Thursday, October 25, 2012

The working life: They say it's your birthday‏

SH says I am being pissy and difficult.

I think I am standing up for a long-denied right in corporate America: the right not to have your birthday celebrated at work.

I don't like work birthday celebrations. At least, not mine. If it's for someone else and it involves cake, then I think it's just fine. But I don't want to celebrate my birthday at work. I want to take the day off and sleep late and goof off and eat whatever I want, which I have to admit did not work out so well this year, as a diet of Fritos, cheese, polenta cake, and chocolate chips is almost guaranteed to lead to feeling crummy by 5 p.m.

A few years ago, when I turned 40, I took the day off. I did not tell anyone it was my birthday. It was nobody's darn business.

I returned to work the next day to find my office decorated with black streamers and other turning 40 junk.

The admin in my group had gotten my birthday from HR.

I was ticked. I don't care if people know how old I am, but I don't like to be the center of attention unless I am controlling everything.

I discovered a few weeks ago that my new employer publishes employee birthdays on the intranet.

Who does this? This is nuts! Shouldn't they ask, when they are doing all the other crap you have to do when you start working - signing up for crummy health insurance, turning down the pet insurance with the muttered comment that you would prefer decent human insurance, signing the internet policy so they have an easy way to fire you if they don't want to go through a performance improvement plan (I cannot be the only person who checks facebook every now and then while I'm at work), if you want to opt in to the public birthday program?

Opt-in and opt-out programs are not unknown. You have to look for them. To opt out of having your name and address on your drivers license being public information, you have to read the forms - the back of the forms - very carefully and check that No! You do not want the State of Tennessee or Wisconsin selling your name and address to anyone who wants it and why would anyone ever think that was a good idea?

Government for the people, my aunt fanny.

So I discovered my birthday listed online.

So I sent an email to HR, asking them to take it down. I was polite, but implicit in the request was, "I cannot believe you guys would do such a thing."

I don't even have my birthday on facebook.

Honestly, people. If nothing else, this is personal information that can be used by identity thieves. At best, it leads to situations where you have to endure attention you don't want just because you don't want to be a bad sport.


Anonymous said...

Amenn, sister! I worked for years with a bunch of wom en who celebrated absolutely everything. I finally had to tell the staff in my group that i would seriously fire them all if anything happened on my birthday.. grow up, already. Totallyjuvenile invasion of privacy. Happybirthday - whenever it is, on your terms.

AKJ said...

Sorry, I agree with your husband.

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly, Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate birthdays. My daycare provider when I was a kid was JW, and I still remember the horror on her face when I asked her to help me with a present for my dad's birthday. To force her into a celebration for herself? She'd have died.

Which is to say, your past and current HRs could be opening themselves up to great unpleasantness.

Joy said...

My uncle used to be a union electrician for Miller. Their birthdays were paid holidays.

Class factotum said...

Joy, don't forget the free case of beer every week!

Anon, I had never thought of the JW angle, but yeah, that's a big deal!

Other Anon, I'm glad you agree with me. AKJ, you and SH are both wrong.

Lindy D. said...

I worked for Miller, too. Never had my birthday as a paid holiday but did get three free cases of beer a month, one on my birthday and one for Christmas. In the eighties, we could drink free beer at our DESKS any time after four o'clock. Also, free beer was available at lunch. I had a secretary who "drank" her lunch and added nonsensical paragraphs to letters typed in the afternoon.

CF: You are really brave to take on HR about anything!!