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Party poopers in the house toniiiiiite! Caitlin in Los Angeles, California don’t wanna have a good tiiiime! And frankly we agree with her:
I work in an office that has an unofficial celebration protocol: a group of eager party planners toss up some decorations in the meeting room, lure in the guest of honor, attendees muster a weak “surprise” and we all have brief and awkward conversation while enjoying pizza and cake until it’s back to work. Retirements, promotions, farewells, and baby-showers are handed this way. Repetitive, but fairly harmless and includes pizza.
When my supervisor became pregnant with her first child she immediately told everyone she did not want a baby shower under any circumstance. The very idea of sitting in front of coworkers as they stared at her pregnant belly made her painfully anxious. Fawning over baby-related gifts and embarrassing party games made her physically ill. And she was uncomfortable being given gifts by the people she supervises. She made me promise that, if anybody was trying to plan a baby shower, I would try to stop it and tell her. Thinking nothing of it, I agreed immediately and went back to business as usual.
Then I got a baby-shower e-vite in my work inbox. It announced a “secret” baby shower for my supervisor. I was aghast they would blatantly ignore her wishes this way. Unfortunately (but also to my relief), she had to take an early leave for bed rest. Problem solved.
Fast forward to now: she is pregnant again and the same series of events are repeating themselves: she insists to all who will listen there will be no baby shower. An urgent plea for me to tell her if our coworkers are conspiring. And another e-vite alerting people to a “secret” baby shower has recently arrived in my inbox.
I emailed the party planners and reminded them of her wishes. I suggested we plan a non-surprise party WITH our supervisor – no gifts, no games. Just food, conversation, and on with our lives. If people really wanted to give a gift, perhaps we donate to a charity in the future daughter’s name. It seemed like a good idea to me. This way, everyone gets a party and my supervisor is not miserable.
My idea was shot down completely within ten minutes. My supervisor’s supervisor, who she has told NUMEROUS times her feelings, wrote that he thinks the party should be left the way it was planned. He wrote that he felt “she will be happy and grateful. She works really hard and deserves this from us.” Everyone else agreed.
So I am back where I started two years ago: do I tell my supervisor and risk the wrath of my coworkers should she put a stop to it? Or do I leave my supervisor to the baby shower planning wolves and risk a breach of trust?
Oh noble Caitlin, your guilt is palpable even though you have done your best. Readers, guide her action with your vote: