It’s that time of year again, when your colleagues expect you to join them in the conference room for the annual holiday potluck celebration. It is baffling, and downright disturbing, how many people actually get excited about this annual event of involuntary socialization and white lies about the tastiness of the different foods you are being forced to eat.
“What are you bringing to the holiday potluck?” asked my excited colleague Karen, who popped her head inside my office twelve seconds after the calendar invite was emailed out to us.
“A disinterested demeanor and maybe some non-denominational napkins,” I responded, dryly.
It felt good to shut bubbly Karen up for a change, but the satisfaction was only temporary, as I realized I have no choice but to attend. Participation isn’t exactly required, but it’s highly encouraged.
Unfortunately, Bob already signed up for napkins. This is, no doubt, Karen’s fault for delaying my response regarding the signup sheet.
I called Heather, the organizer of the event. “What should I bring?” I asked.
“Bring something you’re known to cook at home,” came Heather’s response.
“Toast,” I responded. “I’ll bring toast. Splendid!”
There are few things in life worse than a holiday potluck. Paper cuts are definitely worse, and rectal exams have the potential to be worse. The latter depends on the hand size of the examining physician.
Why do I despise potlucks so much? It all goes back to that fateful work potluck of 2006.
My supervisor at that time, Laura, had strongly encouraged me to attend the annual holiday event. “You MUST try my delicious holiday casserole,” she had said, excitedly. Being a new employee, I’d felt I didn’t have a choice.
Now, Laura was a wonderful lady, but she had at least six cats. Some of those cats were most certainly counter top prowlers, meaning they were in the same vicinity as the casserole ingredients. I know this not because of some intimate working knowledge of Laura’s kitchen, but because I encountered several cat hairs with each bite of her non-delicious holiday casserole. You can’t really taste cat hair, but you can feel it in your mouth.
To this day, I believe the cat actually took a nap in the casserole at some point in the making of the dish. I’m still disgusted, even thirteen years later, as I write this recollection. To say her casserole left a bad taste in my mouth would be putting it mildly.
There are several additional, non-cat hair related reasons for not wanting to participate in a potluck with colleagues.
- As an introvert, I prefer spending my thirty-minute lunch breaks alone. It’s the only way to recharge my batteries halfway through a socially draining day.
- After witnessing the bathroom habits of the male contingent in the office, I can safely say that I won’t touch any food they offer, even if the refusal leads to my outright firing. (Reminder to self – Write a piece about the guy who thinks running the faucet for one second after making a doodie is enough to convince the rest of the eyewitnesses in the restroom that he did enough).
- Eating in front of people is weird. Making small talk is weird. Having to do both at the exact same time is even weirder.
- As a non-meat eater, the options are severely limited. We’re talking salad and a cookie, which does decrease the chances of encountering rogue feline hair, but still.
- Everyone knows I despise holiday potlucks, so my colleagues, every year, love to get on my case for it. And while it was humorous the first six years of my tenure here, the jokes have gotten a little stale, much like Karen’s nasty oatmeal cookies.
Unfortunately, I’m running out of excuses to extricate myself from these annual frustrations. I’ve already had to attend at least seven funerals of Grandparents. If my colleagues would take the time to do the math, they’d realize that some of those funerals were falsified.
I suppose I could fake an intestinal illness, though claiming norovirus before an event that would inevitably lead to actual norovirus seems shortsighted.
Can I claim to be a born-again Jehovah’s Witness and that, as a born-again Jehovah’s Witness, I find holiday potlucks to be severely offensive to my people? Is there such a thing as a born-again Jehovah’s Witness?
Maybe I can pay someone to cut the power to my building, though they’d probably just have it in the dark.
Happy Holidays, everyone.