Monday, October 31

Advice Column: Workplace Party Pooper Replies

Dear NewJaxWitty,
I recently went to a work conference where there was a lot of partying. Attendees of the conference included my former boss (who had stabbed me in the back and nearly got me fired) and a current boss (who ranted on at a meeting saying I should be fired). I learned that their failings as managers had led to a misconception of me that has since been mostly straightened out. However, neither person has apologized for their roles in making my life a living hell for several months. At the conference, I was asked to join them at the after-hours party. Since I don't particularly like these two people, I declined. I was then called a party-pooper by my current boss. I'm not good at comebacks, so I just left. What should I have done? 

The Party Pooper

Dear Pooper,
It's a classic method of those who have risen to their highest level of incompetence to forget when they fail, since it's probably most of the time. Nobody really likes their bosses so much as they have to put up with them, so you're not wrong to want to avoid partying with them. Comebacks are easy to screw up in this scenario, especially if others in the room don't know the details of your disdain. The best course of action is probably to attend the party and wait for the bosses to get drunk enough to say or do something really stupid, but that backfires if you also get drunk (which you'd obviously want to do). Avoiding the party will make you look anti-social to your fellow employees, but getting wasted and then accusing your bosses of being ass-clowns would actually look worse. 

Here are some other comeback options, depending on what you're looking to accomplish:

Snarky
You and (other boss) pooped on my party last year and made my work-life hell, so we're even. Almost.

Sexy
My spouse has a party waiting for me when I get home, so I'm saving my energy.

Been There
I promised my parents I wouldn't call them again to bail me out after a night of partying.

Sexy, or Scary
The last time I let it all hang out, I literally let it all hang out.

Old School PSA
That's harassment, and I don't have to take it.

Me Time
I've got an incognito web browser, unlimited data, and a nice hotel room waiting for me.

Biblical
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. (Proverbs 20:1, ESV)

Responsible 
My AA sponsor might not agree.

Raging
If we're snorting lines off hookers' tits, I'm in.

Better Off Without You
I joined this amazing book club after listening to a podcast on NPR about the diaspora of the hegemony of the pedagogy of the oppressed, and I need to finish my book. Or else I could talk about it at the party, I guess.

Sinister
The last two times I partied, someone died.

Priorities
I'm this close to figuring out the entire Q-Anon mystery and the voting machine conspiracy, and my country needs me.

Reverse Psychology
I like the people I work with too much to party with them.

Work Wife
I've been working hard all day at this conference to be a better employee. I'm just tired, and I have a headache.

Vague
I have a few things I need to do first, so I'm probably going to show up in a little while. Maybe.

Duty Call
I need a nap, but if you're still partying at 3am, definitely call me.

The bottom line is that you should not feel pressured to participate in workplace social events that could lead to you feeling embarrassed. That said, inept managers who lack the ability to lead will always shift blame to others for poor numbers or a hostile work environment. Your lack of participation, if not understood by co-workers, gives these managers a potential target. 

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