coworkers

Why Holiday Parties at Work Don't Work for Infertile People

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"At This Company, We’re Really Like Family" 

Why do people think that's a selling point at a job interview? So you're telling me that you get on each other's nerves, push each other's buttons, talk behind each other's backs, and hold grudges for generations?

Mercifully, most of our extended real family, the ones with whom we spend holidays, are people we don't see that often. So whatever idiocies are said at the big family gathering at holidays…

"I really think you should start having children. You're not getting any younger."

Or our response:

"I really think you should stop talking. You're not getting any smarter."

...are said and then we all get into our respective cars, gripe to anyone unfortunate enough to be trapped in there with us for the long & getting-longer-by-the-minute-ride-home, or a BFF on the other end of the hands-free. Then we rehash the emotional leftovers in our minds and to our spouses for the next 12 months. It's different after the company holiday event.

Infertility at Work: The Company Holiday Party: (Gd help us all... everyone.)

If someone you've confided in at work about your fertility struggles starts gabbing at the big company celebration, maybe opening up at the open bar, or maybe you yourself start sailing your secrets down the River Rum... unlike with your family, you won't have to deal with the backlash until.....Not next Thanksgiving. Not next Christmas..... Monday.

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And since a juicy bit of gossip is often the best holiday bonus people can bring home nowadays- Any seeds of "news" employees start spreading at the holiday party 2018 (assuming they even remember the holiday party 2018) will grow and flourish until New Year's Day... 2020. When finally you'll be able to get up off the hot seat because at least one of the following will have taken place:

  1. You'll be pregnant (yeah!) and they'll switch from discussing how infertile you were to how fat you are.

  2. You'll be a parent and they'll switch to discussing how much time you're taking off.

  3. People will finally have grown as tired of your infertility as you have.

  4. A fair number of employees at the December 2018 holiday party won't even be at the December 2019 holiday party because those holiday parties are only for company employees— Something which, for one reason or other, many will no longer be a year later. Of course, the most likely thing to occur to get you off the hot seat:

  5. Something new and way more delicious than your humdrum infertility will emerge at the 2019 party as the new reigning scandal:

A good old-fashioned boisterous, public cursing out; The manager feeding appetizers to the assistant manager from her cleavage; The CFO going to get her coat to leave and throwing up in the cloak room window... The possibilities are endless.

(I really appreciate you taking time at this very busy time of year to stop by. I hope you feel even just a little bit better than you did when you got here. If you'd like more laughter at infertility's expense, please check out my book Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman's Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility and consider subscribing to my not-overly-frequent newsletter. Both can be done at the bottom of my home page: http://laughingisconceivable.com (Amazon direct link: https://www.amazon.com//dp/B007G9X19A/)  

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The Envelope Please- Awards for my Family, Friends, & Co-Workers

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My kids recently got a bunch of year-end awards at school. I'm proud to say that among the three of them, they amassed a whopping twelve awards. When I was a kid, the awards they gave in school were based mostly on academic achievement. If you did the best on a standardized test or had the highest grades, or were the best athlete, you got an award. If you didn't, screw you. But things are different nowadays. Even the older kids are given awards for being the friendliest or the most helpful or most respectful. Why can't life be like that? We should get a certificate of achievement for everything. And I have a few I'd like to give out myself: 

Co-Workers:

The Practice Makes Imperfect Award- For the coworker who started out okay and as time goes on, actually, somehow, inexplicably, seems to get worse at their job. 

The Consistency Award- For the coworker who made a lot of mistakes at the beginning and five years later, is still making the exact same mistakes. 

The Selfish Bastard Award: For the coworker who regularly shows up late, leaves early, and does nothing in between, totally unconcerned if they're lousing up everyone else's schedule or doubles their workload.

The Selfish, Annoying, Bastard Award: For the coworker who meets all of the requirements of the previous award recipient plus, when they finally do show up to work, they sit there and talk to you the whole time. So not only are they giving you more work because they're not doing their job, they won't leave you alone long enough to do yours,

Friends & Family:

The "I Couldn't Be On Time If My Life Depended On It" Award: Pretty self-explanatory. For that person who makes plans to meet you at 2 pm and while you're still standing on the corner waiting for them like a dumb-ass at 3, finally answers your text: "Sorry I'm running late. I'm just going to jump into the shower."   

The Worst Timing / Pervert Award: For the person who only calls or knocks on your door when you're, for whatever reason, naked.

The "I Can Wear Anything." "No You Can't" Award: For the person who wears clothing whose shape, size, and / or color were never ever intended to be worn by them.   

The Promise But Don't Mean It Award: For that person who will always be there for you, any day, any time to_________ (babysit, help you move, help you pick out your wedding dress, plan a birthday party, return your library book) just not that Thursday, Friday or Tuesday that you________ (need a babysitter, are going to pick out your wedding dress, are planning the birthday party or your library book is due.)    

The "Most Likely" Awards:

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To The Teacher Most Likely to get pregnant and quit before the end of the semester.

To The Family Member Most Likely to hold a grudge for more than a decade.

To The Coworker Most Likely to flip out on a client.

To: The Child Most Likely to interrupt a private urination with a very important story involving a TV episode.   

To: The Cashier Most Likely to go on break and be replaced by the "Trainee" when it's my turn.   

To: The Friend Most Likely to interrupt my story so they can top it with their story. 

To: The Neighbor Most Likely to mow the lawn at 5 a.m.   

To: The Relative Most Likely to say multiple times that they'll come visit next time they have time off but never does. (And with this award comes my heartfelt thanks.)

Thanks a lot for stopping by! If you'd like more laughs at life's expense- please consider heading over to my home page and signing up to my not-overly-frequent newsletter or purchasing one of my little books.   

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If Only I Had 2 Cents for Every 2 Cents I've Put In...

There is an art which I have yet to master. No, I don't mean the art of writing. I mean the art of minding my own business. Every year on Yom Kippur, I throw bread into a lake. To Jews everywhere this symbolizes casting away our sins. To others, it symbolizes feeding the ducks. (Occasionally I've been chased by zealous park officials: Apparently tossing away sins is prohibited there.) Every year, for as long as I can remember one of my "sins" that I throw away is "minding my own business". Unfortunately, it usually limps out of the lake and boomerangs back to me about two days later. Don't you hate those people who, when you're having a conversation, just show up out of nowhere and start commenting? That's me. And it could be about anything from gardening to why the husband of the woman talking ran off to Brazil.

I just float in like Tinkerbell to save the day: "You told us months ago that he's been learning Portuguese. Come on Alyssa, the red flags were everywhere! You probably didn't give him enough attention and oh yeah, ditto for your tomatoes. That's why they're not growing. It's all related somehow."

And I'm sure after I put in my two cents and finally leave the room, they look at each other and say: "I'll bet she doesn't even realize she's doing it." That's where they're wrong. I realize it. My problem isn't ignorance, it's arrogance. I just always think I have something vital to contribute to their otherwise humdrum conversation. I know more than they do. There are thousands of topics in this world I'm sure I know nothing about, from UN policy to opera, but that doesn't stop me from playing "Jeopardy!" or from being an authority. As my ex-boyfriend used to say:

"Hi I'm Lori and I'm pretty sure I'm some sort of a genius."

That's not why we broke up. I mean, he had a point. I think this is a trait I inherited from my father. You'd be working on something: Putting a toy together, washing a dish... and he'd nudge you aside and say: "Better let me do it."

And you'd think this would make me more compassionate and understanding toward others with the same affliction and yet it doesn't. Quite the opposite. If I'm having a private discussion and a third party interjects, I'm incensed. How dare they interrupt? I get annoyed and obnoxious: "All who want your opinion raise their hand."

But when I "intercede", I'm a master at it. I don't even have to do it in person. Often I butt in over the cubicle wall. You know when you're sitting at work in those "sound-proof" "offices" with no door or ceiling? I eavesdrop. Everyone eavesdrops. The discreet, professional thing to do of course, is to pretend you don't hear a thing and go on with your work.

I'm a busy woman. I have no time for either discretion nor professionalism. It works well in my work environment. My coworkers have chosen to embrace my true self as a buttinsky, yenta, and general annoyance. People have gotten so used to me listening-in uninvited that they'll just use me as the wealth of information that I am. They know that Big Brother may be watching, but I'm always listening. There will be two women talking in a low voice two cubicles over: "Did they say that meeting is supposed to start at 9 or 10? I can't remember what time they decided on.... Lori?" "9!" See? I may be rude, indiscreet, and unprofessional, but I'm the company's most vital resource. I seriously doubt if they could function without me.

Infertility, Holidays, & Coworkers: 3 Full-time Jobs (Friday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. This week is all about co-workers. You may want to forward some of the posts to them...or maybe not... Well at least look them over before forwarding with the subject line: "Read this and thought of you."  And if you so desire, please subscribe to this blog. You get nifty weekly insider updates and get to hear what I really think of my own posts...not as boring as it sounds..geez I hope not anyway.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. How the fertility-challenged among us are reluctant to go to the company holiday party, and, lo and behold...so are most people.

As we've discussed this week, the reason most of us are nervous about going to these parties, according to me anyway, is because at work you're expected to talk about work. The company party is the one time a year when there are (supposedly) no managers, supervisors or employees...No back stabbing,  no letters from the boss saying: "Bonus?! You're lucky you have a job."  No favoritism. No sht list. It's almost like a religious retreat. Just chums, buddies, comrades, and friends.  And friends talk to each other about their families...and introduce you to them.

And let's face it: If your buddy/chum/friend who also happens to be your manager every other day of the year shoves her new baby in your face it's not so easy to say: "I'm sorry, but I'm really not comfortable with this." and just walk away. On the other hand, never underestimate the power of imperfection. What I mean is: She's your boss and she has this new baby, but you have no idea what else may be going on there.

Years ago, my husband and I went to his company party at his boss's house. I'd heard he had not only a beautiful new baby, but a beautiful wife, and a beautiful home (and it was a beautiful home from what I could tell from the roped-off area the employees were restricted to).

My husband pointed out the suspects from across the room: "That's him. That's his baby. That's his wife. And that's his girlfriend. Get it? Did you catch what I just said?"

So there I was all evening, turning from chartreuse to lime to forest green, and I shouldn't have been because true, we didn't live in a mansion on a mountain top and we didn't have a new baby; My husband didn't have his own company or a million dollars-- but he also didn't have a girlfriend. And you know how I know he didn't have a girlfriend? Not only are we still married, but he's still living.

Personally, I think it's okay to just be cordial to the "big" bosses at these functions and keep it moving. Meet their kids, their wives, their husbands, their lover/caterer and move along. Forget how ill-at-ease you are around their kids, who wants to hang out with your boss? The longer you schmooze the greater the chance you're going to talk.

Maybe this is just me and you're more discreet and less paranoid than I, but I always assume that the more I talk, the more words are going to come out of my mouth. And the more words that come out of my mouth, the more words the boss will be able to string together and, in one way or another, use against me for the rest of my employment.     

I don't know. You and your boss may be soul mates.  But most of the "big" bosses I've had in my life come over and shake my hand at the annual party: "Nice to see you" but truth be told, they couldn't pick me out of a three person line-up. One December I swear they're going to come over with their handshake and their "Nice to see you" bit and I'm going to say: "Oh really? What's my name?"  Let's see them break eye contact to discreetly scan my clothing on the outside chance I pinned my ID badge to my little black dress.   

If you have another moment, please look into Psychologist Andrea Braverman's article in Health Experts on the theme of the month: "Get Through the Holidays Anyway You Can". She's an amazing asset to the infertility community. http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

I'll talk with ya again on Monday.

Infertility, Holidays & Coworkers: 3 Full-time Jobs (Thursday)

Sorry for the late post. Power/Internet outages as far as the eye can see. (Start with "Monday" if you can. There's another snowstorm in the forecast for this afternoon for a good part of the Country. It could be a blizzard. You'd better just curl up in front of the computer in your jammies with bunny slippers and cocoa. Nothing else would be advisable.) 

So, what were we talking about? Oh right. Our coworkers who show their true hoochie selves at the company holiday party. Yeah, those who look like they just came in off the street on their way to work... at the corner.

Truthfully, there's a positive side to the nose-diving economy: It's made attending company holiday parties easier for us. 

I remember every December, my company used to have a big holiday shindig for all of the employees and their families. It was extremely hard to see all of the little cuties running around all dressed up. But that was then.

The company went from a big evening blow out at a hotel ballroom for the entire family to a dinner with the employees and their spouses at a nice restaurant to coffee cake in the conference room. (I remember thinking one year: "Savor every bite of that coffee cake, Lori. I have a feeling this is not only your holiday party...it's also your bonus.)  

So now, the only thing even remotely child-related that I hear at these "functions" is everyone complaining that, due to company cutbacks,they couldn't bring their toddler who eats about thirty cents worth of food.

People dealing with infertility usually dread company holiday events. Someone who just announced her engagement at last year's party, will be pregnant at this one. What if people bring their kids and I'm left to think about another year of that not being me?

In all of our breath-holding before the event, I think we fail to realize that most people, not just the pregnancy-challenged, don't look forward to going--for many good reasons, all of which can be traced back to the beverage being served: Whine made with very sour grapes.

There might be some dopy achievement awards given out.  Somehow the person who does the least work and disappears for ten minute breaks every twenty minutes  always wins.    

The dreaded "Secret Santa". First nobody can agree on whether or not to take the word "Secret" literally. Half the people sign their name on the gift, the other half write "Santa" in a disguised handwriting. Life was simpler when we just called the stinking thing a "grab bag".

Then, to throw further irritation into the joyous tradition, there's a price limit set: Say, twenty dollars. Somebody will throw in a six hundred dollar silver tea set for no apparent reason, someone will toss in an unwrapped plastic mug with a bank logo on it that was handed out at the street fair and call it a day, and somebody won't be bothered bringing in anything and leave someone feeling like Charlie Brown when the presents are open.    

The raffle: There will be no bonus this year but there will be one two-day trip to Disney raffled off among the two hundred employees. The employee unofficially voted "The coworker we'd all rather not work with" always wins.   

Listen, I gotta go. I've got to see and hear every possible list of the job closings due to the weather. I'll watch and listen until 5PM if I have to...just to be sure.  I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

Infertility, Holidays, & Coworkers: 3 Full-Time Jobs (Wednesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. Did you see "It's a Wonderful Life" the other night? No, I'm not sure there's a connection either.)  So, what were we talking about? Oh right. The pitfalls of attending the company holiday party. Specifically: The dangers of bringing along a gabby-when-drunk spouse who, when he throws up in front of your coworkers, might accidentally let some of your intimate infertility secrets slip out with the scotch.

I mentioned yesterday that I'm not a drinker. Have no interest in it. Couldn't be bothered. My motto has always been "When people start getting stupid it's time to go." I'm starting to rethink my motto. Because when people start getting stupid, the company holiday party finally starts getting good.

We walk into these company soirees fearing the worst. What if somebody brings up our not having kids issue? Or one of our coworker acquaintances will ask in a pseudo-caring way: "You're not drinking are you? Aren't you still doing IVF?" and mouth the "IVF" part.

The beauty of many infertility-related terms is that they don't mouth well. What I mean is: Let's say this woman at the party is pretending to be discreet. She doesn't want to shout out the words through the party noise: "Hormones!" or "Fertility!" or "IVF!", so instead of saying it out loud, she just mouths the word. It's almost impossible to figure out any of those words, (Give it a go, you'll see) unlike curse words which are clear to everyone. So, this gives us the option of playing dumb for a long time. Especially if there's loud music playing and a fun DJ who keeps yelling "Paaartyyyy!" into the microphone.

"What?! Aren't I still doing what? Yoga?! Did you say yoga?! Yes I'm still doing yoga! So let her go on and on mouthing, trying different words to get her point across: "In-vitro?" "Fertility drugs?" "What Celine Dion did."

Just promise me that when, in desperation, she gets to "Assisted Reproductive Technologies" you'll just walk away. For chrissake, show the woman some mercy.        

I once was at a holiday party where a few of my female coworkers clustered. They didn't even have the decency to stop talking about me as I approached. In their buzzed state, they just slipped into their second language: "Ixnay on the Abybay Alktay." The odd thing is: They all know my degree is in Foreign Languages.  Did they think that in my pursuit to master the romance languages, I somehow lost my proficiency of pig latin?

So all of this fear of the unknown: "What will somebody say?" "Will I be put in an awkward situation?" "Will I feel forced into saying more than I want?" "What if I start crying?"...These are the pre-10:30 P.M. fears. Circa 10:30 P.M., the first signs of inebriation start to show from the first wave of party arrivees. Now the fun starts.

First there will be the mention of the unfortunate clothing choices. Your size 16 general manager perhaps should not have worn a size 6 purple sequined mini skirt and a tube top (in December).     

At about 11 PM, the twenty year old shy guy from accounting will be talking both sht and poetry into her cleavage. By 11:30, he'll be setting his drinks in there. Nobody will have any recollection of seeing either of them after that. Around midnight, people will start leaving and a few might note that his car is gone yet her car is still in the parking lot.

And you and your humdrum infertility issues are off the hook for another year.

Listen, I gotta go. There are ten more shopping days before Christmas and I have to "Mapquest" the furthest point from any mall in the state.  

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

Infertility, Holidays & Coworkers: 3 Full-time Jobs (Tuesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. If I do say so myself, yesterday's post wasn't half bad. I can't vouch for the other forty-nine percent though.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. The people we work with, some of whom know our reproductive secrets. 

Most of us don't readily spill our guts to just anybody at work. So when we consider who might be a good candidate to confide in we might ask ourselves: "Is this a caring person? Is this a person who will be sympathetic and sensitive to my situation?" Wrong! 

If you want to tell somebody at work your infertility business there's only one soul-searching question you have to ask yourself: "Will this person get plastered at the company holiday party and float my secrets down the River Rum?"   And for that matter: Will my spouse?Seriously, if your husband or wife, partner, (or however you refer to that other person intimately supporting your conception efforts) doesn't handle liquor well... Look out! Nothing's worse than having your husband or wife, partner (do I really have to go through the whole list every time?)..

Nothing's worse than having your, let's say husband, accompany you to YOUR company party, make a fool out of both of you on Friday night in front of all your coworkers, colleagues, supervisors etc., then Monday morning, the only one out of the two hundred in attendance who doesn't remember what he said is him and you're left in charge of clean up in the wake of Hurricane Husband.

If you and your spouse haven't yet shared a romantic evening of public intoxication, you'd better practice before the company party so you know what to expect. Over several days, do a little private research, a taste testing... and keep good documentation:

Okay...

First up: "Mimosas"

Result: Subject refused to drink. Just looked at me and said: "If you want to know if I'm gay, why don't you just ask?"

"Beer"

Result: After three, subject propositioned me. End of testing for the evening.

"Mixing shots and Beer"

Result: Subject asked if my ass had always been that big. Most distressing part of result: He had opened the front door and was standing on the porch yelling the question to the neighbors. 

I'm not saying to go unescorted to your company party, just that it's lucky most of you won't be drinking: (Banana Daiquiri with a Clomid chaser is probably a terrible idea)  Because you have to be both the designated driver and the designated observer.

You don't have to stand there and count your husband's drinks. Just keep your ears and eyes open. The second you see him put his arm around your boss and hear him say: "I know I'm fine. My boys are great swimmers. Mostly they like the breast stroke. Oooh do they love the breast stroke..." you'll know how many he's had... A few too many. Time to find your tickets to the coat check.

Don't delay...Don't wait to see what other surprises he may have up his sleeve or you'll find yourself cleaning up that hurricane on Monday morning. Next thing you know, you'll suddenly feel the death of a dear dear relative coming on and decide a leave of absence is in order. All because your husband has mastered the art of chugging Long Island Ice Teas and talking at the same time.

Listen, I gotta go get a mixed drink. Okay, I don't drink at all. Never have. My idea of a mixed drink is Cherry Coke. Could you imagine what I'd be like if I was out of control and just blurted out whatever came into my head? Oh right. No imagining necessary.

The theme for this month has been: "Get Through the Holidays...Any Way You Can". Take a look at a new article up there in the Health Experts. It's by Psychologist Andrea Braverman. http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.