) be left in the mail room.

I’m long since over the fact that I got the birthday shaft but seriously, this is complete bullshit. It’s a running joke among my coworkers- hey, whose birthday is next in Admin? At this point we’re placing bets on how much time it will take between the festivities and the email announcing left over cake. It is just salt in the proverbial wound that the department who breaks “the rule” is the very department in charge of the administration of the agency.

I think I will throw myself a big birthday bash in my cubicle but only invite the people in my department. I think I’ll even bring booze. That’ll show ’em.

Does anything like this happen at your work?

45 thoughts on “Let Them Eat Cake

  1. My company *officially* has that rule, but it gets totally ignored for the popular people in the office. Our HR dept. is across the country in NYC, however, and our VP refuses to celebrate or even acknowledge his own birthdays, so at least there’s no abuse of power going on. I just feel sad for the not-well-liked staff members who get nothing more than the monthly group birthday cake.

    Truthfully, I think it’s a good rule *IF* it’s enforced and followed. Less hurt feelings that way.

  2. We do birthday cards with typically a coffee gift card (or a gift certificate to Powell’s if the person isn’t a coffee drinker) for every person in our office.

    But cake-smell wafting in from another department when the management made the decision to have birthdays celebrated universally? Not awesome.

  3. Dude, what industry are you in? I want to join a field that’s discussing birthday party ettiquette instead of buyouts. For rizzeal!

  4. In my building, each department is separate, so everyone does their own thing. My group does cake, no singing. And we are consistent with everyone’s b-day.

    Definitely throw your own bash. Or the next time the other group has a little party, someone needs to crank up the “You say it’s your birthday, it’s my birthday too yeah”.

  5. LOL at them singing loudly and off key!

    That happened in my old job. In fact I worked in a single unit, but the unit was spread over two offices, down the hall from each other. The people in my office would have a party and invite the whole unit. The people in the other office would have their own private party and rarely would my office get an invite. I think it was because most of them didn’t like a couple of the bosses but still it was weird.

    I’m sorry you got the birthday shaft! I hope you made up for it later that night?

  6. I’m an Aries too and I totally hear ya – I would be pissed.

    Did they change it from being work-sponsored to just being bring-your-own-cake? Because if that’s the case, you should definitely go all out come March/April. Show those Admin basties they mess with the Ram, they’re gonna get the horns.

  7. My team is made up of over 100 people spread out all over the country. At my location, there are over 20,000 people in our company headquarters. Yeah, we don’t celebrate everyone’s birthday or anniversary.

    I bring my own cupcakes to celebrate my birthday when it comes. And my boss hates his birthday (I don’t know why…he won’t tell me!), so I just give him beer when I realize it’s occurred.

    We’re boring around here. πŸ˜‰

  8. Office politics eh? We have a battle over the admin. suite photocopier. “No, you can’t use it.” “Well, then you can tell the CEO that he won’t have the stuff for the press conference.” Cooperation my ass.

    Shit like this makes me mental.

  9. oh man. we had this exact problem at my office, wherein I had to go round and round with my business partner about how to handle birthdays as we got bigger (because literally it was getting out of hand, people were left out etc.) We ended up deciding exactly what your office did, were there was a card per person and a once a month treat for all the birthdays of the month. BUT!!! here’s where we did not fuck up, we ANNOUNCED IT.

  10. Well, I work at a place where we get spoiled rotten on birthdays, so I in particular think your company’s policy SUCKS. That’s so wrong, on so many levels.

    I say you bring your own party for your own department next birthday. Maybe the Admin Department might see what it feels like to be invited for leftovers.

  11. It’s up to the individual departments to get cards and/or gifts for birthdays, but our company does pick one day, usually in the middle of the month, to celebrate all the birthdays of that particular month. Sometimes there is cake, sometimes there are savory snacks. Thankfully, no one sings the birthday song, but all the birthdays of the month are written up on a white board.

    My department is usually pretty good about honoring someone’s birthday. There’s always a card, sometimes flowers, sometimes special treats. One of my co-workers always gets me an additional card, just from her, as well as a small gift. It’s nice.

    But yeah, that whole admin department thing at your work is BS. I say sabotage their next cake.

  12. i work in a large school and there’s one person in charge, who collects money from the staff for one party each month…yeah that works out great for staff during the september-june year…but the summer birthdays are NEVER acknowledged…and of course my birthday is in the summer…it really makes you feel left out and not part of the school…So, I have chosen not to particpate by giving money etc for birthdays…

  13. No, we always take out the birthday boy/girl for lunch. Granted, we’re only 4 people in my (immediate) office and can do those kinds of things.

  14. We’re really small – so there’s no organized birthday celebration – but I could totally SEE something like this happening at my work.

  15. Yeah. It’s not necessarily birthdays where I work, but it is painfully obvious who gets to do whatever they please, regardless of multiple pointless meetings…And who is definitely favored regardless of the amount of work they do or do not do…

    Needless to say, I am not one of those people and I am passive aggressively cornered by uber-b*tches whenever they can find someone to do their bidding.


  16. We all used to go to lunch once/month for all that month’s birthdays. Now we’re all too busy and unhappy, so we just go home and drink.

    Occasionally, though, we do have some kind of random food gathering, and you know who’s the first group in line at the buffet they weren’t even invited to? Admin. I cannot explain it. I WAS admin,and I never assumed all food was open to me. What the hell? Okay, so that’s not exactly like your story. But I empathize.

  17. There are 3 work areas in my department (at least on my floor) that I’ll call A,B, and C. I’m in C.
    So the A group celebrates each person’s birthday with a lavish breakfast spread. They usually close the door and then invite others for leftovers. Sometimes they decide to randomly “celebrate” someone for an entire week, bringing goodies, etc. The B group does a monthly birthday thing in one of their weekly staff meetings. I believe they have a sign-up list designating who brings treats each month.

    My group is the lamest. Birthdays aren’t even always remembered. When they are, the person who had the last birthday is responsible to bring in treats for everyone that we usually have at our weekly Thursday afternoon meeting. If the birthday person is off on Thursday, we do breakfast another day. It’s really hit and miss though. One year, mine had clearly been forgotten. A week or two later someone brought in a box of Krispy Kreme donuts and said, “Happy Birthday.” I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I HATE Krispy Kreme donuts and just said thanks, but didn’t eat one. Ick.

    There is another department that my C group works closely with. They ALWAYS have these fantastic potluck lunches and don’t include any of us, but this one person. We find out from her what the occasion was–usually something important for someone we work closely with. It creates a lot of bad feelings. Especially since it’s ~95% women!!!

  18. Woah. Total BS. I work for a very small company (6 full-timers, 3 part-timers) and one of the only perks is that every time someone has a bday, the whole staff goes out for a two-hour awesome lunch. It’s completely unnecessary considering we’re struggling financially, but it makes us happy so I think it’s worth it.

  19. oh that would drive me nuts, that’s ridiculous. our birthday each get celebrated here and hell why not, we deserve songs and cake every once and a while.

  20. Same thing happened with us… used to be birthday cake for every birthday, then cake once a month for Everyone’s birthday then a directive to say er, each dept should organise their own cakes for respective employees…

    Which of course only a few do… Oh and no one told us about the new regime… until we started asking, what happened to the cake???

    Yeah, so corporate America ain’t so different that corporate Australia by the sounds of things…

  21. I’m STILL bitter that I never got a send-off cake from my former employer–and that was almost 3 years ago!! :p

  22. That’s ridiculous! I’ve (thankfully) never experienced anything like it. Anytime I’ve had a contract at a school, they’ve been awesome. I think it’s because teachers spend so much time with kids that when they have an opportunity to get together to celebrate, they take full advantage of it. (And cupcakes are always included).

    I definitely think you should throw yourself a huge bash next time, complete with shooters and a flame eater. Or maybe just shooters. Or a bottle of wine.

  23. I work in a restaurant and at an elementary school (unpaid) so I don’t really have this problem. However, I’m sorry your administration is a bunch of hypocrites.

    “Hey the peasants are hungry!”
    “Oh really? Well then, let them eat cake.”
    “How about just the leftovers?”

    This blows.

  24. Birthdays at work seem to be a pretty touchy subject, right?

    At my office, there is one celebration per month – so sometimes it is only one person, and sometimes it is for 3. Of course, there are only 15 of us in the office, so this works out just fine!

    We get treats and we all sit around and chat.

  25. Working nights, alone, I would be lucky if I remembered my own birthday. In what I call “The Days of the Sad Stories,” my 30th birthday was celebrated by sticking matches in the only thing I could afford at the time – tamales. Life has improved since 1994, but since then, my own birthdays come and go like the tide, and I really don’t care.

    Love celebrating my kids’ birthdays though πŸ™‚

  26. The same thing happened to me! Last month it was my birthday and at work all I got was an email saying happy birthday.

    Thankfully at home it was a different story as my hubby surprised me with a gorgeous pair of diamond earrings he bought from http://www.idonowidont.com and we had a romantic night in together, much better than an email!

  27. Oh gawd, I hate that bullshit elitist bahavior. And when you say Administration, do you also mean HR? If so, yes! HR is the biggest department of “do as we say, not as we do.” They break the rules because the little power they possess is meant to reinforce it. Fuckin’ hypocrites!

    Clearly, I really know what you’re talking about.

  28. We get a card and once a month it is a potluck type event that means there is an over abundence of chips and only a few people bring things in but everyone eats.

  29. Every month we have a day where we celebrate anyone who has a birthday during that particular month. We’ll have cake and ice cream for about half an hour. That’s it.

    Your department should have it’s own little birthday bashes and not invite anyone else. How rude of them.

  30. Good thing those two hours spent making this executive decision weren’t needed for anything important like, I don’t know, hiring your replacement?

  31. The more our manager likes you, the better cake you get. And if you’ve pissed him off, you may not get cake. I actually had to ask one year if we were doing anything for my birthday, since he usually comes around asking about “what chocolate cake flavor” I want. That’s right, so long as it’s chocolate, it’s allowed. Guess what his favorite cake flavor is? I enjoy chocolate now and then, but sometimes you just want cheesecake. Or buttercream. OR SOMETHING ELSE.


    Petty people with power drive me up the wall.

  32. It does happen and it drives me crazy. My peeve is with anniversary awards. We buy the gift, send the manager reminders and still…someone’s anniversary goes by without mention…and they get angry and hurt

    The managaer was going to give it at the next monthly staff meeting– milestones are viewed as another task rather than a celebration of an individual and their contributions. That really sucks.

    Everyone should be celebrated.

    (of course, who gets blamed or the missing gift? Me!)

  33. It seems like your office is small enough that they should be including everyone in the festivities, so I think it’s rude and I agree that it should be the same for everyone. My office just had a card signed by everyone else and a $15 g/c from Starbucks or iTunes. Some smaller groups will take others out but I think it’s a personal expense and not a company one.

  34. We get Happy Birthday email announces. The only time we get cake is if someone makes one for their boss. Oh, and this year a boss had his wife bring one in for his secretary. That was nice.

  35. You guys should start your bday festivities….All are invited (except those in admin). Sure it may be sinking to their level…but whoever said that wasn’t fun!! πŸ˜‰

Comments are closed.